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The Calendar and Holidays (incl. Sabbath)

The History of Potato Latkes

Question: What is the history behind the custom of eating Potato Latkes [pancakes] on Chanuka? Were potatoes eaten by the Jews of the second Temple era?

Answer: Potatoes latkes [pancakes] are not involved in the story of Chanukah, and have only been part of the Chanukah scene for the past few hundred years. In fact, the potato was not even known to most of the world until the 16th Century. It is the oil that the latkes are fried in that is part of the Chanuka story. On Chanuka, Jews celebrate the open miracle of a one-day supply of consecrated, temple oil burning for eight days. The main commemoration of this wondrous event is to be found in the commandment to light the Chanuka candles. However, it is also customary to eat food fried in oil. Ergo, many eat the latke fried in oil.

All the Best,
Rabbi Azriel Schreiber

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