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photo by Emma Pease

Last night’s midweek service, which was about Hanukah, was preceded by a latke feast, and I invited people to come even earlier than that to join in making the latkes. Over a dozen did, and we had a great time.

I billed the dish as the World’s Best Latkes and then had to come up with an actual recipe, since the way I really cook these would go more like, “Buy twice as many potatoes as you think your family can eat. Peel and grate. Add enough grated onion to make it look right. Add enough egg for it to stick together . . . ” etc. Not very helpful, though my great-grandmother in the Old Country would approve. Attendees and cooks asked for the recipe, so here is what we did last night. The only way to improve on it would be to make sure you always have a dozen fun people to cook with.

I forgot to tell everyone last night that there’s a reason latkes are the quintessential Hanukah dish: you are supposed to eat fried foods as a tip of the hat to that miraculous oil. That’s what we call a handy theological excuse. Now, in addition to the miracles of a small army defeating a large one and the oil’s lasting for an extra seven days, do you suppose there’s a miracle by which the calories from oil in which latkes were cooked disappear?

Or let’s just appreciate this miracle, pointed out by Rabbi Brad Hirschfield:

that people dared to light that tiny bit of oil and trust that somehow things would work out. Perhaps the enduring miracle which Hanukkah celebrates is that there is always more light than we first imagine and that the fuel to create it is really there when we look hard enough and dare to trust its power.

Amen to that, and Happy Hanukah, everyone!

The World’s Best Latkes


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