Category Archives: December 2012


On the first night of Chanukah, my Jewish mother said,
“You’d better lose some weight or you’ll be dead.”

On the second night of Chanukah, my mother said to me,
“Have a few more latkes, but
you’d better lose some weight or you’ll be dead.”

On the third night of Chanukah, my mother said to me,
“Here’s your chocolate dreidel,
have a few more latkes, but
you’d better lose some weight or you’ll be dead.”

On the fourth night of Chanukah, my mother said to me,
“Taste my sugar cookies,
here’s your chocolate dreidel,
have a few more latkes, but
you’d better lose some weight or you’ll be dead.”

On the fifth night of Chanukah, my mother said to me,
taste my sugar cookies,
here’s your chocolate dreidel,
have a few more latkes, but
you’d better lose some weight or you’ll be dead.”

On the sixth night of Chanukah, my mother said to me,
“Don’t you like the doughnuts?
taste my sugar cookies,
here’s your chocolate dreidel,
have a few more latkes, but
you’d better lose some weight or you’ll be dead.”

On the seventh night of Chanukah, my mother said to me,
“Take another brownie,
Don’t you like the doughnuts?
taste my sugar cookies,
here’s your chocolate dreidel,
have a few more latkes, but
you’d better lose some weight or you’ll be dead.”

On the eighth night of Chanukah, my mother said to me,
“Try my home-made strudel,
take another brownie,
Don’t you like the doughnuts?
taste my sugar cookies,
here’s your chocolate dreidel,
have a few more latkes, but
you’d better lose some weight or you’ll be dead.”


Published November 1, 2012. From Cook’s Illustrated.

For truly crisp latkes, we had to eliminate the one thing potatoes are loaded with.

We wanted latkes that were light and not greasy, with buttery soft interiors surrounded by a shatteringly crisp outer shell. To achieve all of these goals, we needed to remove as much water as possible from the potato shreds by wringing them out in a kitchen towel and to minimize the release of what remained by microwaving the shreds briefly to cause the starches in the potatoes to form a gel. With the water taken care of, the latkes crisped up quickly and absorbed minimal oil. (

We prefer shredding the potatoes on the large holes of a box grater, but you can also use the large shredding disk of a food processor; cut the potatoes into 2-inch lengths first so you are left with short shreds. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

• 2pounds russet potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, and shredded
• 1/2cup grated onion
• Salt and pepper
• 2large eggs, lightly beaten
• 2teaspoons minced fresh parsley
• Vegetable oil

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 200 degrees. Toss potatoes, onion, and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl. Place half of potato mixture in center of dish towel. Gather ends together and twist tightly to drain as much liquid as possible, reserving liquid in liquid measuring cup. Transfer drained potato mixture to second bowl and repeat process with remaining potato mixture. Set potato liquid aside and let stand so starch settles to bottom, at least 5 minutes.

2. Cover potato mixture and microwave until just warmed through but not hot, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring mixture with fork every 30 seconds. Spread potato mixture evenly over second rimmed baking sheet and let cool for 10 minutes. Don’t wash out bowl.

3. Pour off water from reserved potato liquid, leaving potato starch in measuring cup. Add eggs and stir until smooth. Return cooled potato mixture to bowl. Add parsley, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and potato starch mixture and toss until evenly combined.

4. Set wire rack in clean rimmed baking sheet and line with triple layer of paper towels. Heat 1/4-inch depth of oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking (350 degrees). Place 1/4-cup mound of potato mixture in oil and press with nonstick spatula into 1/3-inch-thick disk. Repeat until 5 latkes are in pan. Cook, adjusting heat so fat bubbles around latke edges, until golden brown on bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until golden brown on second side, about 3 minutes longer. Drain on paper towels and transfer to baking sheet in oven. Repeat with remaining potato mixture, adding oil to maintain 1/4-inch depth and returning oil to 350 degrees between batches. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

5. TO MAKE AHEAD: Cooled latkes can be covered loosely with plastic wrap and held at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Alternatively, they can be frozen on baking sheet until firm, transferred to zipper-lock bag, and frozen for up to 1 month. Reheat latkes in 375-degree oven until crisp and hot, 3 minutes per side for room-temperature latkes and 6 minutes per side for frozen latkes.

MAJCO Communities to Light Menorot Together at Capitol, 12 Noon, Monday, Dec 10, 2012

From: Joshua Burnim
Date: December 3, 2012, 4:41:53 PM MST

Dear Montana Jews:

For the fourth year in a row, the Montana Association of Jewish Communities (MAJCO) is sponsoring a Chanukah Menorot Lighting event with Lt. Governor Bohlinger. We hope to again have all nine communities of MAJCO light a Menorah (one each). This will be our last year lighting the candles with Lt. Governor Bohlinger as a new administration takes over in January. Let’s use this opportunity to come together as Montana Jews and celebrate the light that we all share.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Monday, December 10
12:00 p.m. Lighting Ceremony with Lt. Governor Bohlinger; Please arrive at 11:30 a.m. to set up.

The State Capitol in Helena; the Rotunda Room which is below the Large Dome of the Capitol
Photo of State Capitol:
Parking: Park in the lot that is on the north side of the capitol or park on the streets all around the capitol. There should be plenty of parking, but please allow time to find a space and walk to the Rotunda. 1301 East 6th Avenue, Helena, MT

The nine communities of MAJCO, listed from East to West based on town/city of location, are:

  • Congregation Beth Aaron, Billings
  • Chabad Lubavitch of Montana
  • Congregation Beth Shalom, Bozeman
  • Congregation Aitz Chaim, Great Falls
  • The Jewish Community of Helena
  • Congregation B’nei Israel, Butte
  • Congregation Har Shalom, Missoula
  • Congregation Bet Harim, Kalispell
  • Synagogue of the Northern Rockies, Whitefish

At 11:30 a.m., we will meet to setup tables, tablecloths, Menorot, signs, and any info you bring about your community. Each community should bring their own Menorah and candles. MAJCO will provide extra candles and Menorot if needed, small signs for each community, and a program that includes contact information for each community. Communities are welcome to bring Chanukah foods to share.

MAJCO President, Josh Burnim, will welcome the crowd and introduce the Lt. Governor and the Rabbis. Rabbis Barbara Block, Chaim Bruk and Ed Stafman will speak on Chanukah. (Rabbi Allen Secher is not able to attend.) Lt. Governor Bohlinger will address the crowd. Then, we will all light our Menorot together and sing the blessings and Maoz Tzur. After the ceremony, we will share Sufganiyot and other Chanukah treats. The ceremony should only take 30 minutes, but we encourage all to spend some time before and afterwards with each other.

At 1:00 p.m., MAJCO Officers and Delegates will meet upstairs for a business meeting. All are welcome to attend.

I hope many of you, and at least one representative from each MAJCO community, will make the trip to Helena to share in this statewide Jewish event, building ties with Jews from across the state. Please share this email with other members of your Congregations and Communities.

Josh Burnim
MAJCO President


EDITOR’S NOTE: I received the following story from a congregant quite awhile back, and it intrigued me. So I Googled George Washington’s Chanukah and came up with quite a bit of information from Wikipedia — not just about this story, which has become part of American lore, but about how the Presidency and the White House have increasingly recognized Chanukah over the years. Although I know not everything you read in Wikipedia is true, the article I read seemed well sourced and at any rate was interesting to me. I encourage you to search it out yourself in the hopes that you might also find it interesting.

Meanwhile, here is the story that originally sparked my curiosity.

Posted on a blog by Rabbi Susan Grossman Monday December 10, 2007

For centuries, the lights of the Hanukkah menorah have inspired hope and courage. They may have also been responsible for inspiring then-General George Washington to forge on when everything looked bleak when his cold and hungry Continental Army camped at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777/8.

The story is told that Washington was walking among his troops when he saw one soldier sitting apart from the others, huddled over what looked like two tiny flames. Washington approached the soldier and asked him what he was doing. The soldier explained that he was a Jew and he had lit the candles to celebrate Hanukkah, the festival commemorating the miraculous victory of his people so many centuries ago over the tyranny of a much better equipped and more powerful enemy who had sought to deny them their freedom. The soldier then expressed his confidence that just as, with the help of God, the Jews of ancient times were ultimately victorious, so too would they be victorious in their just cause for freedom. Washington thanked the soldier and walked back to where the rest of the troops were camped, warmed by the inspiration of those little flames and the knowledge that miracles are possible.

Different names have been suggested for the mysterious soldier, Jeremiah Greenman, Capt Isaac Levy, or Private Asher Pollock of the Second Rhode Island Battalion, all of whom were at Valley Forge. Stephen Krensky, in his lovely children’s book, “Hanukkah at Valley Forge,” traces the story back to a 1778 meeting Washington had at the home of Michael Hart, a Jewish merchant in Easton, Pa., which Hart’s daughter recorded in her diary, when Washington described his meeting with the Jewish soldier.

For me, what is most interesting is that while Hanukkah falls at different times during the year, in 1777, the first night of Hanukkah fell on Dec. 24, Christmas Eve.

Washington’s Continental Army arrived at Valley Forge just five days earlier, on Dec. 19. His choice of a site was sharply criticized. The troops were struggling to build enough huts before the men, barefoot and starving, died of exposure. Mutiny was in the air. One can only imagine what was going through General Washington’s mind as he walked among the troops that night of Christmas Eve.

While some might question the veracity of the story, because the details of the Jewish soldier’s identity may be lost in time, here are its “truths: ” Like generations of Jews before him, that soldier served as a “light unto the nations” (Isaiah 42:6), bringing inspiration and courage to a nation in its birth pangs. And he did so in a perfectly American way, a way in which a miracle did result, the miracle by which the light from one religion helps give comfort and courage to another.

It is just such religious tolerance and cooperation that the world needs so desperately today.


Once again, it is time to start thinking about signing up for shifts at the local Domestic Violence Shelter for Women (Mercy Home), so that the dedicated 24/7 staff there can spend Christmas with their families.

Here are the shifts we need to fill:

  • Monday, 12/24: 2-5 PM
  • Monday, 12/24: 5-8 PM
  • Monday, 12/24 8-11 PM
  • Tuesday, 12/25: 8-11 AM
  • Tuesday, 12/25: 11 AM — 2 PM
  • Tuesday, 12/25: 2-5 PM

To comply with the Mercy Homes rules, men are welcome to help cover a shift as long as they are accompanied by a female. For those of you who have never done this before, it is a great mitzvah to help out with the Mercy Home and the women who reside at the shelter. Duties include answering the phone (a script is provided, and an on-call staff member is available if you need help), monitoring the alarms, and signing residents in and out. Residents often stay with friends or family members during the holiday, so there may be only 1 or 2 residents on the premises — or none, so be sure to bring a good book to read or a movie to watch.

If you are able to help, or have any questions, please contact Wendy Weissman at 727-4098 or The location of the shelter is confidential, so once I have the volunteer list, I will tell you where you need to be.

Thanks in advance.