Hanukkah 2013

November 26, 2013 by The Co-op Observer

The eight day holiday of Hanukkah starts tomorrow evening, Wednesday 27 November and lasts through to 5th December.

Hanukkah is also known as the festival of lights and feast of the dedication, it commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. This was an important event that took place back in the 2nd century BC when a small group of rebels know as the Maccabees regained control of the second temple from the Seleucid Empire which was ruled from Greece. On entering the temple the Jewish rebels found a small vial of ritual oil, just enough to keep the menorah burning for a single day, and yet, when lit, it burned for eight days.

The menorah is a candelabra with seven lights, or candles, however for Hanukkah a special nine branched menorah is used.

Even if you have no connection with the Jewish community you will almost certainly have seen the nine candled menorah, where one candle sits either above, or below the others. While the nine candle menorah is deeply symbolic, it is also practical. A new candle is lit each evening through the festival, but the ninth is there for uses such as lighting candles, which must not be done from the Hanukkah lights, they are solely for the purposes of meditating on the festival.

It’s a joyful time and small gifts are often exchanged each night, along with the eating of foods cooked in oil – delicious things like doughnuts, and latke. Latke are traditionally fried potato cakes, but more adventurous latke recipes are enjoyed too.

A simple potato latke recipe is served with apple sauce and soured cream.


  • 1 kilo of grated baking potatoes
  • 1 grated onion
  • 25g of plain flour, or matzoh flour if you can get it
  • 1 beaten egg
  • plenty of seasoning

Mix the grated potato and onion.

You then need to squeeze as much water from the potato and onion mix as you can. A good way of doing this is to wrap it in a clean muslin cloth or tea towel and squeeze the moisture out.

Shallow fry small latkes about the same size as a Scotch pancake in oil until golden brown, drain, then simply serve warm with soured cream, and maybe a dollop of apple sauce.

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