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Everything hanukkah

12/09/2020 11:12:05 AM


Aileen Grossberg, Librarian

It’s finally here, Hanukkah- a bright spot on the calendar with the flickering candles, the shiny gelt, and the glistening oil for the latkes.

This year, of course, is different. We won’t be sharing as we usually do, but there are lots of things to see and do if you take advantage of the virtual offerings in food, music, art and literature. You can even party online. 

And what better time to revive the oldest entertainment around-storytelling: reading aloud as a family.

My friend, fellow Librarian Lisa Silverman, has been compiling online resources for the Jewish Journal in Los Angeles. Here are some Hanukkah oriented offerings free of charge. 


Prof. Shalom Sabar from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem will examine the meaning of the dramatic changes in the naive-looking ritual object of Hanukkah. Dec. 9, 1 p.m.  Free.


Yale Strom is one of the of the world’s leading ethnographer-artists of klezmer music and history.  This webinar discusses Strom’s research for a concert on Sunday. A composer, violinist, filmmaker, writer, photographer and playwright, Yale is a pioneer among revivalists in conducting extensive field research in Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans among the Jewish and Roma communities. Dec. 11, 3:30 pm. Free.


Light the 4th candle and enjoy a virtual concert featuring Yale Strom and his klezmer band Hot Pstromi. Offering a fusion of traditional Klezmer, Gypsy, Chassidic, world beat, Balkan and new Jewish music, with improvisational breaks, Hot Pstromi is a unique klezmer/Roma ensemble featuring Elizabeth Schwartz on vocals, David Licht on percussion, Norbert Stachel on reeds, Peter Stan on accordion, Sprocket on contrabass, and Yale Strom on violin. Dec. 13, 9:30 pm, Free.


Open to all, of course, Keshet presents chef, travel writer, and photographer Shulie Madnick as she demonstrates how to make vegetable pakoras for Hanukkah this year! Shulie will share Indian Jewish traditions inspired by her family’s history in Mumbai and Israel, and her food and travels around the world. Families can cook along with the demonstration, or simply watch Shulie. Following along with the recipe is optional but an ingredient list will be sent with registration. Dec. 13, 2:00 am. Free.


Classrooms Without Borders presents monthly virtual tours of Israel with guide and scholar, Rabbi Jonty Blackman. This month’s tour will take us in the footsteps of the Maccabean rebellion from Modi’in to Gush Etzion; through the Judean Lowlands and onto Jerusalem. Bring your menorah and a dreidel and celebrate Hanukkah together online! Dec. 14, 7:00 pm. Free.

Here are additional Hanukkah related activities:

Follow this link to  Nine Things You Didn’t Know about Hanukkah from My Jewish Learning.

Check out JewBelong’s slightly irreverent cartoon take on Hanukkah and download the Hanukkah resource booklet.

The Hallmark Channel is known for its holiday movies. This year there is actually a mostly Hanukkah movie mixed in with the treacly Christmas movies. But don’t we all need a little of that right now?

If you love Eric Kimmel’s award winning Hanukkah tale, Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, as much as I do, you’ll enjoy Aliza Pelto’s rumination on the now classic story. If you are not familiar with the story, get a copy of this Hanukkah must read. It’s a perfect book to read while the Hanukkah candles burn.The illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman are superb and the tension in the story is palpable.

Other appealing books include:

Ehrenberg    Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas.  An Indian/Jewish family have their own take on Hanukkah food.

Jenkins    All of a Kind Family Hanukkah. A warm family story with an old-fashioned touch.

Kimmel    Hanukkah Bear. A classic tale of mistaken identity.

Kimmelman     Eight Knights Factual information about Hanukkah is woven into the storyline, and the back pages include historical background on the holiday. Wonderfully detailed illustrations

Koffsky    Kayla and Kugel’s Happy Hanukkah. Kayla and her mischievous dog Kugel celebrate Hanukkah. Good basic introduction for young readers. 

Levine      The Hanukkah Magic of Nate Gadol.  This book introduces a new Hanukkah hero and explains the origin of Hanukkah gifts. It may not be right for Hanukkah purists, the book’s warmth makes up for its premise. Especially nice for blended families.

Wolfe     There was a Young Rabbi. A harried young female rabbi multitasks in this rhyming cumulative tale as she celebrates Hanukkah , lights candles, reads Torah, feeds her family. But most of all she remembers the miracle of long ago.

Check the library for more Hanukkah stories and resources.

Maybe not this year, but certainly next, try an international latke bar. The link includes a video and recipes from a program recently presented by Hadassah.

And add my favorite - call it the New York latke- a latke topped with a little sour cream or creme fraiche, smoked salmon and capers or caviar. Garnish with fresh dill.  You won’t even miss the bagel. 

Who doesn’t like a fresh jelly donut, especially at Hanukkah? Shannon Sarna gives us a Hanukkah hack for The Easiest Jelly Donut Recipe Ever using canned biscuits. You still have to fry the donuts but much of the labor is eliminated. Use good quality jam for the filling. Searching for  sufganiyot hack will bring up other versions of this shortcut. 


  • 1 package refrigerated biscuit dough
  •  vegetable oil, for frying
  • jam, prepared pudding, Nutella, or other filling
  •  powdered sugar


1. Heat about 3 inches of oil in a large, deep pan over medium-high heat (oil should be 350 degrees F). To see if the oil is hot enough, use a thermometer or place wooden skewer into the oil. If small bubbles appear, it’s ready for  frying.

2. Remove biscuits from can. To make small donuts, cut into rounds with a soda cap or other small circular device. Or, for large donuts, fry the biscuits as is.

3. Drop the small donuts in 5-6 at a time; for full biscuits, 2-3 at a time. Fry for 1-2 minutes on each side, until just golden brown.

4. Using a spider or slotted spoon, remove from oil and place on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.

5. Stick a wooden skewer into one side of each donut and create space inside by wiggling it around gently.

6. Fill a piping bag or squeeze bottle with your filling of choice and gently insert into the hole. Gently squeeze filling into each donut.

7. Dust with powdered sugar.

For more Hanukkah desserts try these dessert latkes from Jewish Boston. 

Lastly, join Tiffany Shlain and scores of bakers from around the world in baking hallah on the last day of Hanukkah, December 18 at 1 p.m. She always has an interesting guest baker and good conversation while mixing and kneading. Register at

Hanukkah Sameach!

Fri, June 14 2024 8 Sivan 5784