Hanukkah -- The Feast Of Dedication

by L.A. Krueger

Hanukkah -- the Feast of Dedication or the Festival of Lights, is almost here. This holiday is one of rejoicing and celebration. Why? I'm glad you asked!

Hanukkah has always been a special time for me. Usually falling in December, sometimes coinciding with Christmas, Hanukkah lasts for eight days. Each evening candles are lit, adding one each night, until on the eighth night your menorah is filled with candles and shining brightly! And each night gifts are given! For a number of years I thought we were simply celebrating a "Jewish" Christmas, but I was quickly corrected. I learned that Hanukkah had been celebrated long before Christmas.

Hanukkah is a memorial to the Maccabees who kicked some bad guys out of Israel and rededicated the Temple after someone had the bad taste to sacrifice a pig on the altar of God. As a child I thought that this was the reason we ate chocolate lollipop Maccabees and chocolate-covered matzoh. We also spent a lot of time on the kitchen floor gambling with our dreydels (a four-sided top) for chocolate coins while basking in the glow of the menorah candles burning on the counter above. Each side of the dreydel has a Hebrew letter representing the words Nes gadol haya sham -- A great miracle happened there. (In Israel they say "A great miracle happened here.") Finally, we've gotten to the miracle!

The miracle of Hanukkah is that God allowed one day's supply of oil to last for eight days -- the length of time needed to consecrate new oil for use in the Temple. And this is why oil is also important in our celebrating Hanukkah. You need lots of oil to make latkes! Latkes are potato pancakes, and oy, are they delicious! You can serve them with sour cream or applesauce. Here's a recipe so you can make your own.

Potato Pancakes

Peel and grate the potatoes. Put them on a double thickness of paper towels, fold the towels around them, and twist and squeeze until most of the moisture is extracted. Put the potates in a bowl, add the flour, cream, egg and salt, and toss until well mixed. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Put about 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture in the pan and press and shape with a spatula into a flat, 3 1/2-inch pancake; repeat until the pan is full but not crowded. Cook each pancake about 5 minutes over medium-low heat until the bottom is crisp and brown; turn and cook the other side 5 more minutes more. Keep warm in a 300 degree F (150 degree C) oven until all are ready, then serve immediately. **Recipe taken from Fannie Farmer Cookbook

Happy Holidays!

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