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When is Hanukkah 2022?
Hanukkah begins the evening of Sunday, December 18th at sundown and ends the evening of Monday, December 26th, the dates of Hanukkah change ever year but typically fall in November or December.

Please share the history of Hanukkah?
Hanukkah is an eight day holiday that commemorates the recovery of Jerusalem and rededication of the Holy temple during the second century BC. The Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. Hanukkah is also called “the festival of lights” in reference to the miracle of long-burning oil. With only enough oil left to light the temple for one night, it miraculously burned for a full eight nights. This makes Hanukkah both a historical observance as well as a spiritually significant one. Today we celebrate that miracle of oil by lighting the candles of a candelabra with nine branches, known as a menorah. The one branch that is typically placed above or below other candles is called the shammash (Hebrew for helper). Every night, one additional candle is lit by the shammash until all eight candles are lit together on the final night. Oily foods such as sufganiyot (Hebrew for doughnuts ) and latkes (Hebrew for potato pancakes) are eaten in memory of that miracle. Like all Jewish holidays, the celebration begins at sundown. It’s then that the Hanukkah candles are lit—and they typically remain lit until they are naturally extinguished, rather than being blown out.

Eating fried foods:
Because of the miracle that happened with the oil, we celebrate by eating foods cooked in oil. Latkes and sufganiyot are the two most common foods eaten during Hanukkah. Latkes and sufganiyot can be altered to accommodate food allergies and intolerances. For example, ingredients such as gluten free flour and low sugar or sugar free jelly or preserves can be easily substituted. To avoid frying foods in oil altogether; using an air fryer is a great way to eliminate deep frying. In addition you can save time by purchasing ready made or frozen mashed potatoes, frozen potatoes, or even frozen shredded potatoes. Some of our favorite latkes are made with sweet potatoes, zucchini, squash, and carrots.

Cynthia, How do you celebrate Hanukkah? This is a special time when our family and friends celebrate together. We have made it a tradition in our family to provide for the less fortunate. Every night after lighting the candles our kids would each receive a gift. When they were young, before the holiday started, we had them donate eight of their toys to our local homeless shelter. This always gave them a sense of pride that they were able to help children in our community. My family and I love to cook together during this time of the year. Some of our favorite dishes are potato latkes, sufganiyot, edible dreidels (four-sided spinning top) and matzah ball soup. We also enjoy playing the dreidel game with Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins).

Alyssa – What are some customs associated with Hanukkah?Hanukkah is a festive holiday. In our family we enjoy a hearty meal including the same foods Cynthia references above. In addition there are songs, games, and gifts to give and receive. One game that we play is Dreidel which is played with (Hanukkah gelt), in the form of chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil. The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top (Hebrew sevivon). On each side of the top is a Hebrew letter, which forms the initials of the words in the phrase nes gadol haya sham, meaning “a great miracle happened there.” In modern Israel the letters of the dreidel were changed to reflect the translation “a great miracle happened here.”

Recommendations for RDN and NDTR for their diverse Jewish Community

It is important to be diverse in all religions to better understand your patients and possible food restrictions and modifications. Meal planning and food preferences vary amongst the Jewish Community and when it comes to food it’s not a one size fits all approach. The term Kosher defines what a Jewish person is allowed to eat, how they prepare certain foods, and what foods cab be combined with other foods. A kosher diet offers variety and nutritional balance.While plant-based foods are acceptable in their purest forms, some processing methods and added ingredients can deem them not Kosher so checking for Kosher certification is important. If you encounter a request for Kosher food or meals; take the time to ask questions. Determine if the patient has any additional requests for observing Shabbat or if they will be observing a Jewish holiday that requires food restrictions such as Passover or Yom Kippur. Not all Jewish people keep Kosher, and Kosher foods aren’t just for Jewish people. Many consumers purchase Kosher products for other reasons including gluten-free or just because Kosher foods are seen as high quality.




Hanukkah foods:

Cynthia Wigutow MS, RDN, CSO, LDN, FAND is a registered and licensed dietitian with over twenty-six years of experience. She obtained her Bachelors of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and her Masters Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Florida International University. She is currently the Director of Medical Education at Entrinsic Bioscience, LLC, makers of Enterade, an Oncology supportive care product. She has obtained her certificate of training in Integrative and Functional Nutrition, is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Cynthia has been featured in multiple media segments, is a Past President for the Florida Academy of Nutrition, Emerging Leader (Broward County Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) and was awarded for being a Kids Eat Right Dietitian. Cynthia maintains active affiliations including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Oncology Dietetic and Dietitian in Integrative Medicine Practice Groups. Her continued goal is to help make a difference in the health and well-being of her patients by using the most innovative and cutting edge treatments available.

Alyssa Greenstein, RD, LD/N, FAND is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 27 years of experience. Alyssa is a graduate of Florida State University, past president of the Florida Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (FAND), Dietitian of the Year – (FAND) and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), Mentor of the Year (FAND), Dietetic Internship Preceptor, Student Mentor, holds certifications in adult and child weight management and is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Alyssa maintains active affiliations including the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Culinary Professionals, Nutrition Entrepreneurs, and Nutrition Communication dietetic practice groups. Alyssa has been featured in hundreds of communication outlets including live and virtual media segments, presentations, online tutorials, webinars, journal articles, and blogs. Alyssa has specialized in communication and marketing for almost 15 years. As a nutrition communication and food marketing consultant Alyssa works directly with National and International Food Industry Organizations as a Science-Based nutrition spokesperson and subject matter expert communicating scientifically sound nutrition information and creating content for health professionals, consumers and others concerned about fostering a healthier society. She is a champion for sustainability, farming and agriculture and is a passionate foodie. In her spare time she loves spending time cooking and laughing with her family and loves to swim with her
Image of Cynthia and Alyssa in a kitchen holding a sheet pan with food                  Cynthia and Alyssa standing next to each other