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Chanukah Light on Dark Winter Days

Chanukah Light on Dark Winter Days

Winter is in full swing. Days are short and the wind sharp and icy.  Chanukah is early this year, squarely overlapping with Thanksgiving, but from the weather forecast you would think we’re in the depths of December.

...in which we carry forward the traditions of our forebears, and wrap socks and underwear in brightly colored paper...

…in which we carry forward the traditions of our forebears, and wrap socks and underwear in brightly colored paper…

For a new twist on this festival of lights and fried potatoes, Mr. Beez and I took part in Temple Sinai’s Foodie event, a series that puts a modern twist on Jewish cooking, complete with spiritual discussion and plenty of wine. We attended the first event back in the spring, which focused on Passover meals, and the food was amazing and creative. Chef Tommy Petro of Monitor Street Catering even managed to get my beet-hating husband to eat beets and like them. The selections this time around leaned a little more toward the traditional than the creative, but everything was delicious.

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We started things off with a hearty butternut squash naan. Not only was it tasty, but it is a super quick weeknight dinner option, if you can roast the butternut squash ahead of time.

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Course No. 2 was sweet potato latkes topped with smoked salmon. What’s not to love?

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Rabbi Symons got our wheels turning by going back through the history of Chanukah, and by putting the miracle of the oil in its historical context of resilience and rebellion. I learned that the reason why Chanukah is 8 days is because when the Temple was reclaimed, they had missed celebrating Sukkot, and the purpose of the 8 days of oil was for “catching up” and celebrating Sukkot.

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Brisket sliders on challah rolls. The BBQ sauce perfectly wedded the overlapping Southern and Jewish traditions of brisket.

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Dessert was donut holes topped with a fig paste. These were sweet and tasty, but I think the fig paste would have worked better on a shortbread (shortbread is admittedly not a traditional Chanukah food). Of all the Jewish holidays, I’ve never gotten a total handle on Chanukah desserts. My mom always made these blue dyed sugar cookies with silver sprinkles. This year I think we are going with the ever popular Ghiradelli brownies box mix. With the holiday theme of oil, I think we should make Chanukah funnel cake a thing.

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