All News & Blogs
columnist writes about sharing Hanukkah latkes with wife's relatives in Spotsylvania County
Potato latkes, such as those shown above, are a staple of the Hanukkah menu and are downright delicious when gussied up with sour cream.
Visit the Photo Place
By Kurt Rabin
AROUND this time last year
At least the fear of religion, anyway.
It was my wife's Aunt Karen calling to invite us to her family's rustic rambler in Spotsylvania County.
"Let's do Hanukkah!" she said. "I'll do the cooking if you'll teach my kids about the holiday."
Two thoughts sprang to mind. What made her think a nominal Jew like me would know anything about the Jewish holidays? And wasn't Karen--and her husband and kids, for that matter--Southern Baptist?
Hoping to discourage the idea,
"Any holiday that involves fried food is one my family can get behind," said Karen.
That's when I flashed back to the last time I had an inkling of what Judaism was all about: Hebrew school.
And the memory wasn't altogether pleasant.
I was 12 years old and living in Cherry Hill, N.J.
My Hebrew teacher, Mr. Shello, looked nothing like my dad or my friends' dads.
In fact, he didn't resemble any Jewish guy I'd ever seen, period. He was tall and fit, and wore his hair in a brush cut.
Rumor had it he'd fought in the Israeli army. Talk about some serious Jewish street cred!
But for some reason, every time Mr. Shello lent his rich baritone to those strange-sounding trills and fricatives, I'd convulse into uncontrollable laughter.
Mr. Shello would calmly banish me from class, telling me not to return until I was able to regain my composure.
Needless to say, I never learned a whole lot of Hebrew--or any other Jewish traditions--unless one considers throwing snowballs at motorists near the synagogue a rite of passage.
So, like most people in search of info on the run, I got an assist from Wikipedia.