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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Ask the Rebbetzin (Page 23)

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Author Topic: Ask the Rebbetzin
Stephan
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Here is a question. Why does the secular humanist Jewish organization in Washington DC have Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services? I burst out laughing when I saw the advertisement. At least they were not charging.
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rivka
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Ask them, not me.

At least they have services, not a dance.

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Dobbie
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They have a lot to atone for.
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brojack17
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Oh great Rebbetzin, [Hail]

Can you tell me the lyrics to Dradle, dradle, dradle? My nephew is playing it in his beginning band concert this year and I sang what I knew.

Dradle, dradle, dradle, I made you out of clay.

That's all I know.

Also, can you give me the significance of the dradle? Why is it synonymous with Hanukkah.

Thanks,

Jack

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rivka
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The rebbetzin wonders if next time you could ask after Shabbos, instead of right before? [Wink]

It's actually spelled dreidel, and the wikipage is pretty good. Song.

Origin

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scholarette
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Would an orthodox Jew be offended if a Gentile lit the appropriate number of candles for each night, without saying the appropriate prayers?
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brojack17
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Maybe my mispelling was what was the problem. I only got the South Park version.

Sorry about the Shabbos timing. Thanks for the info and enjoy your day of rest (at least I hope you enjoyed it since you probably are not going to read this until Sunday).

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by scholarette:
Would an orthodox Jew be offended if a Gentile lit the appropriate number of candles for each night, without saying the appropriate prayers?

"Offended" is too strong a word. I consider it mystifying.
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Armoth
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I think it's kinda cute. The major reason for the lighting of the candles in teh first place is "Pirsumei Nissa" - Publicizing the miracle. I suppose it's pretty cool if gentiles want to publicize it too...
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rivka
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I don't know about it being "the major reason"; it is one of them.
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Lisa
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No, I think Armoth is right about it being the major reason. In fact, it may be the only reason. Can you think of any others? Certainly all the rules about where the candles have to be (height, etc) are based on pirsumei nisa.
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rivka
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Commemorating the nes. Pirsumei nisah has to be secondary to that, almost by definition. And since if you are alone on a desert island, you still light, clearly not the only reason.
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scholarette
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My husband's grandfather was Jewish, but not his grandmother. So, kinda random traditions have been passed down. I was baffled when I got a tray of Christmas cookies that included hamatashan. Sadly, my mother in law didn't even know what they were supposed to go with- just that they were yummy cookies her father loved to eat and were somehow Jewish. Now that we have a toddler, we are deciding what traditions we want to keep and what we want to modify and all that. I don't want to take a Jewish holiday and celebrate it in a way that would offend Jewish people. If I looked up prayers online and did them, would that be better?
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Armoth
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Rivka - Pirsumei Nissa does not mean publicizing the miracle only to others, but also to yourself.

Scholarette - While some people get offended, I probably would never be offended by the way you choose to practice unless you had that intention.

That having been said - I always find that tradition is always great especially when it is meaningful. Prayers are always good - there are some nice Chanuka songs (My Acapella group performs Ma'oz Tzur and I happen to think it's really pretty). And thre are traditions to eat donuts, and latkes (pretty much anything fried in oil) to commemorate the miracle that happened with the oil.

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Shmuel
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quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
No, I think Armoth is right about it being the major reason. In fact, it may be the only reason. Can you think of any others? Certainly all the rules about where the candles have to be (height, etc) are based on pirsumei nisa.

Pirsumei nisa is the major reason why they're lit publically instead of privately; commemoration, recognition, and appreciation of the miracles would be the major reasons for lighting at all.

More to the point, a major -- I'd say the major -- theme of Chanukah is the restoration of full Jewish observance, defeating external forces and internal assimilationists. I won't go as far as saying it would be offensive for a non-Jewish family with some Jewish blood to light a menorah, but I do think the irony would be staggering.

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Armoth
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Point taken.
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Armoth
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Theres a whole lotta Jews on hatrack btw!
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Armoth:
Rivka - Pirsumei Nissa does not mean publicizing the miracle only to others, but also to yourself.

It's been years since I learned these discussions inside, but IIRC, whether lighting the menorah alone (desert island or at midnight on a small street) qualifies as pirsumei nisah hinges on precisely that point, and there are opinions both ways.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Shmuel:
More to the point, a major -- I'd say the major -- theme of Chanukah is the restoration of full Jewish observance, defeating external forces and internal assimilationists. I won't go as far as saying it would be offensive for a non-Jewish family with some Jewish blood to light a menorah, but I do think the irony would be staggering.

Well said.
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Lisa
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See, when I first answered, I didn't realize that we were talking about a family that involved intermarriage. That does change things.

Around ten years ago (back before I mellowed -- yes, this is me mellow), I had responded to a request from a woman on a newsgroup who was asking for information on Hanukkah, so that she and her non-Jewish daughter could share it with the non-Jewish daughter's Jewish husband. My reply was super-intemperate, and while I wouldn't necessarily phrase it the same way today, I do stand by the facts. Link.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
See, when I first answered, I didn't realize that we were talking about a family that involved intermarriage. That does change things.

So if non-Jews b'nai non-Jews want to light a menorah, that's better?
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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by scholarette:
Would an orthodox Jew be offended if a Gentile lit the appropriate number of candles for each night, without saying the appropriate prayers?

"Offended" is too strong a word. I consider it mystifying.
Ooooo . . . fire.
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Armoth
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
See, when I first answered, I didn't realize that we were talking about a family that involved intermarriage. That does change things.

So if non-Jews b'nai non-Jews want to light a menorah, that's better?
It's certainly less ironic.

In my opinion, Orthodox Jews have a lot of bitter pills to swallow about the state of Judaism in the modern world. That having been said - even though it may be ironic, perhaps it is best to smile at those who seek to re-connect to tradition.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Armoth:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
See, when I first answered, I didn't realize that we were talking about a family that involved intermarriage. That does change things.

So if non-Jews b'nai non-Jews want to light a menorah, that's better?
It's certainly less ironic.
Maybe if they are practicing b'nei Noach. Otherwise, the irony of Yevanim lighting seems to me no less than Misyavnim doing so.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Ooooo . . . fire.

I'm going to assume you're kidding.
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ketchupqueen
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I'm okay with not lighting the candles if it's offensive to anyone (okay, not that I have a great desire to do so-- though I am always interested in observing others' traditions and by observing I mean watching, not practicing religous observances) but can I get in on some of the latkes? I love latkes.
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Dagonee
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Ooooo . . . fire.

I'm going to assume you're kidding.
I interpreted this as a statement about what was actually left if one removed the prayers and other elements.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
See, when I first answered, I didn't realize that we were talking about a family that involved intermarriage. That does change things.

So if non-Jews b'nai non-Jews want to light a menorah, that's better?
Yes, I think so. Non-Jews can be righteous.
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Armoth
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
I've been at a seder table with non-Jews, and enjoyed having them there. [Smile] As far as non-Jews making a seder of their own, I admit to not seeing the point, but figure I don't need to. [Wink]

OTOH, I've heard of churches using a seder as a missionary tactic, and that I would take issue with.

I was showing a friend this thread and I thought it was kinda cool that years and years ago you had a similar discussion. Okay, maybe not a discussion, but a similar point!
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Lisa
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As far as I'm aware, it's actually assur to have non-Jews at the seder. It's problematic to have non-Jews at a yom tov meal at all, but the seder is particularly problematic.

And I want to clarify what I said in my previous post. The struggle on Hanukkah was not against non-Jews. The enemy on Hanukkah was assimilated Jews. Frankly, while even non-religious Jews are obligated to light the candles on Hanukkah, I'd rather see non-Jews do it than Jews who would absolutely have been on the side of the Hellenists had they lived back then.

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dkw
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rivka, dag got it right -- you said you were mystified why non-Jews* would want to light a menorah. The only reason I could think of was that lit candles are pretty. And fun to light. Although I don't think I ever would.

Except maybe in a situation like the one in Montana in '92.


*hadn't thought about the situation of partial-Jewish families wanting to keep some of the traditions.

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Tante Shvester
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Ooooo . . . fire.

I'm going to assume you're kidding.
I interpreted this as a statement about what was actually left if one removed the prayers and other elements.
Like air, water and earth.


My reaction to the non-Jewish adoption of the menorah as a holiday symbol or decoration tends to be tolerant but bemused. I work in a nursing home with a mostly non-Jewish clientele and staff, and, alongside the trees and Santas and reindeer and other stuff, there are menorahs and dreidls. I see it as them wanting to be inclusive and not make anyone feel left out. Which is nice.

Mostly, I just ignore the displays, but I can't seem to resist quietly "correcting" the electric menorahs to the right number of lights every night.

I have, both here and at other jobs, refused to participate in menorah lighting ceremonies, though. I understand that my colleagues want me to feel included in their celebrations, and that is a nice sentiment, but asking me to lead a ceremony where I light the candles and say the prayer at lunchtime (not the appropriate time for the ceremony) mostly makes me feel put on the spot. I have to respectfully explain why I'd rather not, and then have to rebut my colleagues' arguments about the "true meaning of Channukah" (or Christmas, or Solstice) being that we are all one people bringing light into darkness or someother such made-up stuff. Which, as I said, is nice and well-meaning, but really not representing my beliefs.

And, especially cringe-worthy, was when, after I excused myself, I was told that I should just be there and observe, so that I could be a part of the group, and I had to witness the other Jewish staff member (a non-observant Jew) attempt to pull it off by lighting the candles and then, partway through the benediction, realizing that she didn't actually know the proper benediction, so, instead, pronouncing the benediction over eating bread.

Quite honestly, I'd rather my non-Jewish colleagues enjoy their holiday without apology. Christmas is a big-deal Christian holiday. There is nothing wrong with wanting to celebrate it and publicise that miracle. I'm really more content being left out of it.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Dagonee:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
Ooooo . . . fire.

I'm going to assume you're kidding.
I interpreted this as a statement about what was actually left if one removed the prayers and other elements.
Understood. But it's not like plenty of Christians don't light candles for Christmas, right? Although it seems strings of lights have largely replaced them, there are definitely people with candles in old holiday paintings. In like, museums and stuff. And on stamps! And I think in Norman Rockwell paintings.
quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
As far as I'm aware, it's actually assur to have non-Jews at the seder. It's problematic to have non-Jews at a yom tov meal at all, but the seder is particularly problematic.

While true, there are ways around it. My rav has non-Jews at his seder table on a regular basis.

quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
And I want to clarify what I said in my previous post. The struggle on Hanukkah was not against non-Jews. The enemy on Hanukkah was assimilated Jews.

Who exactly do you think were the soldiers on the other side? There were Yevanim too.

quote:
Originally posted by Tante Shvester:
Quite honestly, I'd rather my non-Jewish colleagues enjoy their holiday without apology. Christmas is a big-deal Christian holiday. There is nothing wrong with wanting to celebrate it and publicise that miracle. I'm really more content being left out of it.

Exactly.
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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
As far as I'm aware, it's actually assur to have non-Jews at the seder. It's problematic to have non-Jews at a yom tov meal at all, but the seder is particularly problematic.

While true, there are ways around it. My rav has non-Jews at his seder table on a regular basis.
Interesting. I wonder how he pulls that off.

quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
quote:
Originally posted by Lisa:
And I want to clarify what I said in my previous post. The struggle on Hanukkah was not against non-Jews. The enemy on Hanukkah was assimilated Jews.

Who exactly do you think were the soldiers on the other side? There were Yevanim too.
So I'd be irked at Syrian Greeks lighting Hanukkah candles. Maybe even Greeks in general. But Greek != Non-Jew. Yavan != Edom, either.
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rivka
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I was referring to an attitude, not a nationality.
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scholarette
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Non-Jews aren't supposed to be at seder? The college Hillel did a passover seder that anyone who paid could go to- and so did the local synagague one year. Is this a difference between reform and orthodox?
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rivka
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Almost certainly.

Although as I said, there are differing opinions (and methods) among Orthodox on this issue.



(Lisa, there is a relevant discussion on the Avodah listserv, April 2005. Looks like the relevant posts start Volume 14 : Number 114.)

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Lisa
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Thanks.
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romanylass
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
I'm okay with not lighting the candles if it's offensive to anyone (okay, not that I have a great desire to do so-- though I am always interested in observing others' traditions and by observing I mean watching, not practicing religous observances) but can I get in on some of the latkes? I love latkes.

My (very reform) neigbour brings over potatos and her Vitamix and makes us latkes every year. I don't know if this offends Orthodox Jews though.
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rivka
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Not even the tiniest bit. Latkes are a custom -- not a religious ritual.

Have a jelly donut too! [Big Grin]

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Armoth
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I'm offended. Why don't I get any latkes?!
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rivka
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Come over next week. I'll make you some.
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Tante Shvester
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My mother makes some kind of low-carb, fat-free latkes, out of mushed up cauliflower and baked in the oven.


She's missing the point.

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Mrs.M
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Aerin goes to public school (and will continue to - our local Torah academy has no special needs program at all, which I see as a big failing of Orthodox education in general, but that's another matter) and they're really nice about working with us regarding the holidays. The public schools here celebrate Christmas, not "winter holidays." They have carols and Christmas plays and Santa actually comes to the school. We're just keeping Aerin home that day. Her wonderful teachers have provided alternate Hanukkah art projects for Aerin to do while her Christian classmates do their Christmas projects. She painted a menorah last week and it was actually the first thing she painted ever (this is a child who wouldn't do any arts and crafts at all before she started school).

BTW, we picked the Hebrew names for the twins, finally. Leni's is very close in sound to her English name, but Camille's is very far. We ended up giving them both 2 names - it just didn't sound right for them to have just one. Now I just have to break the news to Andrew's parents that there won't be herring at the naming.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Mrs.M:
which I see as a big failing of Orthodox education in general

Agreed. My son has bounced from school to school, including public school for over a year, for exactly that reason.
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ketchupqueen
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Come over next week. I'll make you some.

Can I come too? [Big Grin]
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JennaDean
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quote:
My mother makes some kind of low-carb, fat-free latkes, out of mushed up cauliflower and baked in the oven.
Seriously, how can something made of cauliflower and baked be called latkes?

That's like putting broccoli into a muffin tin and pouring cheese sauce on top and calling it cupcakes.

Um, no offense to your mom.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Come over next week. I'll make you some.

Can I come too? [Big Grin]
If you're a very good girl. [Wink]
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ketchupqueen
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Hmmm, I'm not sure I know how to be...
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Shmuel
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quote:
Originally posted by JennaDean:
quote:
My mother makes some kind of low-carb, fat-free latkes, out of mushed up cauliflower and baked in the oven.
Seriously, how can something made of cauliflower and baked be called latkes?
It's actually not that much of a stretch. I've had baked potato latkes, though not for Chanukah... it makes as much sense as baked french fries. [Edited to clarify that I regard the latter as totally normal.] Postulate an intermediate step of mashed cauliflower patties fried in oil, which could easily be termed cauliflower latkes, then stick 'em in the oven instead. [Smile]
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