2016-12-07 / Columns

The rebbitzin’s recipes: Celebrating the power of the Jewish woman


Many know the story of the miracles of Chanukah mentioned in the Talmud, but not enough people know of the heroic efforts of our ancestors documented in the Book of Maccabees that surround the miracles of Chanukah. There were two great women who sacrificed themselves on the altar of selflessness, and thereby inspired the Chanukah miracles to occur.

Yehudis, the daughter of the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, was taken as a mistress against her will to serve the Greek general Holofernes. One day, she served him dairy, salty foods. When he became thirsty, she cleverly offered him wine so that he would become tired and fall asleep. While he was resting, she beheaded him. This act required extreme courage; it was certainly not typical behavior for a daughter of the High Priest of Israel! Because of her love of G-d and her people Israel, she transcended beyond her comfort zone and killed the enemy general and saved her people. After killing Holofernes, she placed his head on a pole, and carried it back to Jerusalem, marching in the streets, as a sign of victory. The enemy was frightened, fled the scene, and Israel was victorious over the mighty Greeks.

Another narrative is advanced in Maccabees II about Hannah and her seven sons who sacrificed their lives for the sake of G-d; they died Al Kiddush Hashem. This is the highest form of sanctifying one’s life. The reward: Immediate entrance into the heavens. Hannah encouraged each son to give up his life when asked to bow to idols before the king. Each son was tortured in a brutal manner for simply refusing to do so. Even her young seven-year-old was brutally murdered. Hannah explained to the king that even though she carried each son for nine months of pregnancy, nursed each precious child; it was evident that this was the time for them to return their soul to their Creator. Hannah demonstrated remarkable strength; she was truly a Holy Jewish Woman. Under no circumstances would she have even entertained the thought of acquiescing to idolatry.

What can we learn from these two courageous women in Jewish history? That behind every great deed we see done resides inspirational acts by unsung heroes that paved the way towards their success. In the case of Chanukah, it was Yehudis and Hannah. As we light the candles this year, let’s notice and appreciate the great men and women in our lives who have sacrificed so that we can celebrate Chanukah and every day of our lives. Yehudis and Hannah did their part to sanctify the name of G-d and bring glory to G-d and the Jewish nation. We must do our part too. Just like every candle matters in the Menorah, every person matters in our world too.

Chanukah begins at the conclusion of the Sabbath, December 24. Each night, an additional candle is kindled in the Menorah, for eight nights. It is customary to serve dairy delights as a reminder of the acts of courage from Yehudis. Additionally, foods cooked or fried with oil such as latkes and doughnuts are enjoyed throughout the week of Chanukah.

Chanukah Sameach!

1 cup farro, cooked according to package instructions,
and set aside to cool
1 cup Feta cheese, cubed
1/2 cup grape tomatoes,
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 cup Persian cucumbers,
1 small can pitted and sliced
Black olives (optional)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 TBS. honey mustard
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. sea salt

Combine all of the above ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk together.

Pour on top of salad, mix together well, and marinate for one hour prior to serving

Serve on a bed of chopped romaine

Serves: 4-6.

6 grilled Portabella mushrooms (recipe follows)
1 cup quinoa
3/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. sea salt

For the grilled portabella mushrooms: Pre-heat oven to 400°F. Slice mushrooms and place onto a roasting pan coated with olive oil. Spray mushrooms with olive oil. Grill in oven for 5-7 minutes, remove from oven, and set aside to cool. Chop mushrooms finely.

Combine quinoa with mushrooms; add egg, flour, baking powder and salt. Fry latkes for 4- 5 minutes on each side in heated skillet coated with 2-3 TBS. canola oil. Repeat process, until all ingredients have been used.

Serves 4-6.

4 TBS. canola oil mixed with
6 TBS. flour

1 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine oil and flour in large skillet, add milk slowly, mixing together well. Add cheese, salt and pepper. Heat until bubbly, and gently toss together with zucchini ribbons.

2 green zucchini squash
2 yellow squash

Using a spiralizer, spiralize zucchini in order to form long ribbons. Heat in large skillet coated with olive oil for 4-5 minutes until slightly cooked. Set aside.

Serves 4-6.

These are baked, not fried!
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond milk

In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar and oil. Add dry ingredients, mixing together well. Add almond milk and vanilla, mixing until thoroughly combined. Pre-heat donut maker, and bake donuts for 5-7 minutes on each side. When baking donuts, place mixture into a pre-heated oven at 350°F in donut pans or muffin tins. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool.

1 cup miniature marshmallows 1/4 cup crushed graham
1/2 cup miniature chocolate

Combine above ingredients in mixing bowl. Place mixture onto each donut. Place donuts onto large roasting pan coated with oil spray. Place in pre-heated oven at 350°F for five minutes, until slightly browned.

Serves 10-12.


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