On Hannukah and the tradition of eating fried dishes:
Hannukah is a story of courage and bravery. The story of Hanukkah doesn’t appear in the Torah but rather, is separate books called “The Books of Maccabees”.
The story that led to this holiday is that of the Maccabean Revolt against king Antiochus IV, the successor of Alexander the Great, a revolt of very few against a huge army.
BUT – THE HOLIDAY COMMEMORATES ANOTHER MIRACLE: THE MIRACLE OF THE OIL.
Alexander the Great conquered Syria, Egypt and Judea – the Land of Israel, but he allowed the lands under his control to continue observing their own religions and retain a certain degree of autonomy.
When Antiochus took control of that region, he oppressed the Jews severely.
He prohibited the practice of the Jewish religion, erected an altar to Zeus in the Holy Temple, forced the Jews to worship Greek idols and follow pagan rituals, massacred Jews who didn’t follow these orders and desecrated the Temple by requiring the sacrifice of pigs (a non-kosher animal) on the altar.
Two groups opposed Antiochus: a basically nationalistic group led by Mattathias the Hasmonean and his son Judah Maccabee, and a religious traditionalist group known as the forerunners of the Pharisees.
They joined forces in a revolt against both the assimilation of the Hellenistic Jews and oppression by the Seleucid Greek government. The revolution succeeded and the Temple was rededicated.
According to tradition as recorded in the Talmud, at the time of the rededication of the Holy Temple, there was very little oil left that had not been defiled by the Greeks: Oil was needed for the menorah (candelabrum) in the Temple, which was supposed to burn throughout the night every night.
There was only enough oil to burn for one day, yet miraculously, it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah.
An eight day festival was declared to commemorate this miracle. Note that the holiday commemorates the miracle of the oil, not the military victory because in Judaism – wars aren’t glorified, but, rather – the miracles of G’d.
Now you can understand why we eat fried foods like Potato patties (known as latkes) and jam-filled deep-fried doughnuts (sufganiyot).