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Why do we eat Latkes on Chanukah?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Holidays » Chanukah » The Customs | Subscribe | What is RSS?


The holiday of Chanukah commemorates a miracle that occurred with oil; the jug of oil which naturally should have lasted only one night, lasted eight.

To commemorate this miracle, we eat "oily" foods including fried potato pancakes called "Latkes." This custom of eating oily foods on Chanukah is at least nine hundred years old, because we find mention of this delicious custom in the writings of Rabbi Maimon, father of Maimonides.

This is also the reason why people eat donuts; they are also fried in oil.

See also What is Chanukah?

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Moses son of Maimon, born in Spain in 1135, died in Egypt in 1204. Noted philosopher and authority on Jewish law. Also was an accomplished physician and was the personal doctor for members of the Egyptian royalty. Interred in Tiberius, Israel.
An eight day mid-winter holiday marking: 1) The miraculous defeat of the mighty Syrian-Greek armies by the undermanned Maccabis in the year 140 BCE. 2) Upon their victory, the oil in the Menorah, sufficient fuel for one night only, burned for eight days and nights.