Chanukah in a Nutshell Chanukah -- the eight-day festival of light that begins on the eve of Kislev 25 [Dec 21 Sunday night day one and last day is Dec 28 Sunday] -- celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of purity over adulteration, of spirituality over materiality. More than twenty-one centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d. When they sought to light the Temple's menorah, they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity. To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled. On Chanukah we also recite Hallel and the Al HaNissim prayer to offer praise and thanksgiving to G-d for "delivering the strong into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few... the wicked into the hands of the righteous." Chanukah customs include eating foods fried in oil -- latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiot (doughnuts); playing with the dreidel (a spinning top on which are inscribed the Hebrew letters nun, gimmel, hei and shin, an acronym for Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, "a great miracle happened there"); and the giving of Chanukah gelt, gifts of money, to children. Crisp Fried Potato Latkes recipe Yield: 10 servings 2 1/2 pounds baking potatoes, peeled 1 large onion 3 large eggs, lightly beaten 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground, or to taste 1/4 cup matzo meal or 2 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour Vegetable oil, for frying Shred or grate the potatoes alternately with the onion. (The size of the shreds is a matter of personal taste. Coarse shreds produce lacier latkes with rough edges. Fine shreds or grated potatoes produce denser, smoother latkes. [I like the finer]) Rinse shred potatoes 3 or 4 times squeeze the excess liquid from the potato and onion. (This will keep potatoes from turning brown) Lay two handfuls of grated potatoes & onion in the center of a hand towel, bring the corners up together and wring out as much water as you can. Mix in a bowl the grated potatoes & onion, the eggs, salt, pepper and matzo meal& flour. Let the mixture rest for about 5 minutes so that the matzo meal can absorb some moisture. If the mixture still seems very wet, add a bit more matzo meal. In a very large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat oil that is about 1/8- to 1/4-inch deep until it is very hot but not smoking. To form each latke, use a large spoon to transfer some of the potato mixture to the oil; then flatten the mixture slightly with a spatula. Fry the latkes until they are well browned on both sides and crisp around the edges. Drain them well on paper towels. Repeat the process until all the latkes are fried. Serve the latkes as soon as possible for the best taste and texture. Accompany the latkes with applesauce, sour cream, and/or yogurt, as desired. Latkes can be frozen then heated in the oven at 400 till warm through. Does anyone have a recipe for fried foods?