On the evening of December 6, Robin and I had the honor to have fresh made Potato Latkes with Joe and Rachael Levitch and their two children, Athena and Ethan. It was really great to be included in this Chanukah feast. Here is a recipe for Potato Latkes and some photos of the evening. Enjoy and Thank-You!

Potato Latkes

Yield: 12 to 16 latkes
Active Time: 45 min
Total Time: 45 min
Serve With: Sour Cream and Applesauce

What is the secret to making great latkes? We found that the starchier the potato, the crisper the latke.

History: Latkes, or potato pancakes, are the traditional Hanukkah dish for Eastern European Jews. But the Hanukkah isn’t in the potato; it’s in the oil the latkes are fried in. When the Jerusalem Temple was recaptured and reconsecrated by the Maccabbees, only one night’s worth of oil remained to light the temple. Miraculously, though, the oil lasted eight nights, or enough time to make more oil. That’s the miracle of Hanukkah. This makes about two dozen latkes.

4 c Potatoes
1 Onion, finely chopped
4 T Matzoh meal or Flour
4 lg Eggs, lightly beaten
½ t Salt
Pepper, to taste
½ to ¾ c Vegetable Oil

Preheat oven to 250°F.

Grate the potatoes and chop the onion.

Mix the grated potatoes and onion, beaten egg, salt and pepper, and matzo meal or flour in a bowl.

Heat a skillet over a medium flame. Film the skillet with 1 to 2 T oil. Form the potato mixture into small cakes – about ¼ cup of potato per cake. Don’t make the cakes too big; they’re easier to turn when small. Flatten the cakes slightly with a spatula.

Cook until the cakes are nice and brown on the bottom, then turn and cook the other side.

Repeat with the remaining potato mixture. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt. Add more oil to skillet as needed. Keep latkes warm on a wire rack set in a shallow baking pan in oven.

Joe and Rachael are preparing the latke mixture.

The latke mixture.

Joe is frying the latkes.

A visitor watches!

The Chanukah Altar

The Altar candles were photographed through special glasses that formed a driedel. Here is the history of the dreidel.

The Chanukah Dreidel (Dreidle)

The dreidel is one of the best known symbols of Chanukah. A four-sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side, the dreidel is used to play a fun Chanukah game of chance.
The letters on the dreidel, Nun, Gimmel, Hey and Shin, stand for the Nes Gadol Haya Sham, which means A Great Miracle Happened There.

In Israel, the modern-day land of Judea in which the story of Chanukah took place, the letters on the dreidel are Nun, Gimmel, Hey and Peh, which stand for A Great Miracle Happened Here (Po, in Hebrew).

To play the game of dreidel, two to four players each get a handful of pennies or chocolate money called gelt. The remainder of the pot is left in the middle. The youngest players spins the dreidel and depending on what letter the top lands on, he or she will:

NUN – Lose his turn, the top passes to the next player.
GIMEL – Win all the pot.
HEY – Win half the pot
SHIN (or PEH) – Lose all of his coins

The dreidel — or Sivivon in Hebrew, from the verb to spin — continues to be passed around the circle until one player has won everyone’s coins. The word dreidel comes from a Yiddish word meaning to turn. According to some historians, Jews first played with a spinning top during the rule of the Greek King Antiochus’. In Judea, Antiochus had outlawed Jewish worship, so the Jews would use a game with the spinning top as a ruse to conceal that they were secretly studying Torah.

Dreidels can be made out of just about anything — from wood, plastic or polymer to precious metals (although perhaps you shouldn’t let your kids play with the solid gold dreidel!) You can even make a dreidel at home out of an old milk carton.” (http://www.holidays.net/chanukah/dreidel.html)

Cheers and Happy Holidays!