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Israeli Hanukkah Levivot (Potato Pancakes)

It is traditional to celebrate the miracle of the cruse of oil by eating foods fried in olive oil. One of the most familiar Hanukkah foods is the latke, or potato pancake.


Many variations of pancakes are prepared in honor of Hanukkah. Before potatoes were brought from the New World, buckwheat, rye, leeks, or cheese were the main ingredients in the pancakes. It does not really matter which ingredient is used, as long as it is fried in olive oil. Here is a delicious recipe from my family for Israeli latkes. They are best served hot, with a sprinkling of sugar or some applesauce and sour cream.


  • 5 potatoes 

  • 2 onions 

  • 3 eggs 

  • 1 tsp. salt 

  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

  • between 1/4 to 3/4 cup matzah meal

  • olive oil for frying


Step 1

Peel the potatoes and onions. Grate and place in a large bowl. 

Step 2

Add the eggs, salt, pepper, and matzah meal. Mix well.

Step 3

Heat one inch of olive oil in a large frying pan over a mediumhigh flame.

Step 4

Drop the levivot dough in by the tablespoon. When the edges brown, flip the levivot over and flatten them with the spatula. 

Step 5

Cook the levivot until they are crispy, with a goldenbrown color. 

Step 6

Place them on paper towels to blot some of the olive oil. 

Another delicious tradition was to fry dough in the hot oil. The Jews of Spain and Portugal celebrated Jewish holidays and life cycles with small doughnuts called bimuelos. They were considered so distinctively Jewish that the Inquisition posited the cooking of bimuelos to be evidence of crypto-Judaism.

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