Some Jews celebrate Hanukkah and only Hanukkah, and my red-and-green tasseled hat goes off to them. But others of us come from either mixed heritage or mixed messages; we celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah with widely divergent measures of each.
Some unpack prolific menorah collections, many make latkes, others
make doughnuts and most buy presents - but whatever a
family's traditions to prepare for Hanukkah, hundreds of Islanders
will light the first menorah candles at sundown this evening, the
beginning of the eight-night Festival of Lights.
I come from a family where everyone assumes a role in the kitchen. My brother mans the grill, you can usually find me elbow deep in sugar and butter, my father makes a mean Bolognese sauce, and my mother is one of those cooks who can whip up something delicious with whatever is in the fridge.
But there was one Hanukkah a few years ago where no matter what we did, dinner was bound for disaster.
As a child, the closest I ever came to Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup was through a slide of Andy Warhol’s iconic print in an art history class; except for once a year, Hanukkah, which began this week. It’s the key to my great-grandmother’s brisket recipe, and last weekend I found myself elbow deep in it as I made the dish for the first time by myself.