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7 Specials That Celebrate Hanukkah

7 Specials That Celebrate Hanukkah

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These fabulous mainstream TV specials celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah

A sneak peak of some of the best Hanukkah specials we’ve seen!

When the holidays roll around, we tend to get caught up in the brew-ha-ha of endless Christmas specials and odes to Santa Claus. With movies from It’s a Wonderful Life to tons of claymation Christmas specials, many other holidays get overshadowed by the extremely marketable spectacle of Christmas.

For those who celebrate Hanukkah, it seems like there is very little on the mainstream circuit that acknowledges their holiday, let alone some of the best funny moments that get associated with it. In honor of all of those gearing up for Hanukkah instead of Christmas this year, we found some of the best specials that celebrate the Festival of Lights.

Relive the magical moments of Kyle teaching Ike how to spin the dreidel on South Park. Or bask in the glory of interfaith holidays with The O.C.’s Chrismukkah special, where the Cohens share their strategy for the ultimate holiday extravaganza. From obscure episodes to classic Hanukkah skits, we found some of the best, and funniest, clips that celebrate Hanukkah. To see what made our list, check out the accompanying slideshow!

The Festival of Lights, Hanukkah, is truly one of my favorite times of the year. Ever since the twins were born, it not only gave our family the opportunity to develop our own traditions, but also make some of our favorite foods and lasting memories.

Part of what makes the time so special is sharing it with family and friends. Alas, not this year…

History lesson…Hanukkah is actually not a holiday, but rather a Festival of Lights. It is a celebration of Jewish life, history, and tradition. It celebrates a military victory, after many years of struggle, of the Maccabees over the Greek-Syrian army who wanted to crush the Jewish religion.

After the last battle, the survivors went back to the Temple. To light the flame of the Menorah, a specially prepared pure olive oil was required. But the amount of oil remaining was only enough to burn for one day, and it would take eight days to produce a new batch.

Miraculously, the flame burned for eight days. Hence, the eight days of Hanukkah.

Traditions of Hanukkah include lighting of the Menorah, singing songs, playing dreidel, and eating foods fried in oil like latkes and jelly filled doughnuts.

The traditional gift was gelt (money), but switched to gifts in the late 19th century. Hence, why you may have heard the term, “Jewish Christmas”.

Back to the food…I’ve rounded up some of our favorite Hanukkah Recipes to cook and bake. I am sharing recipes for both sweet and savory dishes, plus others we simply enjoy.

Some are traditional recipes, while others have a more modern twist. After all, Hanukkah gives us 8 wonderful nights to enjoy!

My family has two foods we eat each Hanukkah no matter what…Latkes (potato pancakes) and Sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts). But, latkes are the family favorite.

Over the years, we have tried many different types of latkes including sweet potato and zucchini. But we are always sure to have the traditional potato latkes no matter what.

We have developed a method that serves up the most delicious and crispy latkes. Here is our secret.

The secret to a perfect latke.

Two to three days before you will be serving your latkes, you need to prepare the potatoes. I use a plain old russet potato. I start with the largest bowl I have and put a little ice in the bottom.

I peel the potatoes and use my Cuisinart to grate them. As I empty each Cuisinart full of grated potatoes into the bowl, I add another handful of ice.

Once I have all the potatoes grated, I make sure they are covered with ice and cold water and weigh down with a plate and cover. Every twelve hours, I drain the water and ice and fill with fresh water and ice. This takes away the starch and creates the best latkes.

When you are ready to make your latkes, drain all the water. I first strain, then I use cheese cloth and squeeze all the water out. Now you know my secret.

No, I do not make fresh latkes each night. I simply cook them all one night and warm them in the oven for the other nights. Our favorite way to serve them is with homemade applesauce and whole milk Greek yogurt.

Here are a few other ways we serve our latkes.

  • Topped with mushroom and spinach with cheese melted on top
  • When we get fancy we use creme fraise and caviar
  • Cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers
  • Spinach and a poached egg
  • Caramelized onion and bacon
  • Fresh greens tossed in a light vinaigrette and a hand boiled egg slice

We hope you enjoy some of these Hannukah recipes and use your own inspiration and traditions for Hanukkah. And if you are short on ideas for what to gift over the course of the 8 nights, be sure to check out our creative ideas for Hanukkah gift giving.

Celebrate the Festival of Lights with These Heavenly Hanukkah Desserts

No Hanukkah celebration is complete without a sweet treat to close out the evening. From classic rugelach cookies to fried donut twists, there are so many different desserts worthy of a spot on your dessert table during this important holiday. Fried desserts have long been associated with Hanukkah&mdashthey are symbolic of the oil that was only supposed to burn for one day but lasted eight long nights. If a classic donut isn't what you're looking for, you'll be pleased to know we have some other creative ideas, too. Our apple fritters certainly hit the sweet spot. Apples, which are a traditional celebratory ingredient consumed on Rosh Hashanah, are also enjoyed throughout Hanukkah. Diced apples are folded into the fritter batter, which gets portioned, deep-fried, and coated in powdered sugar.

Other desserts that are a fit for this celebration? We can't get enough of our edible version of dreidels, the traditional four-sided toy played with by kids during Hanukkah. Jumbo marshmallows are topped with chocolate kisses, then dipped in a thick coating of chocolate, which creates the illusion of a spinning top. They're something that children can help to create, too&mdashand they'll certainly enjoy digging right in once a batch has been made.

Of course, what would Hanukkah be without Sufganiyot? This Israeli jelly-filled donut is as traditional as it gets. Our version is filled with seedless raspberry jam but feel free to use any flavor that you please, such as apricot or red-currant jam. There are also several rugelach recipes here. First, a classic holiday recipe features a combination of prune and apricot butters, which are rolled up into one delicious cookie. For more crunch, try this pistachio version, which can be partially made in advance so that you can spend more time celebrating.

Hanukkah Recipes

Celebrate the Festival of Lights with our outstanding dishes. From comforting matzo soup to crispy latkes and everything in between, we’ve got what you need for a deliciously memorable holiday!

Festive Finger Foods

Everyone loves finger foods! Start your holiday dinner with any one of these tasty and festive appetizers.

8 Inspiring Entrées

Eight nights, eight special dinners – make new traditions with these exciting entrées that will please all your guests.

Spectacular Sides

This year have several side dishes that people just won’t be able to get enough of! Any of these recipes will be a fabulous addition to your dinner table.

Celebration Sweets

Cap off your special Hanukkah dinners with one of these sweet treats. Everyone will love these homemade desserts!

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Mini Strawberry Napoleons

Zucchini, Tomato & Mozzarella Tart

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Scalloped Potato-Onion Bake

Roasted Chicken with Stuffing & Gravy

Portobello Mushroom Napoleon Appetizers

Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls

Creamy Golden Mushroom Mashed Potatoes

Classic Standing Beef Rib Roast

Apple or Pear Fruit Tarts

Creamed Bananas in Puff Pastry Shells

Mixed Field Greens, Asian Pears & Pecans Salad

White Chocolate Mousse Pastries

Caramel Apple & Pecan Napoleons

Herb Roasted Turkey with Pan Gravy

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7 Jewish(ish) Vegans We Want to Celebrate Hanukkah With

While Christmas tends to be a rather ostentatious holiday involving public outings of Christmas tree-shopping and neighborhood light-strolling, Hanukkah is typically a more private affair and celebrated inside the home&mdashand not given the same cultural clout as the Santa counterpart. But there&rsquos nothing we love more than the Festival of Lights, so in the interest of celebration, we are shedding light on how seven of our favorite vegan Jewish celebrities and entrepreneurs observe this joyous, eight-day holiday.

1. Isa Chandra Moskowitz
Moskowitz burst onto the vegan cookbook scene well before it was considered &ldquocool&rdquo with her inaugural work, Vegan with a Vengeance. Since then, she&rsquos produced ten additional books&mdashand many contain recipes that harken back to her Jewish roots. We make her sufganiyot (jelly-filled doughnuts) from The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook every year.

2. Peter Singer
This iconic utilitarian philosopher (and famed author of the iconic Animal Liberation) is inherently atheist, but if offered, we doubt he&rsquod turn down a loaf of piping hot vegan challah. Word has it that Singer is a wild mushroom-gathering enthusiast, which makes us wonder if he adds the fungi to his latkes, too. A little rescued birdie also told us that Singer is good pals with Moskowitz we&rsquore waiting on our invitation to their Hanukkah celebration.

3. Mayim Bialik
The Big Bang Theory fans know her as Amy, but what some may not know is that she wasn&rsquot chowing down on beef and broccoli during those Chinese takeout scenes. Bialik is a long-time vegan and has even authored her own cookbook&mdashwhich contains multiple latke recipes. One can safely assume she&rsquos indulging in her fair share of potato pancakes come the Festival of Lights.

4. Alicia Silverstone
This plant-based actress, author, entrepreneur, and mom celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas. Like Bialik, she&rsquos also a latke-lover and has her own cookbook. Find Silverstone&rsquos preferred savory pancake recipe on her blog, The Kind Life, for Latkes Two Ways.

5. Megan Tucker
While Tucker might not be a household name, those who have experienced her vegan Jewish deli pop-up, Mort and Betty&rsquos, are huge fans. Los Angelenos of all backgrounds are waiting on her next appearance, hoping to celebrate at least one Hanukkah morning with her cravable customized bagels&mdashyou know we&rsquore piling on the carrot lox.

6. Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz
Named one of America&rsquos Top Rabbis by Newsweek and one of the 50 Most Influential Jews by The Forward, we&rsquore proud to have Rabbi Yanklowitz on the vegan team. He has penned seventeen books on Jewish ethics and repeatedly advocates for the vegan lifestyle. We&rsquore gifting his work, The Jewish Vegan, to all of our omnivore friends and family this Hanukkah.

7. Natalie Portman
The Academy Award-winning actress was in the spotlight last year within the Jewish community. Despite controversy over her decision to not attend the Genesis Prize ceremony that same year, she still holds her faith dear. She appeared in a PETA campaign in 2018 paying tribute to Bashevis Singer for his activism. We&rsquod love to be a fly on the wall of her Hanukkah table.

Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and fitness enthusiast living in Orange County, CA.

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Hanukkah Recipes

Celebrate the Festival of Lights with festive recipes for latkes, brisket, sufganiyot and other traditional Jewish foods.

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Potato Latkes With Smoked Turkey Leg and Kumquat Chutney

Brisket With Parsnips, Leeks and Green Onions

10-Minute Applesauce

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Noodle Kugel

Chicken Liver Pate

Braised Lamb Shanks with Roasted Vegetables

This straightforward lamb shank recipe requires few ingredients, relying on aromatic vegetables and a dash of balsamic vinegar for flavor.

Potato Latkes with Roasted Tomatoes, Zucchini and Fried Eggs

Serve this savory, filling take on potato pancakes as a breakfast-inspired dinner or for a hearty Hanukkah brunch. Ricotta cheese, zucchini, tomatoes and a fried egg pair as perfectly with the browned shredded taters as they would morning hash browns.

Sweet Potato Tsimis

This classic Jewish dish, sometimes made with carrots and varying from family to family, has its place at any holiday table. Honey, molasses and cinnamon-kissed sweet potatoes are mixed with pecans, topped with a rich marshmallow blanket and served right alongside the savory mains.

Hazelnut Babka

This version of the sweet cinnamon-swirled yeast cake with Eastern European origins possesses a deep nutty flavor thanks to chopped toasted hazelnuts that are worked into the dough and stud the liqueur glaze.

Cookbook author Danielle Renov celebrates Hanukkah with 'perfect' latkes

This year, Hanukkah will be even more celebratory in Danielle Renov’s family because her son will be bar mitzvah. When I spoke to the Israel-based Instagram star and cookbook author recently, she still wasn't sure exactly how the bar mitzvah would be celebrated, but one thing she knew for sure: Hanukkah would involve latkes.

Renov has latkes down to a science — grating the potatoes to two different textures and letting the squeezed-out potato water stand so she can scoop out the settled potato starch and use it to help bind the pancakes. In her book, "Peas Love & Carrots (ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications, 2020), she writes "If you want to use your grandmother’s recipe and amounts, I say, go for it. Just apply the few simple but important techniques here and your latkes will be crispy and delicious every time."

It’s this blend of culinary rigor and openhearted encouragement that has gained Renov’s Instagram (@peaslovencarrots) nearly 70,000 followers and was the inspiration behind her cookbook. "I started the Instagram in 2015, just posting pictures of dinners for me and my family," she said, "and it took off very quickly. I love to tell stories and hear stories and now we’ve created a community of people from all over the world."

Renov’s own background is cosmopolitan. She grew up in Woodsburgh, in Long Island’s Five Towns, with an Ashkenazic father and a mother who was born in Casablanca but grew up in Paris. Thirteen years ago she moved to Israel and, and all of these culinary strands come together in her cooking. Equally important is the obvious joy she takes in preparing meals for her family.

"Providing food for our children that we chose to bring into this world is an obligation," she said. "And like any other obligation, we can approach it with a bitter, resentful feeling or we can embrace it." It helps, she conceded, if "you have a general affinity," but even more important is the cook’s need to go easy on his or herself if things don’t turn out perfect: "We are our own harshest critics. I encourage people to treat themselves with the same understanding that they treat other people with."

On a more practical level, she does not prepare separate foods for her seven children. "I don’t make four different dinners every night," she said. "I worked hard to make sure they are good eaters, and they eat what we eat."

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"Say bye bye to a house that smells like fried food for days and oil splatters on your clothing," writes Danielle Renov in her cookbook "Peas Love & Carrots (ArtScroll Mesorah Publications, 2020). "It comes down to technique. Simple ingredients, treated properly to maximize what they can do for you in terms of flavor and texture."

5½ pounds red waxy potatoes (a few ounces more or less will not make a difference), peeled

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Oil, for frying (I like avocado or canola)

1 carrot, washed, cut into 2 inch pieces

1. Peel potatoes and place in a bowl of very cold water (peeled potatoes can stay in cold water in the fridge for a whole day before using). Set up 3 bowls. In one bowl place a colander or fine mesh strainer.

2. Use the fine grater blade of your food processor or the small hole grater of your box grater (the one that looks like spiky circles) to grate the onion.

3. Remove potatoes from water and dry them. Grate half the potatoes in a food processor fitted with the fine grater blade. Switch the blade of the food processor to the fine shredder blade. Grate the remaining potatoes. Add the contents of the food processor to the prepared colander in bowl 1.

4. Working quickly, remove a few handfuls of potato mixture and place onto the center of a tea towel. Gather the four corners of the towel and, over bowl 2, twist and squeeze the towel tightly to extract as much liquid as possible from the potatoes. DO NOT DISCARD THE LIQUID YET. Add the drained potato mixture, which should now be very dry, to bowl 3. Continue this process until all the potato mixture has been squeezed and is now dry and in the third bowl.

5. Gently pour out all the liquid that was collected from the first two bowls until you reach the starchy layer that has accumulated on the bottom. Use a spoon to scrape up the starch and add that to the potato mixture. Add eggs and salt to potato and starch, and mix to combine everything. (I think it’s easiest to mix this by hand, wearing a disposable glove).

6. Place a frying pan over medium high heat. Add ¼ to ½ cup oil (the amount will vary depending on how wide your pan is. You’re looking for a little less than ¼ inch up the side of the pan. Add 1 carrot piece to the oil to absorb any unwanted “brown oil” that occurs from burned bits, and leave it there the whole time you are cooking. Set up a cooling rack over a piece of foil or parchment paper to place fried latkes on.

7. Add 2 tablespoons potato mixture to the hot pan and use the back of a spoon to flatten the patty. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on the first side, until you see the edges darkening, and then flip and cook for 2 minutes on the second side. Transfer latkes to a cooling rack to drain. Repeat with remaining potato mixture. Serve hot and enjoy! Makes about 30 (2-inch) latkes.

* Waxy potatoes make better latkes than Idaho potatoes.

* Using 2 types of graters for the potatoes provides a soft creamy inside and a super crispy outside.

* Do not form perfect round latkes and then put it in the pan. Plop a scoop in the pan and flatten with a spoon. All those “strands” that stick out will get super crispy and be the best part of the latke

* If you don’t have a cooling rack, use a rack from your oven!

* To keep warm or reheat, place entire cooling rack in a 200-degree oven, uncovered. Alternatively, place latkes in a single layer on a baking sheet, uncovered, at the same temperature. The rack method will yield a better result but a baking sheet will still work!

Erica Marcus, a passionate but skeptical omnivore, has been reporting and opining on the Long Island food scene since 1998.


Though the traditional holiday doesn't include opening presents, the holiday's proximity to Christmas has created a new tradition of buying presents for children. Another newer tradition in the United States is the baking of butter cookies or pretzels in the shape of Hanukkah symbols while relating the stories. Children delight in helping to make cookies and learning about traditions as they create and eat as well.

Traditional Hanukkah holiday foods are not for the faint of heart since most are fried and/or loaded with cheeses. These traditional special treats, along with unconventional variations of Hanukkah recipes, are sure to please all, even if you're not Jewish.

7 Specials That Celebrate Hanukkah - Recipes

TRS Chanukah Parent Packet (great for classroom presentations!)

The Hanukkah Shaboom! Special – A Shaboom! Discussion and Activity Guide for 4-7 Year Olds and Their Parents

Ideas for celebrating

“A Song for Each Night” by Lauren Phillips (with links to music)

Playing Dreidel

1 dreidel per group of players
A bunch of small items to act as counters raisins, pretzel sticks, M&M’s, chocolate
coins, beans, bingo chips, etc.

Game Play:
• Divide the counters equally among the players.
• Every player contributes one counter into a central pile. This becomes the “pot.”
• Players spin the dreidle in turn and contribute or collect items from the pot based upon which letter faces up when the dreidle stops its spin.

The player who gains the most items wins.

  • The letters on the dreidle stand for the Hebrew phrase “Nes Gadol Haya Sham” – “A Great Miracle Happened There”
  • Dreidles in Israel have a different 4th letter (Pey) to stand for “Nes Gadol Haya Po” – “A Great Miracle Happened Here”
  • The dreidle originated in Eastern Europe. The word “drey” means “spin” in Yiddish.
  • The Hebrew word for dreidle is “s’vivon”.
  • There is a legend that Jewish children used dreidles during the times of the Greeks as a way of hiding the fact that they were doing Jewish study, which was forbidden.


Our library also has some Chanukah books for you! Visit our TRS Library webpage to see the wonderful selection.

Kale and Purple Cabbage Salad

  • 1 purple cabbage, sliced into thin strands
  • 2 packages/bunches of curly kale
  • 1 yellow onion, diced (optional)
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley

½ cup of sunflower seeds, almonds, sesame seeds, or pumpkin seeds

  • ½ cup of olive oil (or more)
  • Juice of one fresh squeezed lemon (1 to 2 Tb. of lemon juice)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tb. onion powder
  • 1 Tb. garlic powder

Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl.

Decorate with sliced baby peppers (optional, but lovely!)

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