Happy Hanukkah Supplement to Jewish News November 23, 2015
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Dear Readers, Hanukkah seems to offer as much confu-
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Should we make a big deal of Hanukkah to offset the major celebrations and commercialization of Christmas or do we treat it as the minor holiday that it really is in the Jewish calendar? Should we light the candles from left to
sion as latke recipes.
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right or right to left? Should we start with eight candles or with one? Should we use russet or Yukon Gold potatoes in those latkes?
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And then, the most obvious… Should we spell it Chanukah or Hanukkah or some other way? We could go on and on…. One place where there is no confusion, however, is that for Jewish children in America, Hanukkah has to be the happiest of the Jewish holidays. How it could not be? The blessings are short, the lights are beautiful, the dreidel game fun, the latkes and sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) delicious, and of course…there are the gifts. Our articles are mainly fun, too. They include a piece on the perks of being
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Jewish in December (clue: It’s easier than
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preparing for Christmas!), how not to spoil interfaith kids at the holidays, and some interesting and festive latke recipes. Plus, several community members share their
favorite Hanukkah memories…meaningful
and fun. Finally, did you know that Adam
Sandler updated his Chanukah Song? We’ll
tell you who he’s included. However you celebrate or observe the holiday, we hope you enjoy this year’s
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20 | Jewish News | November 23, 2015 | Hanukkah | jewishnewsva.org
Festival of Lights!
Terri Denison, Editor
A Hanukkah D’var Torah
hanuka’s origins in the drama of a small people standing up to the might of the Hellenistic empire of antiquity is a poignant symbol and a timeless reminder of Israel’s unique and timely legacy. The Maccabees’ successful revolt in 167 B.C.E. against the dictates of King Antiochus IV that sought to deprive the Jews of practicing their faith, was truly a stance of a proud conscience. Our refusal to submit to a superior physical power when our spiritual inheritance was at stake is a clear indication of how deep a bond we held with our religious convictions, ready to sacrifice the sacred gift of life for the sake of an ancestral covenant with the God of Freedom and Responsibility. The word Hanukkah and its very meaning represent the spirit of dedication to noble ideals and ideas through the cleansing of Jerusalem’s temple of old from pagan defilement. The Talmud’s insisting focus on the miracle of the cruse of oil lasting eight days reflects the rabbis’ aversion to the bloodshed and the Hasmoneans’ intra-political strife, associated with the war and beyond. Consequently, the Book of the Maccabees was not included in our own Biblical canon, but was fortunately preserved through the Catholic one. In truth, the conflict was not only against the enemy from without, but also in response to the experienced assimilation from within. The encounter with the dominant, flourishing and tempting Greek culture led, however, to a fruitful engagement influencing rabbinic thought and logic.
The flickering lights of Hanukkah have come to represent through centuries of trying suffering the miracle of Jewish survival in spite of great odds, while endowing the human family with an enduring, undying hope for a world transformed and redeemed. Let us continue to pray and labor that the ancient promise of prophetic Shalom from the hills of Judea, the first such inspiring and courageous message of universal embrace, will yet be realized for all of God’s children including the offspring of Isaac and Ishmael whose familial bond cannot be denied. How frustrating that there are Palestinian leaders attempting to re-write history by removing the i ncont rover t ible Jewish connection with the Temple Mount, seeking to extinguish Hanukkah’s authenticity. As our American nation, the State of Israel and the entire free world fight the blight of contemporary terrorism with Iran begrudging the Maccabeean victory leading the way, much can be learned from the Maccabees’ old and new saga and spirit. The terrorists negate the life-enlightening, pluralistic and inclusive principles of Hanukkah’s bright Menorah daring to challenge the darkness. All humans have now become vulnerable Jews, yet empowered with our people’s indomitable faith and heroic example to face an oppressive foe—physically, spiritually, and psychologically—and prevail. —Rabbi Dr. Israel Zoberman is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Chaverim.
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Memories Hanukkah 5776 Jasmine Amitay
Gary W. Baum
very year my mom
hen I first came to the
would get out the
“Magic Sevivon” (a
I celebrated my first
large cardboard box deco-
Hanukkah at the Jewish Center at
rated to look like a dreidel)
Cornell. I recall singing Ma’oz Tsur
and as a kid I’d get so excited to stick my hand in
with gusto, only to be brought up
Jasmine Amitay with her family.
short as I launched into verse two, prepared to sing all five verses and everybody else
a choose a gift from this huge box.
appeared to be quite happy with just singing the one verse!
I loved it so much that I’ve created similar boxes for my kids and just as I did, they LOVE it!!
As a reaction to this, I insist on singing all five verses on all eight nights (including the last verse which is the only one to specifically talk about Hanukkah)—much to the chagrin of the rest of my family.
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sense of anticipation and excitement for the Holiday to begin.
In our home, growing up we had an easy ritual of
candles and prayers at sunset, followed by dinner and FINALLY the chance to open one present a night. Our gifts were kept in the downstairs coat closet, one bag
Risa Levitt with her son Noam.
for me and one for my brother. Each night I examined the brightly wrapped boxes, deliberating over which to open next. I have always loved the anticipation the most, and would choose my gifts with care, wanting to draw out the wait and excitement of something “big” as long as possible. But it was the last, the eighth night that was the best. In my family we always got “extra” presents; and on the final night there would be multiple gifts waiting for my brother and I to tear into. It is this excitement and practice in patience that stays with me today, and what I eagerly anticipate watching in my own child as he grows to understand and enjoy the celebration of Hanukkah.
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The top seven perks of being Jewish in December by Rachel Minkowsky
NEW YORK (Kveller via JTA)—Growing up, ours was the only house on the block with a menorah glowing in the window. This should have put me onto the fast track to Christmas envy, but it didn’t. I respected Christmas, but was never jealous of those who celebrated. In fact, watching my neighbors actually gave me a deeper appreciation for the simpler joys of Hanukkah. Here’s why:
Blessings be with you this festival of lights and always
Celebrating Hanukkah means I usually have an earlier gift-buying deadline to meet than my counterparts. I have to get myself in gear way before Christmas shopping madness descends on the rest of the world. By Thanksgiving, I’m usually done. I spend most Black Fridays sipping spiced cider and recovering from a turkey-induced coma. Being Jewish means never having to freeze my tuchas off in a parking lot waiting for a “Midnight Door Buster” sale.
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No tall tales I am grateful that I don’t have to remember to hide an “Elf on the Shelf” in a new spot each day. And I don’t have to make up stories to tell my daughters about how a jolly fellow actually gets around the world in one night, or explain how a reindeer’s nose can glow in the dark. Instead I get to teach them the dreidel game while we snack on latkes. Bonus: We don’t have to share our treats with anyone’s flying pets.
The music Only kidding. This is a category where I can’t honestly come up with a “perk” for the Jews…there just isn’t as much Hanukkah music. Let’s see, we’ve got I Have A Little Dreidel and, um, what else? Seriously, what did suburban Jewish kids listen to before Adam Sandler’s The Chanukah Song?
The town where I spent my childhood could probably be seen from space. Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, the neighborhood dads would hang Christmas decorations. They could all be found precariously perched on their roofs stringing lights across the rain gutters. Plastic Santas and their reindeer would be dragged two stories into the air and then somehow fastened to shingles. I watched the scene, year after year, relieved we didn’t have to do the same. My dad + wires + heights = certain doom. The expectations for Hanukkah decor are less labor intensive. We plug in an electric menorah and park it on the windowsill. Done.
Time for fun
—Rachel Minkowsky lives with her husband and two energetic girls in New York City where she works as a school counselor.
My non-Jewish friends have to find time for their kids, spouses, siblings, parents, 24 | Jewish News | November 23, 2015 | Hanukkah | jewishnewsva.org
cousins, in-laws and their great-aunt Shirley that flies in from Nebraska once a year, all within 24 hours. I get eight days to fill with lots of family togetherness. Eight. Long. Days.
Hanukkah is the holiday of deep-fried everything. And chocolate gelt. ’Nuf said.
Holiday spirit Whether families are making Christmas cookies or sufganiyot, the whole month of December is dusted with powdered sugar and scented with vanilla. Everyone’s mood seems to lift. People are kinder and more forgiving. It’s easier to believe that miracles can—and do—happen. This holiday season, I wish everyone peace, joy and magic. Chag Sameach!
Hanukkah 5776 How to not spoil your interfaith kids during the holiday season by Susan Katz Miller
(Kveller via JTA)—“We get twice the presents!” Most interfaith kids will utter this classic, and rather obnoxious, boast at some point during childhood. And I have to admit, it makes me wince and grit my teeth a little. As an interfaith child myself, I understand all too well that bragging about Christmas and Hanukkah gifts can be a defense mechanism designed to dazzle and deflect those who view interfaith families with skepticism and disapproval. But as the parent of two interfaith children, now 17 and 20, it was crucial every year to at least attempt to reduce the avalanche of holiday packages, boxes and bags. I really did not want my interfaith kids to feel entitled, superior or somehow wealthier than their single-faith playmates. To be honest, I did try to give my kids double the gifts, but I wanted those gifts to be metaphorical, or experiential, not material. The plan was to bestow on them deep connections to both Judaism and Christianity, education in the history and rituals and beliefs of both religions, and opportunities to celebrate with extended family on both sides. In lieu of buying stuff, my husband and I tried to focus on creating deep sensory memories for our children: frosting gingerbread houses and frying latkes, hanging ornaments and dancing around the menorah. OK, so we are not total Scrooges, or Grinches, or ascetics. Each child got one pile of gifts at the holidays, and “Santa” delivered that pile on Christmas morning. I do understand why some families who don’t celebrate Christmas give a huge mound of presents on Hanukkah instead. But giving two piles of presents on two overlapping holidays seemed to me like a misguided attempt to make the two holidays equal. Part of the beauty of celebrating both religions for our family is that Hanukkah does not have to compete with Christmas.
Instead we let Hanukkah be a more modest holiday, appropriate to its modest place in the Jewish liturgical calendar, where it stands behind Shabbat, Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot in terms of importance. Part of our strategy was to communicate with all the grandparents and aunts and uncles our intention to try to keep the gift giving under control, and instead focus on those who are truly in need. One visionary great-uncle gave donations to a different charity each year at Christmas in lieu of presents, and wrote a letter about his choice to each member of the extended family. My mother has taken to donating goats and sheep and chickens in the name of each of her grandchildren through Heifer International. And each year, we shepherded our children to the local Alternative Gift Fair, where they made charitable donations in lieu of Hanukkah gifts on certain nights: drumming lessons for youth in detention, psychotherapy and fresh local vegetable deliveries for low-income Washington, D.C., residents, and bicycle repair kits for people in Uganda and Honduras. And cumulatively over the years, I must admit, they got a lot of toys and clothes and books. But being an interfaith family provided fresh incentive each year to try to make sure to focus on the carols and the klezmer, the firelight and the candlelight, and spending time with both sets of relatives. It took a conscious effort to keep Hanukkah and Christmas from disappearing under a drift of torn red-and-green and blue-and-white wrapping paper. We did not always succeed. But I hope that if you ask one of my nearly grown kids about the benefits of being part of an interfaith family, you will get a deeper answer than “twice the presents!” —Susan Katz Miller, a former Newsweek reporter, is the author of Being Both: Embracing Two Religions in One Interfaith Family.
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Jewishnewsva.org | Hanukkah | November 23, 2015 | Jewish News | 25
Memories Hanukkah 5776
here is no doubt that Hanukkah is about food, and there is no more pleasant memory than donuts filled with red jelly. The ones that come on a parchment paper and leave a circle of oil and a splash of sticky jelly with every bite. As a child, I would have a trail of
white sugar on my nose, hands and clothes. It was wonderful! But donuts are not the memory of Hanukkah I want to write about. Instead, I will talk about my grandmother, Ruth. I have a small family, some are Holocaust survivors, and my father is an only child. My grandmother had a golden menorah with a picture on it, a menorah that as a child I was fascinated by. It blinded me and intrigued me. It also played Maoz Tzur when you pulled the string. Every year I waited to hear the menorah and when I grew older I was even allowed to pull the string. When my grandmother passed away, my grandfather asked me what I wanted to have to remember her. Right away I knew: that special menorah. To this day, I pull the string during the holiday and remember my Grandma Ruthie and our special times together. With all the hatred and violence in the world these days, I will end by saying it’s important to remember you can’t fight darkness with darkness; you can only fight darkness with light. From my family to yours, may you have a Happy Hanukkah. And, of course, may it be delicious!
Light & Peace
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26 | Jewish News | November 23, 2015 | Hanukkah | jewishnewsva.org
Naty Horev at four years old.
Adam Sandler debuts new version of The Chanukah Song NEW YORK (JTA)— Adam Sandler has updated The Chanukah Song for the first time since 2002. The Jewish actor and comedian debuted the new version on Saturday, Nov. 14 as a surprise guest at Judd Apatow’s stand-up special at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The updated tune listed a new group of celebrities who are Jewish, including Adam Levine, Drake, Scarlett Johansson, Idina Menzel, Seth Rogen and the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. In one comic line, Sandler sang that instead of Santa Claus, Jews can claim “two jolly fat guys: ice cream’s Ben and
Jerry.” Another line went: “We might not have a cartoon with a reindeer that can talk/but we also don’t have polio thanks to Dr. Jonas Salk.” Sandler also mentioned that Jared Fogle, the former face of Subway sandwiches who was convicted this summer on child pornography and sex charges, is Jewish. Sandler first played the original version of The Chanukah Song on Saturday Night Live in 1994. Along with the 2002 version, he also updated the song in 1999.
Thanksgiving Tzimmes Ingredients The vegetables: 4 parsnips 3 sweet potatoes (you can use firm pale-flesh or soft orange-flesh potatoes) 2 large carrots 1 large white onion ½ cup prunes, diced 1 cup cranberries (fresh or frozen) For the glaze: 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice ¹⁄ 3 cup apple cider ¼ cup honey ½ teaspoon cinnamon ½ teaspoon black pepper ½ teaspoon paprika ¼ teaspoon coriander a few good pinches kosher salt Sprigs of fresh thyme and sage (you can also use dried) 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut sweet potatoes, carrots, and parsnips into 1-inch chunks, making sure to discard the woody inner stem of the parsnips. Place in a 2-quart baking dish with prunes and cranberries. Whisk remaining ingredients except (thyme sprigs and butter) together and pour over the vegetables. Place fresh thyme and sage on top. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, then baste the juices over the vegetables. Re-cover with foil and bake for another 30 minutes, basting again after 15. Baste again, uncover, and dot the top of the veggies with butter or coconut oil. Continue roasting until vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened, about 35–45 minutes, tossing mixture occasionally. Note: If doubling or tripling the recipe, the final roasting time may take up to an hour.
Thanksgiving Tzimmes by Rebecca Firkser
(The Nosher via JTA)—Thanksgiving is about smells. Of course, it has a lot to do with taste as well, but for the most part I find that the most striking elements of Turkey Day arrive through the nose. In terms of these smells, there are the classics: spicy pumpkin pie aroma mixes with the scent of garlicky mashed potatoes interspersed with whiffs of toasted bread for stuffing. Then there are the dishes special to one’s own Thanksgiving table: my Aunt Sharyn’s corn casserole, buttery and studded with corn kernels; the black pepper-scented roasted Brussels sprouts my mom so painstakingly slices that my sister and I always rebuff in favor of sweeter veggies. This year, a vibrant tzimmes will also grace my Thanksgiving table. Traditionally served on Rosh Hashanah and Passover, tzimmes makes a bright addition to any Thanksgiving spread. I tend to find colorful root
vegetables in a shimmering glaze much more appealing than simpler vegetable dishes (read: aforementioned Brussels sprouts.) I’ve made stovetop tzimmes a few times, but I think the texture of roasted vegetables makes for a more complex vegetable experience, as they hold onto their individual flavors more intently after a journey in the oven than the stockpot It’s more common to find tzimmes made with orange juice, but I find that cider helps this dish to be extra autumnal—not to mention how fantastic it makes the kitchen smell. Cranberries add a tart bite to break up the sweetness coming from the potatoes, carrots, prunes and additional liquid. If you’re not a fan of parsnips, you can easily swap them out for more carrots. The best part of tzimmes is that it can easily be prepped in advance. Chop all the veggies and whisk up the liquid component the night before, then simply combine and toss in the oven on the big day.
From our family to yours, Teri and I wish you a Happy and Peaceful Hanukkah. Congressman& Mrs.
Jewishnewsva.org | Hanukkah | November 23, 2015 | Jewish News | 27
breakfast latkes two ways by Shannon Sarna
(JTA)—I first tasted latkes for brunch at a trendy eatery on the Lower East Side about six years ago. Since then, I’ve seen them across the country on brunch menus everywhere from diners to Michelin Star restaurants. Latkes—or potato pancakes, as they’re known to non-Jews—are comfort food that provide the perfect base to any number of savory toppings, but especially a runny egg or salty, fatty smoked salmon. After all, a latke is very similar to hash browns, a quintessential breakfast food. It’s traditional to eat fried foods like
latkes during Hanukkah, celebrating the miracle of the oil lasting for eight nights. And who doesn’t love a holiday that encourages enjoyment of a little extra oil? These breakfast latkes take the best of a classic and add a fun, American twist that screams brunch party. Here I offer two options: one dairy and one meat. If you keep kosher but want to serve both at a single meal, you could leave out the corned beef from the second latke and just top classic latkes with some fried or poached eggs. If you want to be really indulgent, you could whip up some buttery Hollandaise sauce and have your guests raving for months.
Everything Bagel Latkes with Dill Cream Cheese And Smoked Salmon
Yield: 12–15 latkes These latkes are both creamy and savory. Making latkes bite-size makes the experience a little more fun—guests can easily eat the latkes with their fingers, and also feel like they can indulge a little more since the portions are small. Ingredients For the latkes 4 Idaho (Russet) potatoes 1 small-medium onion 3 large garlic cloves 2 eggs 2 to 3 tablespoons flour 2 teaspoons salt 2 ounces goat cheese, left at room temperature
For the cream cheese 6 ounces cream cheese, left at room temperature 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice Salt and pepper to taste For the everything bagel topping 1 tablespoon sesame seeds 1 tablespoon poppy seeds 1 tablespoon dried minced garlic 1 tablespoon dried onion 2 teaspoons thick sea salt Thinly sliced smoked salmon Vegetable oil for frying
Directions Before getting started on the latkes, I advise making the everything bagel topping and the dill cream cheese. Add softened cream cheese to a bowl and combine with fresh dill, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Place back in the fridge until ready to serve. To make the everything bagel topping, mix together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried garlic, dried onion and thick sea salt. Set aside. Peel and cut potatoes and onions in half. Peel garlic cloves. Place potatoes, onion and garlic through food processor for a coarse grate (you can also grate coarsely by hand). Place potato mixture to a large bowl. Add eggs, flour, salt, goat cheese and 2 tablespoons everything bagel topping mix. Heat vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Form bitesized mounds of latkes, taking care not to squeeze too much liquid out of the latkes. Fry until golden brown on each side, then place on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet to cool. Immediately sprinkle with a pinch of salt. When ready to serve, spread thin layer of dill cream cheese on top of each latke. Add smoked salmon on each latke and top with sprinkle of everything bagel topping. Serve while still warm.
28 | Jewish News | November 23, 2015 | Hanukkah | jewishnewsva.org
Blessings be with you this festival of lights and always
Corned Beef Hash Latkes with Fried Eggs
Yield: 12–15 latkes These corned beef hash-inspired latkes work best with thinly shredded corned beef. If you can purchase a hunk of corned beef, as opposed to sliced, that would be ideal. If not, make sure to heat up the corned beef before shredding it or dicing into very, very tiny cubes. But don’t skimp on the salt in these latkes just because you think the meat will be salty—the potatoes still need salt to make these latkes most flavorful. Ingredients 4 Idaho (Russet) potatoes 1 small-medium onion 2 eggs 2 to 3 tablespoons flour 2 teaspoons salt Shredded corned beef Additional salt Additional eggs Fresh parsley Vegetable oil for frying Directions Peel and cut potatoes and onions in half. Peel garlic cloves. Place potatoes, onion and garlic through food processor for a coarse grate (you can also grate coarsely by hand). Place potato mixture in a large bowl. Add eggs, flour, salt and shredded (or diced) corned beef. Heat vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Form large, fist-sized mounds of latkes, taking care not to squeeze too much liquid out of the latkes. Fry until golden brown on each side, then place on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet to cool. Immediately sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Fry or poach eggs to your liking. When ready to serve, place latkes on platter and top with fried or poached eggs. Top with chopped fresh parsley.
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Hanukkah nov 23, 2015