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Joyous Hanukkah requires lots of latkes

Beit Haverim members undertake making 400 latkes for Hanukkah dinner


by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Sue Greenspan prepares to drop mounds of grated potatoes into hot oil to cook.Several women of Beit Haverim in Lake Oswego gathered last week to tackle a major chore in preparation for the joyous festival of Hanukkah. The Beit Haverim Latke Making Mavens stepped up to complete their mission: to make 400 latkes — that’s right, 400 — enough to feed the crowd expected at the feast celebrating the start of the eight-day Festival of Lights.

Hanukkah marks the Macabees’ long-ago defeat of the much-larger Greek-Syrian army that had invaded Israel. The Macabees were a small group of Jews who, with God’s help, proved stronger than their powerful enemy. Following the Macabees’ victory, the Jews rededicated the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and, once again, were able to worship freely.

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Golden brown latkes cool off before being packed to transport to the Hanukkah feast.Although Hanukkah celebrates a military victory, its major symbol — the menorah, reminds us of the miracle of the oil. As the Jews purified the Holy Temple, they found only one flask of the oil for the eternal lamp — enough to keep it burning for just one day. But a miracle occurred, and the oil lasted eight days and nights until more oil could be brought from afar. That miracle explains why Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and why Hanukkah is called the Festival of Lights.

The Hanukkah menorah holds nine candles, one for each of the eight nights and an additional candle that’s used to light the others. One candle is lit on the first night of Hanukkah, two on the second night and so on until all eight candles are lit on the eighth night.

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Scrubbing 40 pounds of potatoes took a bit of time. Some cooks peel them, while others leave the skins on.Hanukkah is a time to celebrate with family and friends, to eat yummy holiday treats, to give gifts (especially to children) and to play the dreidel game.

Latkes, or potato pancakes, are traditionally eaten at Hanukkah, as are sufganiyot, or jelly doughnuts. They are cooked in oil and serve as a reminder to Jews of the miracle of the oil.

Working in Claire Frye’s West Linn kitchen, the Latke Making Mavens used more than 40 pounds of russet potatoes, 10 pounds of onions, dozens of eggs and untold quantities of oil to complete their task.

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Deana Gutterman puts on her special apron to help cook the latkes.