Hanukkah oil & wine: Remembering Judith

Hanukkah, the festival celebrating Jewish religious freedom, and known as “The Festival of Lights”, starts on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev and is celebrated for eight days and nights. This year, Hanukkah began at sundown on Tuesday, December 16th and ends in the evening of December 24th.
Hanukkah embraces many traditions and one of them centers on foods that are eaten during the celebration. Foods cooked in oil and dairy products, especially cheese, are served most often.
The foods cooked in oil are in remembrance of the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days during the purification of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Latkes and sufganiyot (a jelly doughnut cooked in oil, pictured above) are the most popular of the Hanukkah foods. Latkes are often served interchangeably with potato pancakes, but they can also be made from ingredients such as corn, zucchini, and cheese. These may be accompanied by applesauce or sour cream.
Some say eating the foods cooked in oil relates to the oil miracle, in which the Jews had only a one-day supply of oil to burn the great menorah. The jug of oil refilled itself every day for 7 days.
The eating of dairy products is done in honor of the memory of Judith who saved the city of Bethulia by feeding the attacking Syrian general Holofernes wine and cheese until he fell into a drunken stupor. Then Judith took the general’s sword and killed him. When the Syrians discovered his body, they fled.
Want to visit some Jewish roots this Hanukkah? Learn some of the beautiful prayers, history of its development, and always include Latkes.

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