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The First Night of Hanukkah

December 21, 2011

The Great Coffee Shop Hunt will return next week. Speaking of coffee, the winner of the fair-trade coffee giveaway was Lora G. Congratulations!

Let’s talk latkes.

Like every child who attended a P.C. public school in the 1990s, I spent Decembers spinning dreidels and making paper Christmas trees and lighting the red-and-green Kwanzaa kinara. Part of this multicultural winter celebration was a ‘holiday’ meal that always included the obligatory latkes.

Last night, Allie and Simone invited a few friends over to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah. Hearkening back to my school days, I just wanted to help!

We followed Spike Mendelsohn’s sweet potato latkes recipe, which was actually really easy. I assumed making latkes was a time-consuming process but besides slow pace of only frying a few at a time because of a small pan, the recipe itself is simple enough to make any time of the year or night of the week.

Just beware flying oil!

I realize Hanukkah isn’t a major Jewish holiday, but can we agree that it’s the most delicious? (And if you want to prove me wrong, you should probably invite me to Shabbat dinner…)

On each night of Hanukkah, you light candles on the menorah while saying a Hebrew blessing (‘Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.’). (Here’s a brief Lighting the Menorah 101.)

Since Allie and Simone didn’t have a menorah — being only half-Jewish, they get a pass — we improvised.

Candle lit.

Latkes eaten.

Belly full.

But not too full for dessert. Allie’s German friend made some traditional German cookies

and Simone made riisipuuro, Finnish rice pudding that is customarily eaten Christmastime.

My contribution?

Because nothing says miracle-of-oil-lasting-eight-days-in-a-temple-in-Jerusalem like Electric Reindeer.

Happy Hanukkah!

What holidays do you celebrate in December? I used to babysit for a family with a beautiful, lights-covered tree in their living room. When I complimented their ‘Christmas tree,’ the mother quickly corrected me: ‘Oh, this isn’t a Christmas tree. It’s for the solstice!’ (The winter solstice is tomorrow, for those who want to celebrate the shortest day of the year.)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 21, 2011 9:41 am

    If you’re ever in Philly again on a Friday, you are more than welcome to join us for a Shabbat dinner 🙂 Though, I must agree – Hanukkah is a delicious holiday. It’s always fun to prepare food for it. Everything about is just so comforting – definitely the personification of the light, warmth, and faith the holiday represents. My favorite time of year!

  2. December 21, 2011 12:45 pm

    My public schools were definitely not PC…I’ve never been taught about any December religious observances other than Christmas in a public school. Then again, I grew up in Idaho, where almost every single person is Mormon…so that probably had something to do with it.


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