Hanukkah 2014: December 16-24
The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, commemorates the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks and the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. While the Syrian-Greeks controlled and occupied the Temple it was used for the worship of foreign gods and practices. In order to purify the Temple, Jewish soldiers determined they would need to burn ritual oil in a menorah for eight days. However, there was only enough oil to burn the menorah for one day. Miraculously, the lit menorah lasted the full eight days.
The miracle of the Hanukkah oil is a part of the tradition, and to celebrate, Jews light a special menorah for eight days. One candle is lit on the first night of the holiday, two on the second, and so on, until eight candles have been lit. Another manifestation of the miracle oil is the tradition of eating fried foods.
Traditionally, Hanukkah is one of the less important Jewish holidays, but has become much more popular in modern practice because of its proximity to the Christian holiday of Christmas. Hanukkah has also become much more festive and Christmas-like—children receive a gift each night of the celebration.
Fried food is traditionally eaten on Hanukkah in commemoration of the oil that miraculously burned for eight days. Fried Potato Pancakes (called Latkes in Yiddish and Levivot in Hebrew) are the hands-down the holiday favorite in Jewish homes.
Recipe for Traditional Hanukkah Latkas
• 5 potatoes
• 2 onions
• 3 eggs
• 1 tsp. salt
• ¼ tsp. pepper
• between ¼ to ¾ cup all purpose flour
1. Peel potatoes. Place in a bowl of cold water so they won’t turn brown.
2. When ready to prepare the latkas, drain the potatoes. Place potatoes and onions in a food processor fitted with a knife blade. Pulse until smooth. Drain mixture well.
3. Pour potato mixture into a large bowl. Add beaten eggs. Add salt and pepper. Add enough flour so the mixture holds together.
4. Pour 1 inch of oil into a large, deep frying pan. Heat oil over medium-high heat.
5. Carefully drop ¼ cup of the potato mixture into the hot oil.
6. Flatten the pancake slightly so the center will cook.
7. Fry for several minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through.
8. Drain on paper towels.
Serving Suggestion: Serve with applesauce.
Yields: approximately 20 pancakes.
Also, take a look at the Five Tips for the Best Homemade Latkes!