by tamarjacobson


So, did Danny actually tag me? It appears that he did. Oy vey! A Jewish blogger? Moi? I can hear my mother tsk, tsk-ing in the background. Well, this particular meme terrifies me, and that is probably why I assumed (with relief, I might add) that I had not been tagged.

However, I will take the challenge because a) we are coming to the end of Hanukkah and I will soon be winging my way West to celebrate Christmas with a lovable group of Unitarians; and b) I don’t ever remember Danny participating in a meme and this seems like a great one-time event I would be honored to participate in.

So, here goes, and please forgive my ignorance about all matters Hanukkah:

1. Quick! You must turn a plate of latkes into an upscale gourmet delight (as if they aren’t already?). What would you add to them to dress them up, flavor and/or garnish them?

I have never made latkes and eaten them only a very few times. From what I have experienced, I really love applesauce on them, although recently at our University’s President’s reception, lox and sour cream, and sauteed vegetables were all options as well. I did not try them but it all looked pretty exciting.

2. What is the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard anyone say about Chanukah?

Hm … I have never heard anything dumb. I have received Chanukah cards which I think is unusual. When I lived in Israel for 19 years (18 years ago) the only time we gave or sent cards was for Rosh Hashanah. And I have heard of people having Chanukah bushes, which is also unusual for me. I am always tickled by blue twinkling lights that some Jewish people use to decorate their homes during Chanukah time. All of it seems like such a wanting-to-be-like-Christmas-trip only in blue and silver! Not that I judge it. We all adapt to the cultures we become a part of. In fact, Chanukah was not such a big deal in Israel. It reminds me of all the Israelis who turned Yom Kippur into a bicycle holiday, when I lived there. Because, all the roads were bare of cars on Yom Kippur, and so secular people used the day to ride bikes safely all over the country.

3. What’s the best possible use for olive oil?

"Simu shemen, shemen zayit …" I start warbling to myself, a Hanukkah song I used to sing with the children in my preschool many years ago. Here are some best possible uses I can think of: Olive oil in my chopped, garlicky, Israeli salad; in my hair to make it soft and shiny; olive oil in a tomato, basil, mozzarella salad; for cooking sufganiyot; drizzled on fresh, hot, Italian bread; on top of a really good plate of humus or tahina; and, last but not least, for lighting an ancient oil-based Hanukkiyah.

4. Settle it once and for all. Latkes or hammentaschen? Which do you prefer? What about pitting the winner of that contest against sufganiyot?

Okay. Latkes any day. I really don’t like "oznei haman" one bit. Never have! But overall, I definitely prefer a hot, yeasty sufganiyah on a cold, rainy, wintry night walking down Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem.

5. What’s the best way to mix up a game of dreidel?

Well, I actually have never played a game of dreidel per se. As a teacher in my preschool we would sing about sevivonim and play with them briefly through song. Of course, the words we used were, "Nes gadol haya POH" (here) instead of "sham" (there) which is used in the diaspora. Each year, I would organize a big Hanukkah party with the children and their families. Everyone would come dressed up and we would eat sufganiyot and clementinot and sing beautiful Hebrew Hanukkah songs of bravery, freedom and light. The classroom would be decorated with children’s art work and I would lace asparagus fern around the ceiling. Tied up in the middle of the ceiling was a huge sevivon (dreidel), and at a certain point in the evening I would lower it to the floor, only to discover inside, bags of treats as a surprise for all the children. One time, David the Duck (really called "kfir habarvaz" but translated into David the Duck when I immigrated to the States), a very yellow and orange-beaked duck puppet I usually played with at circle times, who had gone missing for a whole week, suddenly appeared inside that large dreidel much to the children’s amazement and delight.

6. My novel, “Three Fallen Women,” shockingly enough, is about the lives of three women. Which three women would you like to have over this year for latkes and why?

Now, this is a tough question for me. And on any given day these choices would surely change. Famous women for me might be Marian Wright Edelman, bell hooks, and Germaine Greer. But this year I would love to see Laura, Jan and Vera. And, yes, I suspect, even after all our trials and tribulations I would dearly love to have over my mother, sisters, and sisters-in-law … but that would constitute way more than just three …

7. Other than “Three Fallen Women” (har har), what book do you think would make a great Chanukah gift this year? What book would you like to receive as a gift this year?

Well, now, see, I am not in the habit of giving Chanukah gifts. Bags of chocolate coins perhaps or real money (gelt) for my son each year lately to help him through graduate school. Once, many years ago, I put a little dreidel and a bag of chocolate coins inside my son’s Christmas stocking but he really did not like me mixing up the holidays like that! And so I always think of gifts around this time of year as Christmas presents. I did buy The Inheritance of Loss for us this year and asked for Dawkin’s The God Delusion on my Amazon wish-list, which I hope to receive on Monday morning!

8. What bloggers didn’t participate in Chanukah Blog Tour 5767 and you think should have?

I don’t know how to answer this question. I like Danny‘s reply to this question, and so appreciate being included in his list. Lately, I am starting to meet some bloggers who seem to be identified as "Jewish bloggers," but am not sure if I would tag them since they are so brand new to me.

And now I bow graciously and in gratitude, and feel warm and snug within because I actually managed to complete this meme after all.

Thank you, Amy Guth for creating it in the first place.