Chanukah and Christmas - When holidays are blended, they're lost

Like most kids, my sons, Jacob and Zachary, were captivated by Christmas lights. They marveled at dazzling colors and illuminated figures adorning our neighbors' front yards. The holidays truly are for kids; only a child could look up at 10-foot Homer Simpson/Santa Claus balloon - bright enough to be visible from the moon - and smile. However, mine were only beginning to understand the meaning behind such sights when Jacob asked, "Why don't we have lights on our house?"Without missing a beat, Zachary answered, "Because we're Jewish."Jacob wasn't satisfied....more

Are You A Gift Card Carrying Mom This Year?

On the second night of Chanukah, I gave my daughter a very pretty Vera Bradley wallet. Inside the wallet, I put an iTunes gift card. She shrieked with joy at – you guessed it – the $20 gift card....more


It’s the most wonderful time of the year – la la la!  Yes, the Mensch on the Bench is in stock and available for purchase.  This is a big deal, since the only way you could get him before was to pre-order.   And, I want more!...more
HomeRearedChef You already have the Mensch of the year, BOB!!!  However, I do know what you mean ...more

Countdown to Thanksgivukkah

Is it really possible that in just 3 weeks Chanukah starts? Ready or not here it comes! That means I have a lot of planning to do. For the first time in over 100 years we get “Thanksgivukkah”....more

Perfecting the Potato Pancake

If you've been to your local market lately, you may have noticed the sudden appearance of the Chanukah shelf—that jumble of Judeo-packaged foods that appears out of nowhere around Christmas and Easter. It often includes boxes of matzo ball mix, potato pancake mix, beets in purple liquid doing their best impersonation of borscht, syrupy kosher wine, and jars of gefilte fish in dubious-looking jelly. In December, the Jewish shelf at the market signals the arrival of Chanukah, the festival of lights (and of matzo balls, apparently). The Jewish festival of lights is also a celebration of all things fried, symbolically marking the legend of the tiny vial of sacred olive oil that miraculously fueled the light of the menorah in the Jewish temple for eight days and eight nights. ...more
So far I've done sweet potato latkes, cream cheese bread, and spinach potato knishes.  Hoping to ...more

Potato Latkes

I *love* latkes. Yum!more

Acceptance and Change: The Evolution of Family Holiday Traditions

It's Christmas time. The holiday season. I get it. But what's sometimes forgotten is that this includes Chanukah. Or as some know it, "the festival of lights." Or, as kids, we in the tribe knew it as eight guaranteed presents! It's such a cliche but, compared to the pomp and pageantry of Christmas, the festival of lights kind of blew. However, as an adult, I've come to dig the ceremonial candle lighting, now that I finally understand the meaning of Chanukah. (It was pretty lost on me until I had to explain it to my boyfriend's son.) And now, as the Girlfriend Mom, I spread the guaranteed eight presents tradition to the kids....more
Hi Jory, thanks for stopping by. I love that you're exposing your daughter to both traditions ...more

What would a feminist chanukah story look like?

There is the Hebrew School Chanukah, where the Macabees are guerrilla fighters leading an uprising in the name of liberty (kind of like George Washington) and then there is the other Chanukah, the civil war Chanukah, where Jews killed other Jews for religious reasons, but also for political ones.  There is also the Rabbi’s Chanukah, where the oil  lasted for eight days....more

A Hanukkah Miracle: Gluten Free Latkes

sombrero boy lights menorah on Hanukkah In December 1960, I unofficially borrowed the Ad Man’s best scissors for the event that would change my world.  I had been invited to share my first tree trimming duties at a neighbor’s house when I was five years old.  Having no idea what tree trimming meant, I wanted to be properly prepared with a sharp instrument just in case I had to actually cut the tree.  Turns out trimming meant something else entirely, and from that moment on I was completely sold on the all aspects of decorating a holiday tree, eating Christmas cookies, and sharing candy canes with both the tree and my pocket.   Hanging stockings was not only brilliant, but something I could easily do at home....more

Jelly Donuts ("Sufganiot") Recipe for Hanukkah

Sufganiyot are delicate, airy little rounds of sweet dough, deep fried, filled with jelly and dusted with powdered sugar. They are traditionally served in Hanukkah because they're fried in oil, and Hanukkah is a celebration of the "Miracle of the Oil." ...more