There are a few different places in this world that, when asked, I consider to be “home.” Among them are the New York and Panama. But sometimes there is a difference between what your heart calls home and what your head calls home. Today, I am happy to call the city of Chashmonaim, Israel home; home to both my head and my heart.
Chashmonaim is a very new town, just established in 1983, in the region on Modi’in. Modi’in is a beautiful area, as it lies in the foothills of the Judean mountains. It is close by to Jerusalem, and near enough to Tel Aviv that on a clear day, you can see the city’s skyline. Many of Modi’in’s buildings are made of light yellow or pink stone, which does not produce a harsh glare in sunlight, and ages more gracefully than concrete. Situated right between the humid coastal climate, and the extremely dry inland cities, Modi’in and Chashmonaim have a pleasant climate and plenty of extensive green lawns and gardens.
Because Modi’in is so new, it is startlingly clean and brimming with modern amenities. But it is not without some amazing ancient archaeological sites. The tombs of Maccabean Hasmonean, who led a Jewish revolt against Greek Syrian rule in the second century BCE, are just some of Modi’in’s archeological riches.
Regardless of what time of year you visit, the Modi’in region is also the best place in the world to explore and celebrate the story of Hannukah. More than any other place, Modi’in is associated with the Festival of Lights. It is here that Hannukah’s heroes lived and died, and today their story is preserved and retold in many ways.
Ancient Modi’in was almost completely destroyed over many centuries by the wear of civilization, as well as an earthquake. But today you can visit reconstructed villages and sites that commemorate the first Hannukah celebration, more than 2,000 years ago.
Next to my home town of Chashmonaim, you can find the Hasmonean Village, where life is recreated just the way that it was lived during the time that the Hasmoneans fought the Greeks for the right to worship at the Temple of Jerusalem. This is a wonderful place to visit with your children, where they can participate in many different activities. Some of these that they are sure to enjoy are making replicas of ancient coins, creating colorful mosaic art, and crushing olives into olive oil using an ancient olive press.
Today, the Hasmonean Village is located less than a mile away from the traditional site of the graves of the Maccabees. While it is just a replica and reenactment of ancient times, it is also located in a place of great historical significance, and this is evident when you visit. A visit to Chashmonaim, Israel is a wonderful way to teach your children about the story of Hannukah, as well as their nationality and their religion.