You’ve probably heard the old adage, “Two Jews, three opinions.”
For example, whether to eat your latkes savory or sweet... Do you prefer sour cream (savory) or applesauce (sweet) on top of your fried potato pancakes? Ask around, and you will find that there are many strong opinions on the “right” way to eat a latke!
There is a national debate, as well, that has a long-standing history. The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate originated in 1946 at the University of Chicago’s Hillel Foundation (the Center for Jewish Students).
At the time, according to Ruth Fredman Cernea, editor of The Great Latke–Hamantash Debate, "...scholarly life discouraged an open display of Jewish ethnicity. The event provided a rare opportunity for faculty to reveal their hidden Jewish souls and poke fun at the high seriousness of everyday academic life."
The event has been held annually since then, with the exception of one year. Both foods are usually served at a reception afterwards. Several long-standing customs are observed at the University of Chicago; the debaters must have gained a Ph.D. or an equivalent advanced degree, make a formal entry in academic clothing to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance, and they must include at least one non-Jewish participant. The debate is said to have arisen from a tradition of spoofing Talmudic study during Purim. It is also felt to offer a humorous relief valve from the university’s rigorous academic program.
At Ahavas Israel, we also celebrate to reveal our Jewish souls and honor our holiday traditions. We share our customs with friends, Jews and non-Jews alike. And on Hanukkah, we remember that freedom should not be taken for granted.
But unlike at the University of Chicago Hillel, Congregation Ahavas Israel requires no advanced degrees or special clothing. We welcome everyone to come and celebrate with us.
Join us for this Festival of Lights at our Annual Hanukkah Dinner on Wednesday evening, December 21. Whether you top your latkes with sour cream or applesauce, it will be a fun evening for everyone!