Rabbi Chaim Wilhelm, co-director of Chabad Lubavitch of the North East Portland joined us to celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah.
The central observance of Hanukkah is the lighting of the Menorah (a nine-branched candelabrum that holds either oil or candles) at home. On the first night, one light is lit and on every successive night, an additional light is added so that on the eighth night, eight lights are lit.
The Festival of Hanukkah celebrates two miracles:
Miracle #1: The ancient victory of the hugely outnumbered Maccabees, a small band of faithful Jews, against their Syrian Greek oppressors, in their struggle for religious freedom in the Land of Israel.
Miracle #2: When the Maccabees liberated the Temple, they found only one small jug of olive oil sufficient to fuel the menorah for only one day. They lit it anyway, and miraculously, the oil burned for eight days. This is the reason why we light the Menorah on each night of Hanukkah and why Hanukkah is also referred to as the “Festival of Lights.”
To commemorate the miracle that occurred with oil, we eat foods fried in oil, such as latkes (fried potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts).
Other Hanukkah traditions include the playing of “dreidel” (a Hanukkah top) and the distribution of “gelt” money to children.
The Hanukkah menorah serves as a symbol of our ability to preserve and encourage the right and liberty of all citizens to worship G-d freely, openly, and with pride. Specifically in the United States, a country that was founded upon and vigorously protects the right of every person to practice his or her religion free from restraint and persecution.
Strawberry-Filled Sufganiyot Recipe
- 3 tbsp. dry yeast
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 3 cups flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 tbsp. butter (or oil)
- 2 eggs
- Canola oil for frying
- Confectioners sugar for dusting
- Pour the warm water, yeast and 1 tsp. sugar into a small bowl. Set aside for 5-10 minutes until frothy.
- In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, butter and eggs. Add the yeast mixture and knead until the dough is smooth and stretchy. Cover the bowl with a damp towel (or saran wrap) and place it in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
- Roll the dough out to approximately 1/2-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter, or the mouth of a glass, to cut circles from the dough. Transfer the dough circles to a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet and set them aside to rise for 20 minutes.
- Fill a deep frying pan or wide-bottomed pot with 3 inches of canola oil. Heat the oil to 350F / 180C. Gently drop the doughnuts into the oil and fry for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden. Remove and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Repeat until all doughnuts have been fried.
- Poke a hole in the side of each doughnut and insert filling (recipe below). Dust with confectioners sugar.
Strawberry Filling Ingredients:
- 3/4 cup water
- 5 tbsp. corn starch
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 cups strawberries
- Heat the water and slowly add the cornstarch. Once the cornstarch has completely dissolved, add the sugar and strawberries.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Let mixture cool, then place it in a piping bag, or a zip-top bag. Cut off the corner and squeeze filling into the doughnut.