These are serious times. We just finished a brutal election cycle here in the United States, and things are as tense and uncertain as ever in the Middle East. What better excuse than Chanukah, then, to relax a little? For those who are interested in passing along a little laugh with some holiday spirit, here are a few fun gift ideas.
Calling all kugel aficionados! Whether it’s sweet or savory, the kugel is the ultimate in Jewish-American culinary creativity when it comes to the holiday or family gathering. Today, bring your best kugel (or your favorite tasting fork) to Yiddishkayt’s third quadrennial Kugl Kukh-Off. Part of the Silverlake Independent JCC’s annual Festival of Lights, which features live entertainment and fun for the entire family. Kugel drop-off and registration starts at 11 a.m. and tasting begins at noon. Sun. noon-3 p.m. Kugl Kukh-Off: $2 (all the kugel you can eat and judge).
From Kung Pao kosher comedy to a swinging Mardi Gras version of the “Dreidel” song, two new Chanukah season releases explore the intriguing, delightful and sometimes perplexing ways in which American Jews have responded to Christmas.
Chef Brett Swartzman is a chef with passion. The Chicago native started working in his parents’ Jewish bakery when he was 10 years old, making bagels, muffins, cookies, challah and sandwiches.
This season’s crop of Chanukah books for kids brings us welcome reissues of two old favorites, along with a colorful multicultural tale welcoming a new baby. For older youths, an outstanding graphic novel may be just the right kind of gift. And somehow, once again, some prehistoric pals have managed to get in on the holiday fun.
Every year around Christmas and Chanukah time, writers, commentators, pundits and many rabbis, priests and ministers exhort Americans against spending money on things. We are too materialistic, we are told every year. Happiness, not to mention a meaningful life, depends on our having non-material things, not material things.
Anyone familiar with religious practices can testify to the fact that candles play a crucial role in normative observance for many religions. It is not surprising to find an identical phenomenon in Judaism, the mother of so many contemporary beliefs.
Bill Funt parodies Adam Sandler's holiday gem, 'The Hanukkah Song.'
They're making sufganiyot on the streets of Israel; Chanukah must be near.
If the thought of spending too much Chanukah gelt on lavish gifts for friends and loved ones seems a little dim this year, adding a little tikkun olam to the presents can give your Festival of Lights a memorable glow.
Latkes and sufganiyot, the jelly-filled doughnuts especially popular in Israel, are well-known Chanukah fare made with oil to signify the holiday tale.
In August, in the heat of the summer, a Boston-area mother of three began to worry about how she would pay for Chanukah gifts. Across the country in San Francisco, a 33-year-old Russian-born mother of six said that thinking about this Chanukah made her cry.
President Obama hosted 550 people at the White House Chanukah reception.
Around this time of year, I think of my grandmother and the stories she told me about making beef brisket and potato latkes for her first Chanukah dinner in America. She loved to cook, and sharing her recipes from Russia brought her such delight.
All around the Jewish world, Chanukah is chocolate season. But that doesn’t have to mean you’re stuck with the waxy chocolate coins known as gelt. In fact, a new wave of boutique chocolate makers in Israel are redefining this beloved indulgence in Israel. Many of their skillfully crafted products are already available in the United States. One taste and it’s clear: Gelt has grown up.
Here's some ideas for gifts that will continue to inspire long after the chanukiah has been put away.
Picks and Clicks
I will be frank. I'm tired of hearing the same holiday songs over and over. So the best Chanukah present I've received this year is a pile of Chanukah-themed CDs with lots of new holiday songs, many of them quite good.
In Myra Goldberg's short story, "Who Can Retell," reprinted in the National Public Radio anthology, "Hanukkah Lights, Stories of the Season" (Melcher Media, 2005), a young girl is concerned that her school's holiday glee club is singling out all the Jewish students to sing Chanukah songs.
I was about to inquire how they could manage to consistently laugh like fiends each time they saw Stu dress up like Latke Man, but stopped short upon realizing that they could easily turn the question back on me. You see, I'm no stranger to repetition myself, having managed to spend Thanksgiving on Hilton Head Island every year since I was in first grade.
A menorah is topped with candy canes, a mini Christmas tree adorned with a Jewish star and a spinning dreidel pictures Frosty the Snowman on one side and the tree on another: These are just some of the "interfaith" pictures featured on the mugs on the gift section of the Chrismukkah Web site (www.chrismukkah.com). Other images – which also adorn T-shirts and holiday cards – include a reindeer with a menorah for antlers, a zayde-slash-santa and other cute combo sayings like "Oy Joy" and "Merry Mazeltov," which get across the sentiment of both Judaism and Christianity.