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October 23, 2014
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Food Traditions - Jewish

By Isabel Braverman

Some people don’t have warm and fuzzy feelings about the holidays. Some people aren’t religious. My father is the first one and I am the latter. Now that the holiday season is approaching, what am I to do? As a daughter of a dad who is from a Jewish family, a mom from a Unitarian Universalist family and I not identifying with either, when I just want to enjoy some of the traditional foods associated with Hanukah? Answer: create my own “holiday.”

And that’s exactly what I did.
I gathered those I love—my family (dad Larry, mom Sarah and brother Henry), my boyfriend Timmy and my best friend since childhood Brianne and her boyfriend Boyd. We came together at my house to celebrate nothing at all but to enjoy each other’s company and eat some delicious Jewish food.

My dad made his latkes, my mom made Tzimmes (pronounced: SIM-us) and Brianne (a professional chef) made a creamy leek soup. Tzimmes is a traditional Jewish stew of sorts (often made for Rosh Hashanah) with its sliced carrots representing gold coins, symbolizing the hope of prosperity in the year to come. My mom puts her own twist to it—mashing sweet potatoes and carrots together and adding matzo balls. We have it every Thanksgiving. My dad puts his twist on the latkes too, using matzo meal instead of flour. The leek soup paid homage to my ancestors as it is popular in Romania, which is where many of my family members hail from.

We had all the ingredients for a holiday—family, friends and food. I cooked up a holiday and it was a success. A new tradition might sound oxymoronic, but they have to start somewhere, right? So, here’s to new traditions.

[Isabel Braverman is editorial assistant at
The River Reporter.]

One family shares three Hanukah recipes

Larry’s Latkes
6 medium potatoes
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 large eggs
¼ cup matzo meal
salt, pepper to taste
pinch of baking powder
vegetable oil for frying