Please Light a Menorah


On Thursday, December 7th, 2023, as the sun sets, the eight-day Holiday of Chanukah will begin. It is a special time of year that Jews across the globe look forward to, but this year, many of us are scared, discouraged, or in some cases, not allowed, to celebrate publicly.

There are many ways I could describe Chanukah – what it is, and what it represents. It is a festival of light. It is a celebration of a victory over evil, and it’s also the realization of a miracle. The story dates back to ancient Israel, almost 2,200 years ago, when Jewish forces defeated the Seleucid King Antiochus IV. Antiochus’ army tried to desecrate the Temple in Jerusalem, and as the story goes, when Jewish forces returned to the Temple, they renewed and restored it. They found only enough oil to light the Temple lamps for one night, but the oil lasted long enough to provide light for eight nights.

Since then, Jews in Israel, and around the world, celebrate this joyous story. And in dark times, we need to celebrate, with light, more than ever.

Many religions and cultures celebrate a festival of lights at this time of year. For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, we are approaching the longest, darkest days of the year, and we gather together to bring light to the darkness. Christmas trees are covered in beautiful lights and homes are lit up with bright colours. For Diwali, people place clay lamps outside their homes to symbolize the inner light that protects from spiritual darkness.

And Chanukah? A Menorah, also known as a Chanukiah, is lit, with a new candle added each night until the nine-branch candelabra glows bright on the eighth night. It is traditional to place the Menorah in the home’s window, to share its warmth and light with the community.

My husband said to me yesterday, “I don’t feel safe placing our Menorah in our front window this year.” Every year, since we got married, we have lit the same Menorah, and placed it in our front window. Whether we lived in France, New York or Toronto, no matter who we celebrated with, we lit, and sang, beside the window.

But my husband, and Jews around the world, are terrified to do that this year. Hours after my husband shared his fear with me, I saw a Facebook post from an American friend about Project Menorah, started by a Jewish man named Adam Kulbersh.

Here’s what Adam wrote, “Project Menorah is a grassroots movement encouraging non-Jews to place a Menorah, along with their other decorations, in their windows this December in fellowship with Jewish friends and neighbors who might otherwise not feel safe to do so. Participants are asked to share photos of their Hanukkah decorations on social media with the hashtags #onlyloveliveshere #projectmenorah.”

Jews are feeling isolated right now, and we need our non-Jewish friends more than ever. No matter your religion, nationality, ethnicity or race, it is never okay to attack another person because of their religion, nationality, ethnicity or race. Putting a Menorah in your window tells us that you are standing up against hate.

But there’s more. While it is traditional to place a lit Menorah in the window, Jews also join together, as a community, to light the Menorah throughout Chanukah. Some people celebrate at parties, or they stand side by side with non-Jews, in public spaces, to light a large candelabra. It is perfectly normal at this time of year to see a Menorah at city hall, in parks or large public squares. Remember, a central part of Chanukah is to bring light to the world.

So, I was further upset, last night, when my brother-in-law, who was born and raised in Moncton, New Brunswick, and owns a home there, sent me an article from CBC. This was the headline, “Menorah won’t be displayed outside Moncton city hall for first time in 20 years.” City council, in this small city in eastern Canada, decided, behind closed doors, according to the mayor, that, “City hall should be neutral as far as religion is concerned.”

A Menorah brings light and joy to all who see it. The public lighting of a Menorah is a way that a community, Jews and non-Jews, can come together to celebrate tolerance and the values we share as human beings. I don’t know what dark forces came over the city council of Moncton, but they should feel ashamed.

I don’t always ask you to take action when I write, but today, I’m asking for a few small favours:

Please, Light a Menorah

No matter what you celebrate, or how you celebrate, join Jews around the world from Thursday, December 7th to Thursday, December 14th, to light a Menorah, and place it in your window. Or, if you don’t have one, follow these steps, recommended by the Project Menorah team. You can also reach out to a Jewish friend and light the Menorah with them one night.

Write to the Mayor of Moncton

We need to let the Mayor of Moncton know that what she did is not okay. Email Mayor Dawn Arnold, and politely explain to her how her decision is offensive. She can be reached at Please copy

Help us Bring Them Home

While almost 100 people who were kidnapped on October 7th were released over the past week, over 100 people are still being held captive by terrorists in Gaza. There are still women and children, men young and old, people with citizenship from countries across the globe, who are hostages. Their lives are in danger. Many of them need medical help, and they are all malnourished. Write to your local government. Hang a poster of a hostage. Attend a rally. Tell your friends that terrorism can’t win.




17 Potatoes Makes 95 Latkes


I have seen dozens of posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram the last few days that have featured groups of people standing in front of a lit nine-branch menorah, wishing me a Happy Chanukah. Those are all nice photos, as we celebrate our festival of lights. But for me, it’s the festival of oil. Or fried oil to be more exact. Okay, for me it’s all about my latkes.

I don’t often boast like this, but I think I make the best latkes. For those of you who don’t know what latkes are (first of all, shame on you), I will briefly explain. The essence of the latke is the story of the great miracle that is at the heart of the story of Chanukah. The quick version goes back over 2,100 years ago, when a small but brave group of Jews living in Jerusalem, led by the Maccabees, defeated the Syrian forces, led by King Antiochus IV. As they cleaned up their desecrated temple, the Jews found only enough oil to light the lamps for one night.

But a great miracle happened, and the oil lasted for 8 nights! So, while there is much to celebrate during the holiday of Chanukah, we always remember the oil. And what better way to celebrate oil then to heat a ton of it up in a fry pan and cook some delectable food?

Take a potato, shred it (with a hand shredder of course), mix in eggs, onion, a bit of flour, baking powder, salt and pepper, and you have the ingredients of a latke. Or in my case, 17 potatoes, and you get 95 latkes. I take latke-making very seriously, and a big reason for why mine are so good is that I have the spirit and strength of my grandmothers with me as I cook.

First of all, I wear my Nanny’s apron. It’s not gorgeous, but it protects me from oil splatters and keeps me relatively clean. Second, I use my Bubby’s electric fry pan, which is definitely older than I am. Maybe it’s built-in grime from decades ago is what makes my latkes extra tasty.

I jumped into my annual latke-making on Tuesday night, the first night of Chanukah. With my range hood fan set to high and electric fry pan powered up, I got to work. My parents, uncle, children and husband were on hand to test and taste, and we ate through a few dozen latkes in no time.

Yesterday I brought in a bunch of latkes from the Tuesday night batch to work. I enjoyed watching my colleagues dive in. For one person, it was her first ever latke. She timidly asked me, with her latke on her plate, what exactly is a latke, and I proudly explained. Then she tasted it and was hooked. I really felt like a proud mother at that moment, when I saw my colleague enjoy her first latke. It made my day.

So, you ask, what makes MY latke so good? Well, I think it’s many things. Good, quality potatoes (I like Yukon Gold), parboil the potatoes and hand shred them. Gently mix the batter of course. Piping hot oil in my Bubby’s electric fry pan of course. And I form my potato mixture into a slightly flattened ball. I immerse the latkes in hot oil just long enough so that they are golden brown and crispy on the outside but perfectly soft on the inside.

Beautiful Yukon gold potatoes


The shredded potato mixture is ready to jump into the fry pan – note newspaper set up to protect my countertops from the flying grease.

Don’t the latkes look happy in there?

Look at that bubbling oil. Scrumptious.

Is your mouth watering now? Are you craving a hot, greasy, crispy one right now? I’d share a few more from my batch, but I only have a few left. We can’t stop eating them!

Close up of the golden crispy latkes

And while I admit that I was more focused on my latkes than my family on Tuesday night, and took many more photos of my kitchen than my children, I did snap a family selfie last night, on the second night of the holiday. What would Chanukah be without a photo of children and a lit Chanukiah? And latkes of course!

Happy Chanukah!

Yes our token sweet family with the lit Chanukah photo. We had to do it.