Hanukkah Celebration Begins With Food, Gifts And Dreidels

Wednesday, December 1st 2010, 4:04 pm
By: News On 6

Rick Wells, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- As Christians gear up for the celebration of Christmas, our Jewish friends have already begun celebrating Hanukkah. The Festival of Light, includes lights, of course, as well as gifts, latkes, and dreidel spinning.

Elementary aged kids from the Mizel Jewish Community Day School were at the Jewish Retirement Center to help us learn more about Hanukkah.

"More of a festival than a religious holiday," said Jim Jakubovitz.

Jakubovitz is Executive Director of the center and says Hanukkah lasts eight days. Families gather around the menorah, say a blessing, and light a candle each night until all eight are lighted

"Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, so we just light the shamas which is the tallest candle, and the first candle, which is the...first candle," he said.

What they are celebrating is the taking back of the Temple from the Syrians about 2200 years ago.

Hanukkah, like most celebrations, features food. Susan Surchev is the Executive Chef at the center. She'll make hundreds and hundreds of latkes over the next eight days. Latkes are potato pancakes.

"We do regular pancake, sweet potato pancake, and zucchini pancake," Surchev said.

Like many things at Hanukkah, they are deep fried and oh, so good. Serve 'em with some fruit and apple sauce or sour cream for dipping.

Hanukkah features gift giving - one each day for the eight days, which seems more sensible.

"I got a DS with charger - both on the same day - yes, and some challenge games which are very hard to beat," a student said.

The traditional game is dreidel spinning. Usually the kids play for those chocolate filled gold coins. Guess they were afraid of losing to the rookie spinning TV guy.

Latkes From Susan's Kitchen
(Potato Pancakes)

6 medium size potatoes
½ cup flour
1 onion
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
vegetable shortening or oil for deep frying

Pare and grate potatoes into a mixing bowl. Squeeze out liquid. Peel and grate onion into potatoes. Add eggs, flour and salt and stir to make a smooth batter that will drop heavily from the spoon. Heap the shortening in a heavy frying pan using enough to cover the pancakes amply. Drop the batter from a spoon into the hot shortening, making pancakes 3 inches in diameter.

Fry over moderate heat until brown on the underside, turn to brown. Lift out and drain off excess oil on paper towel. Pancakes should be puffed and crisp. Serve with applesauce or sour cream as a traditional topping. Serves 4 to 6. Enjoy!