on Friday, 04 November 2016.
Posted in President's Blog
Message from our president
Let’s play password: Hanukkah - Menorah, Food - potato latke! The food most often associated with Hanukkah is most definitely the potato latke. It was one of my father’s favorite foods. Period. My cousin Ilik is probably the best potato latke maker I know. Regardless of the time of year, whenever she saw my father, Maynard, whether it was in her hometown of Jerusalem or visiting in Chicago, she would indulge him by frying up some of her crispy, brown pancakes. She was sure the neighbors in her Jerusalem apartment building thought she was crazy as they smelled the distinct aroma of latkes that always seemed to permeate a home for a good solid week, long after the delicious treats were consumed, even though it was the middle of summer.
One year during Hanukkah, Ilik was visiting us here in Chicago and gave me a 1-1 cooking lesson and shared the secrets to making a great potato pancake. It’s all about the oil; use lots of it and make sure it is really hot. The deeper the oil, the crispier the pancake. Potato pancakes are actually less greasy the more oil you fry them in as long as the oil is really hot.
Hanukkah, like all our Jewish holidays, brings distinct images to my mind. I think of colorful candles and beautiful Hanukkah menorahs. I think of children, either carefully or in great haste unwrapping presents. I see images of countless dreidel games, chocolate gelt, loads of laughter and always friends and family gathered together in celebration.
Several years ago, my office started a wonderful tradition at holiday time. Instead of giving gifts to each other, we chose to give holiday gifts to children who otherwise wouldn’t receive much at this season. One of my employees brings in the holiday wishes of these children, and we each pick a tag. Sometimes it's for a special gift like a camera or sometimes it's something practical like a winter coat. Regardless of the request, my office staff gets so much out of giving to others outside of our own inner circle. We may each want to take a timeout from Hanukkah gifting this year and consider donating time and/or resources to the community around us. There are so many good causes right in our own backyard.
Think about setting your alarm for 3 a.m. on Christmas morning and join Or Shalom social action volunteers serve a hot breakfast at the local PADS shelter. I can tell you from first-hand experience you will be glad you made the effort—the appreciative faces of the people you serve are a gift of another kind.
If early morning isn’t your thing, consider choosing a Mitzvah Meal week and provide weekend food for 30 school children right in our own area, who receive free and reduced meals while in school yet often go hungry on weekends. This is a great project to share with extended family or a group from your Or Shalom family. Purchase or collect the needed foods (a list is supplied) and one activity of your Hanukkah party could be filling the 30 bags. I plan to have my own Mitzvah Meal party with Or Shalom friends this year.
Volunteer at Feed My Starving Children in Libertyville. At this great organization you pack rice, soy, dried vegetables and a nutritionally-complete blend of vitamins and minerals into bags which are then sealed, boxed, placed on pallets and shipped to the neediest children around the world. Just two hours of your time helps feed hundreds of children.
Another favorite place to lend a hand is Bernie’s Book Bank, in Lake Bluff. Bernie’s Book Bank, supplies books to at risk youth throughout the Chicagoland area. Help collect books from family and friends to donate or consider volunteering to help sort, sticker and pack books for distribution. Our kids may take a new book for granted, but for some kids, their bag of books from Bernie’s opens the door to the joy of reading and just might change their life.
Remember, as you are enjoying your Hanukkah traditions this year, think about choosing to turn one day into a day of giving. And, when you are enjoying a crispy potato latke, take a bite for Maynard.
See you around the shul,
Jennifer LeventhalBoard President
Congregation Or Shalom21 Hawthorn ParkwayVernon Hills, IL 60061
Office HoursMondays: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.Tuesdays: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.Wednesdays: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.Thursdays: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.Fridays: 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.
P: 847-362-1948F: 847-362-7348
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