Chanukah Buffet Menu

 
Chanukah Buffet Menu

Menu:

Gravlax – served with toasted bagel slices, cream cheese, red onion and capers

Goat’s Cheese and Roasted Beet Salad – with balsamic vinaigrette

Latkes – served with homemade apple sauce

Doughnut Fingers – served with dipping sauces, hot chocolate sauces, and pink grapefruit curd sauce

Chanukah Cut-out Cookies – decorated with royal icing

I love all Jewish festivals. I especially love inviting friends and family to join us on Chanukah for candle lighting and letting the food – at the very least, some of the food – relate back to our long-held traditions; with some quirky new ideas as well as just some really delicious food. All in all Chanukah becomes a special time in our house where the nights are long, but so are the conversations and the quality time.

Chanukah is the celebration of the Jewish victory by the Maccabee family over the Seleucid Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes during the time that the Second Temple stood in Jerusalem. We celebrate these eight days in mid-winter by lighting Chanukah candles in recognition of God’s miracles. The miracles that let a small group of men defeat a much larger and stronger army, of giving the Jews some relief from the continued lack of autonomy during the Second Temple period – a freedom to worship as we choose and the beautiful and poignant miracle of making one day’s worth of pure oil that lit the menorah in the Temple last for eight days until the new pure oil became available.

We have built traditions around the candle-lighting ceremonies, including giving gifts. In the old tradition, these gifts were usually of money – thus the Yiddish term ‘Chanukah gelt’ (meaning: “Chanukah money”). Another tradition I’m all in favour of is that of eating fried foods, such as latkes and doughnuts, to commemorate the oil lasting eight days. Finally, there is the less recognised tradition of eating dairy.

This tradition’s sources may come from the Book of Judith. The Book of Judith does not make it into the canonised Tanach – the twenty four books that make up the Hebrew Bible. Rather, it is a book that is included in the Septuagint. The book of Judith, some scholars have come to believe, is either an allegory or the first biblical novel.

Regardless of its origin, it tells the fascinating story of the heroine Judith – a beautiful widow, who may have lived during the time of the Maccabees (but there is some inconsistency based on the historical characters mentioned in the book). Judith ingratiates herself with General Holofernes as he waits to attack Jerusalem. Using her charms, and after Holofernes and his generals gorge themselves on a meal including a lot of goat’s cheese, Holofernes satiates his thirst on a huge amount of wine and falls into a drunken stupor. Judith seizes the moment, cuts off his head with his own sword and she and her servant run out into the morning with the general’s head in their food bag. Jerusalem is thus saved for the moment.

The scene with Judith cutting off Holofernes’ head is a much loved depiction in Renaissance era art, and well worth looking in to.

But for now, wishing you and your families a Happy Chanukah.

The Accidental Rebbetzen 

Recipes and Styling by: Ilana Epstein

Photography by: Pascale Harris @pascaleharrisphoto

Crystal Menorah: from Sofer Stam £85 https://soferstam.co.uk/