Hanukkah-Passing Along The Tradition



With Hanukkah only a few days away, I’m reminded of wonderful childhood memories of celebrating the festival of lights. It was a low-key holiday, just for fun, and my family would gather to celebrate. My eldest brother was in college by the time I was born, so Hanukkah was the time when he would come home and I’d get to hang out with him. That was always exciting!

My mom cooked wonderful meals. On the first night of Hanukkah, the house always smelled like pot roast and potatoes frying in oil. Sometimes she even made applesauce from scratch for the latkes. Apples and plums…it was so good. She worked very hard to make our Hanukkah meal special.

To make the latkes, she grated the potatoes by hand (no food processor back then). It took forever! As she was frying them, I remember my dad would come into the kitchen and steal some of the latkes as she took them out of the pan. She would shoo him away and he would grin and chew on the latke as he walked to the family room to watch Walter Cronkite.

When I turned ten, she finally let me help flip the latkes in the pan. I loved doing that because it meant I got to taste the first one. I loved beating my dad to the punch!

My parents always planned early so I knew my gifts were somewhere in the house. That always heightened my anticipation. I would search and search, but my parents always outsmarted me, except for one year when one of my friends was looking for some Barbie clothes and she unearthed the bag of wrapped gifts. I remember triumphantly telling my parents that I found the stash, to which they replied, “We can always return them.” I never searched for the gifts’ hiding place again. Smart parenting!

Now I have children and I try to pass our family traditions down to them. We make pot roast and potato latkes (mom supervises), light the menorah and play dreidel. When the kids were little, I’d read them the story of Hanukkah. The boys especially liked learning about the Macabees. I don’t read the books to them anymore, but we discuss the story.

My youngest is a little too young to understand much about the holiday, but I will start reading the stories to her this year. I also just purchased her a Mensch on a Bench, a Hanukkah spin on Elf on a Shelf. She hasn’t opened it yet, so I will have to report back next Hanukkah on how she likes him.


Christofle Menorah: (header image) Menorah pictured is a splurge from Bloomingdale's — by world renown Cristolfe. A new heritage piece for your family, this classic and elegant menorah is crafted from Christofle silver. Retails for $1,100.00

Mensch on a Bench: Don't let you kids be left out of the Elf on the Shelf craze! Created by a Jewish father who wanted to teach his sons about the Jewish holiday while adding new traditions to the family. Moshe the Mensch helped Judah Maccabee at the temple. Moshe played dreidel, loved gelt, and was a true Mensch. Retails fo $36.00

This time of year, it seemed perfect to include the celebration of Hanukkah in our Holiday content. Enter guest contributor Susan Southerland — friend, author, business owner (and the list goes on trust us!) If you want to hear more from Susan, let us know! Email us at submissions@meactual.com

Susan Southerland and her Mother, pictured above Potato Latkes

Susan Southerland and her Mother, pictured above Potato Latkes

In case you don’t have a family latke recipe, I’d like to share my mom’s with you. I may be prejudiced, but I think that they are the best latkes anywhere. Have a happy Hanukkah!


* 3 lbs of white potatoes peeled
* 1 medium onion
* 2 eggs beaten
* 1 tsp salt
* 1 tsp cream of tartar
* Matzoh meal
* Vegetable Oil

Put the potatoes and onion in a food processor. Pulse the potatoes and onion until they are well chopped but still have some texture. Add the potatoes and onion in a bowl, then add the eggs, salt, and cream of tartar. Mix the ingredients together.

Mix in enough Matzoh meal to make the potato mixture into a “good batter” as my mom always said. It should take about two hands full.

Put about a quarter of an inch of oil in a pan. I use an electric frying pan, but you can use one on the stovetop. Drop the batter in with a large spoon so each latke is about three inches round.

When the latkes are brown on one side, flip them over and brown the other side. When both sides are brown, take the latkes out of the pan and place them on a paper towel to absorb some of the oil.

If you want to make a potato dish without frying, take the batter and put it into a prepared, square baking pan. Drizzle a little oil on the top and bake it in a 425-degree oven until the top is brown and crispy.

If you are feeling really ambitious, here’s my mom’s applesauce recipe.


* 2 lbs of McIntosh apples peeled, seeded & quartered
* 1 can of plums

Put the apples and plums into a sauce pan. Simmer until the apples are soft. Mix to blend the apples and plums.