Tuesday, December 04, 2007

On the First Night of Hanukkah...

Tonite is the magical 8-day festival of lights: Hanukkah! It celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple at the time of the Maccabee rebellion. The festival is observed by the kindling of lights on each night of the holiday: one on the first night, two on the second, and so on. Here in the USA it is also celebrated by the buying of copious amounts of gifts. But as Mom is not American and never experienced this as a child in South Africa - she doesn't "buy into that shit" to quote her direct. Sure, Dad got a gift (he basically pleaded with Mom to buy him a watch with a built in compass - Mom gave in thinking it would help Dad not get lost so much). So far, I have had one gift - a big furry rat toy from Dad (So far it is still in tact. I am giving myself 8 days to get the squeaker) and of course, the lovely gifts from Miss Amelia.

Hanukkah is Mom's favorite Jewish holiday and I like it too. I especially like latkes. So before we go on, I am going to don my apron and teach you all how to make latkes - pieces of potato fried in oil and topped with either sugar/cinnamon (South Africa) or sour cream and apple sauce (USA). FYI - in Israel, where Mom spent 6.5 years of her life before meeting Dad and Me, they also eat lots and lots of donuts, known as sufganiyot during the holiday.

So with apologies to Rachel Ray...

Step 1: Peel the potatoes

Step 2: Grate the potatoes - you can use a food processor but doing it on a tiny grater has better effect says Mom...watch those fingers/paws everyone..

Step 3: Grate onion (try do it with your eyes closed as Mom started to weep half way through...)

Step 4: Beat 2 eggs and mix with some flour and baking powder

Step 5: In true Chanukah spirit, drench a pan in oil and add latke mixture.

Step 6: When browned, remove latkes and place on paper towel to absorb all the oil.

Step 7: Transfer latkes to a pretty plate and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar - that's how Mom likes it. Dad prefers the sour cream/apple sauce but Mom forgot to buy any!

Here is a picture of me from 2005 enjoying my very first latke. Boy I was thin in those heedy days:

I am really looking forward to going to Asta's holiday party on Dec. 6. Me and the Barkalot Boys Jake and Harry, being of the Jewish persuasion, will be bringing our latkes, donuts, dreidls (spinning tops) and Hanukkah music along to share our holiday spirit!

Dreidls (pictured right) are a big part of Hanukkah, and playing the Dreidl game is so much fun, it's even better than poker. Dreidl is a spinning top in Yiddish. They are known as a sivivon in Hebrew. Players use pennies, nuts, raisins, or chocolate coins (gelt) as tokens or chips. When us canines play, we will use pennies, Pupperoni, Milkbones, Wellness Wellbars, Natural Balance mini-logs and other delectable treats. Here is how it works:

Every dreidl has 4 symbols on it as it's a 4-sided top. These are letters of the Hebrew alphabet:

These letters mean "A Great Miracle Happened There". In Israel the dreidel is a bit different in that their letters mean " A Miracle Happened HERE!" The player spins the dreidel. When the dreidel stops, the letter that is facing up decides the fate.
NUN - nothing happens - next player spins the dreidel
GIMEL - player takes all tokens in the pot
HEY - player takes half of the pot
SHIN - player must put one token into the pot

See, its very easy. The challenge dear friends will be spinning the damn thing using our paws! Maybe we can just toss it in the air instead?
Or, we can do what George the Boxer does:

There are many wonderful songs associated with Hanukkah - I have two favorites, "Oh Hanukkah!" and "The Dreidl Song". The words of the first song capture the spirit of the holiday:

Chanuka, oh Chanuka

Chanuka, Oh Chanuka, come light the Menorah
Let's have a party, we'll all dance the hora
Gather round the table, we'll all have a treat
Sivivon to play with, and latkes to eat.
And while we are playing
The candles are burning bright
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
To remind us of days long ago.
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
To remind us of days long ago.

To hear the tune, you can watch this movie I found on Youtube of little kids giving it a go - sing along, it's good practice for our party on Friday.

And while we play the Dreidl game we will sing The Dreidl Song:

I Have a Little Dreidel
I have a little dreidel
I made it out of clay
And when it's dry and ready
Then dreidel I shall play!

(Chorus)Oh dreidel, dreidel, dreidel
I made it out of clay
And when it's dry and ready
Then dreidel I shall play!

It has a lovely body
With legs so short and thin
And when my dreidel's tired
It drops and then I win!


My dreidel's always playful
It loves to dance and spin
A happy game of dreidel
Come play now, let's begin!

Here you can see some cute kindergarten kids at their holiday concert singing the song. Sing along everyone!