Hanukkah – The Jewish Holiday of Lights (coming up next week): Explaining the tradition of eating fried dishes during this holiday

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.


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).


About vegetarian foodesigns from the land of milk and honey

Shalom. My name is Michal and I'm Israeli. I would like to share with you my passion to vegetarian food, cooking and baking from scratch, using local ingredients (whatever I can find in the market, instead of using canned ingredients)
This entry was posted in Judaism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Hanukkah – The Jewish Holiday of Lights (coming up next week): Explaining the tradition of eating fried dishes during this holiday

  1. Michal – This is a wonderful entry. I so enjoyed reading it! Thank you! My daughter Naomi will love this… I will share it with her after school. 🙂 I am really looking forward to seeing some great Chanukah foods on your site soon… I am having a mad craving for raspberry jam-filled sufganiyot now! 😉 Take good care. Warmly, Shanna

    • I’m so glad you read and it and will share it with Naomi (such a pretty name !!!)
      I promise myself every year that I will not make sufganiot but I always cave in. Anyway, even if I don’t make them this year, I have last year’s post on my FB page but I will share it here as well, B”H

      • Michal,
        Thank you for the compliment – we love Naomi – and really adore her name. It suits her perfectly. 🙂
        I hope that you “cave in” and whip up sufganiyot for the Hanukkah festival. This is NOT a time for sacrifice, but for enjoyment. 🙂 I will keep my eyes peeled to your FB page.
        Baruch Hashem – Shanna

  2. Pingback: Potatoes and Herbs Latkes / Patties (Levivot, in Hebrew) – for the coming holiday of Hannukah | Vegetarian Foodesigns from the Land of Milk and Honey

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s