Sunday, December 17, 2006

Chanukah fun


Last night we joined friends, Jewish and non-Jewish, in lighting Chanukah candles. Chanukah is a grand anti-imperial festival, the celebration of the revolt in B.C.E. 165 of ancient Hebrew people, led by the Maccabees, against Syrian overlords. Tradition says that after the successful insurrection only one small jar of sacred oil remained for reconsecrating the temple. This oil miraculously burned for eight nights, hence the eight nights of Chanukah candles.

Potato pancakes, latkes, fried in oil, are a traditional food at Chanukah celebrations, the oilier the better, most think. My feminist friends always insist on singing this song so that we are reminded of the women who stood behind those valiant Maccabees:

Each Chanukah we glorify brave Judah Maccabeus
Who had the courage to defy Antiochus, and free us,
Yet it is not fair that we should forget
Mrs. Maccabeus, whom we owe a debt.
She mixed it, and fixed it
She poured it into a bowl
You may not guess, but it was the latkes
That gave brave Judah a soul.

The Syrians said: "It cannot be that old Mattathias
Whose years are more than 83 will dare to defy us!"
But they didn't know his secret, you see
Mattathias dined on latkes and tea.
One latke, two latkes
And so on into the night
You may not guess but it was the latkes
that gave him the courage to fight.

Now this is how it came about this gastonomic wonder
That broke the ranks of Syria like flaming bolts of thunder
Mrs. Maccabeus wrote in the dough
Portions of the Torah then fried them so.
They shimmered, they simmered,
Absorbing the olive oil
You may not guess but it was the latkes
that made the Syrians recoil.

Now these little latkes brown and delicious
must have hit the spot 'cause with appetites vicious
All the heroes downed them after their toil
Causing in our Temple a shortage of oil
One latke, two latkes,
And so on into the night.
You may not guess but it was the latkes
that gave us the Chanukah light.

An army moves on its stomach and somebody does the cooking.

2 comments:

whig said...

Sourdough latkes.

Ronni Bennett said...

Yay. What a great song. And a good laugh.

Happy Hannukah...

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