a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Eight Nights of Hanukkah:2 for 1-Punk Jews and Let’s Eat!

Posted on: December 12, 2012

I missed last night…I barely lit candles (had to blow them out). It was a crazy-long day that ended all the way up on the Upper West Side to watch a movie about Jews, what else?

The movie in question, Punk Jews, is an hour-long look into the lives of Jews who live “on the fringes”. Hasidic Jews who sing scream Gd’s praises in their punk rock band. Jews who are trying to keep Yiddish Theater alive-flash mob style. Jews who break with convention to find their own way to Gd, Torah and Judaism. It was short, but awesome with a much-needed section on Jews of Color.

While I don’t necessarily think JOCs are “on the fringes” in terms of who we are and how we practice our Judaism-most of my JOC friends are Orthodox/Conservodox/Traditional-It was a necessary inclusion into the film because people still don’t think that black Jews (or Latino Jews, Asian Jews, Indian Jews, Arabic Jews) exist. In fact, as I was leaving I overheard a woman say to her husband while getting onto the elevator right before my partner and I, “I didn’t know there were black Jews in America.” Hello, I’m standing right next to you lady!?

I do wish the movie did a better job of talking about LGBTQ Jews, especially when there are so many great LGBTQ Organizations and people out there doing amazing work. One can only hope that the Punk Jews Movement, as they’re calling it, doesn’t end with this film.


Onto today, Fifth Night of Chanukkah.

Recipe on Web SiteFood, nosh, grub, yummers, nom nom nom nom nom.

Like most holidays we like to enjoy our freedom with yummy yummy foods. As we learned last year, there are many different types of Chanukkah foods from many different ethnic and cultural traditions. If you haven’t had anything other than latkes and donuts this year, you’ve got three more nights to change it up with these amazing recipes.

The first is from the first Jewish cookbook I purchased, Aromas of Aleppo by Poopa Dweck. These atayef are stuffed pancakes that are fried and then covered with rosewater or orange syrup before being dipped into pistachio nuts. I made them last year and while I had a problem with them staying together they were divine and best served warm.

I was happy to find the recipe online. Which was easier than transcribing it from the book.

Shira (Rose Water Scented Syrup)
Vegetarian and vegan
Yields 2 cups (keeps well; could also use in cocktails)
From Aromas of Aleppo, The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews 

  • 3 c. white sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 t. lemon juice
  • 1/2 t. rose water or orange blossom water
  1. Boil the sugar, water and lemon juice for about 15 minutes. To tell if it is thick enough, grab out a teaspoon (carefully!) and let it cool a bit, then see if it is close to the consistency of honey.
  2. Allow to cool, then add the rose water or orange blossom water, and refrigerate. (The book has you add the rose water during the boiling, but I think it is better after).

Atayef – Syrian Ricotta-Filled Dessert Pancakes
To make vegan substitute egg replacer in the pancake and silken tofu fin the filling, or do a filling of chopped walnuts and apples)
Yields about 40, enough for at least 12 people
From Aromas of Aleppo, The Legendary Cuisine of Syrian Jews  

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 c. fresh ricotta (I prefer Colabro brand)
  • 1 c. cold shira syrup (above)
  • 1 c. shelled pistachios, chopped fine in a food processor
  1. Mix together the dry ingredients. Stir in the egg, then add water until you have a thin pancake batter, about like a crepe batter.
  2. Heat a griddle or large frying pan to medium and grease lightly.
  3. To make the pancakes, spread on 1 T. of batter and use the back of a spoon to quickly form it into a 3″ circle. Cook until bubbles just appear on one side. Do not flip, just remove it from the heat and place in a single layer on a baking sheet or work surface. Your goal is only to make the crepe firm enough to be filled, you don’t need it to be fully cooked. Do as many at a time as you can handle without overcooking. For me that was only about 4 at a time but they go quick.
  4. Fill each pancake with 1 teaspoon of ricotta. Do not overfill! Fold in half and seal with your fingertips. You can freeze them in a single layer at this point until you are ready to use them.
  5. For the final cooking, heat about 3/4 inch of oil in a smallish saucepan. Fry the atayef in small batches until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, douse with the shira syrup, and dip the tip in the pistachios. The shira should be very cold to prevent it from ruining the crispiness of the pancakes.
  6. Serve immediately, while still hot, and experience joy!

The holiday is all about the oil, right? (not really, but we learned that on day one.) So why not just eat some cake and skip all the friend nonsense. Jewcy.com has this lovely olive oil cake recipe I can’t wait to try.

Not Your Bubbe’s Almond Olive Oil Cake


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup ground almonds
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted and cooled

1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
3 tbsp milk, soy milk, or water
¼ tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp almond liquor

9-inch round cake pan

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour the pan and set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a large bowl, crack the eggs and whisk them slightly to break up the yolks. Add the sugar and whisk it in very thoroughly. Add the olive oil and whisk until the mixture is lighter in color and has thickened slightly, about one minute. Whisk in the extract and zest, and the orange juice.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk until they are thoroughly combined and you are left with a smooth batter.

5. Fold in the cooled toasted almonds.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes.

7. The cake is done when it springs back slightly when touched and a cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.

8. To make the glaze, pour the confectioners sugar into a owl and whisk slightly to break up any clumps. Add the milk, liquor, and lemon and whisk until completely smooth. Taste the glaze—if it’s too sweet, add a few more drops of lemon juice. Pour the glaze onto he top of the cake and allow it to drip down the sides. Let it set for a couple of minutes, and enjoy.

If you really really want latkes, spice it up with these Indian Spiced Latkes, also on Jewcy.com

So what have you been eating?




3 Responses to "Eight Nights of Hanukkah:2 for 1-Punk Jews and Let’s Eat!"

I’m making fried pickles for the husband.

OMG I love fried pickles!!

Besides food, olive oil has been used for religious rituals, medicines, as a fuel in oil lamps, soap-making, and skin care application. The Minoans used olive oil in religious ceremonies. The oil became a principal product of the Minoan civilization, where it is thought to have represented wealth. The Minoans put the pulp into settling tanks and, when the oil had risen to the top, drained the water from the bottom.[

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