Mary Anne here. I’m no expert on the history of Hanukkah, but having grown up in a household with a Jewish step-dad at the helm, I feel compelled to give at least a brief overview of this early winter holiday.
As I’m sure you know, Hanukkah is the festival of lights, its commemoration dating back to the year 165 B.C.E. when the Jews were victorious over the Syrian-Greeks. The word Hanukkah means “dedication” and the holiday is celebrated with the lighting of a menorah for eight nights.
When the Maccabees rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem – following its desecration by the aforementioned foes – there was only a day’s worth of consecrated oil left undefiled. Miraculously, the meager supply of oil burned for eight days; the lighting of the menorah commemorates this miracle.
Hanukkah feasts include both dairy and meat menus, and many families tuck into fried foods like latkes and donuts in commemoration of the oil that burned. Children are given gelt (coins), games are played with Dreidels, and presents are exchanged on each of the eight nights.
Now that we’ve taken you through Hanukkah 101, let’s get to the eatin’. Whether you’re planning a dairy- or meat-based smorgasboard, we’ve illuminated a menu that touts a variety of traditional and contemporary dishes. Wishing you many blessings on this most festive of holidays.