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Arise And Shine: Jelly Doughnuts

November 27, 2005
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The Syrian army went from city to city, enforcing the king’s decrees. Mattathias, a priest with five sons, courageously stood against the Syrians proclaiming, “Though all the nations that are under the king’s dominion obey him and fall away, every one from the religion of their fathers, yet will I and my sons and my brethren walk in the covenant of our fathers.”

Thus, the Maccabean revolt began. Jerusalem was won, the Hellenized high priest was routed, and the desecrated Temple was restored—the reason for celebrating Hanukkah (Feast of Dedication). However, the battle continued for years, eventually ending with Jewish rule led by Mattathias’s grandson, marking the beginning of the Hasmonean period.

Sadly, this noble fight to preserve the Torah and all things Jewish was short-lived. Later Hasmonean rulers took Greek names and even persecuted the rabbis. Bitter fighting within Israel weakened them until they fell under Roman rule.

Hanukkah reminds Jews of the courage and sacrifice necessary to fight assimilation––considered by some Jews as the greatest threat to Judaism. A few Jews immigrate to Israel to escape it. Surely in Israel one can live as a Jew, free from the dominating influence of other cultures.

Have you ever thought how hard it is for a Jew to be in America during the Christmas season? Nancy Morin remembers what it was like before she made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) four years ago: “I had grown to hate it…I felt as though I was constantly being told ‘You’re different; you don’t fit in here.’ It was a constant reminder that I was living in someone else’s world…now I’m living in mine…I no longer feel this time of year is about someone else, about their holidays and their customs, while I look on from the outside. Here it’s about us, about who we are and what we believe. The tension is gone and I can relax and enjoy the season.”

Many Jews don’t feel as strongly as Nancy. As a nation, Israel has always wanted to be like the nations. Yet, God’s mandate remains the same. One Jewish writer reflects: “To be an or la’goyim [light to the nations] is to keep the torch burning, often under impossible odds. We are a tiny nation given the difficult task of keeping the Torah alive in a world that is often hostile to the Jewish way of life. When we don’t know how to keep the fire burning, we need to look to the miracle of Hanukkah, find enough oil to last one night, and have faith that God will step in to make it last eight nights” (Amy Kramer).

May Hanukkah re-mind us all of the courage it takes to remain true to who we are—a people set apart for God’s purposes

Sufganiyot – Jelly Doughnuts

1 oz. (30gm) dry yeast
4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg, beaten lightly
3/4 tsp. salt
Apricot or raspberry jam for filling
Confectioners sugar as required
Oil for deep frying

Combine the yeast and 2 tbsp. each of the flour, sugar, and warm water. Cover with a towel and let stand until the mixture rises. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the remaining flour and sugar with the oil, egg, and salt. Mix well and add 1 cup of warm water and the yeast mixture. Stir until the batter is smooth and firm. Cover the batter with a towel and set aside to rise until doubled in bulk. This takes about 30 minutes.

After the batter has risen, turn it onto a well-floured board. Beat down the dough, cover with a damp towel, and let rise again. Cover the mixture with a towel and flatten by hand. Using a wine glass, punch out individual pieces from the dough. Cover these and allow to rise once again for about 1/2 hour.

Drop the individual pieces into a large pot containing very hot oil and fry until both sides are brown, turning the doughnuts occasionally as they fry. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent toweling. Using a cake decorator filled with jam, fill the inside of each doughnut. (Or use your finger and poke a hole in the side!) Sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes about 24.

Oily dishes are a reminder of the one-day supply of oil for the re-dedicated Temple’s menorah that miraculously lasted eight days. “The fun part: poking a finger inside the sufganiyot, giving a wiggle and twist, pushing a dollop of jam knuckle-deep, then two, till the cavity gleams raspberry” (Rachel Barenbla).

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