Jewish Christmas Treats…wait, let me explain!

Jewish Christmas Treats.  Yes, you heard right.   You purists out there…allow me to explain.

My friend Grace grew up in Idaho* and returns home there most Christmases.  In tow are her Jewish husband and children.  This family travels to the mill town of Lewiston with a menorah, dreidel, and other holiday items when Chanukah and Christmas overlap.

Grace’s family–dyed-in-the-wool Lutherans who live on the banks of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers–look forward each year to Grace’s homecoming not only because they miss her, but also because she brings loads of Challah Connection Jewish treats with her…the kind of treats, like babkas, rugelach, black and white cookies, savory treats, chocolates, and other fun goodies–that they were first introduced to when my friend married her husband.  The older relatives love to eat cinnamon babka warmed (and with margarine, my friend tells me!) while the young kids love gelt.   No offense to the good people who run commerce in Lewiston, Idaho, but it’s just not the kind of thing my friend’s relatives are likely to find in the local stores.

It turns out that Jews are not the only ones who welcome and enjoy “Jewish” baked goods at this time of year.  With small towns becoming increasingly international, it’s a welcome change of pace for noshers to receive something tasty, outside their usual comfort zone

I find it thrilling…another example of a world where we are allowed exquisite freedom to share in each other’s rituals, each other’s customs, each other’s foods, each other’s sweet holiday delights.  It makes for a far more delicious world! 

Happy noshing, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!


*fun fact: Idaho’s Moses Alexander was the first Jewish governor in the United States

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Jogging In The Rain

It was one of those days where you’d be better off staying inside and having a nice hot cup of tea. It rained. It stopped. It rained some more. The wind blew hard. Instead of viewing the weather from the couch like most reasonable people, I decided to go jogging around the track with my friend Christine. image004 Christine was stressed. For 16 years Christine had been married to Cam, her Jewish husband. And, for the first time in all those years, her mother-in-law had agreed to come to her house to celebrate a Jewish holiday.

Granted, it was Hanukkah . I didn’t mention to Christine that Hanukkah (חנוכה‬‎) had started as a very minor holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean revolt of the Second Century BCE. To remember the fact that oil that should have only lasted one day stretched for eight days, we light the candles on the menorah each night.

I agreed that it was nice of her mother-in-law to relent and give up hosting one of the Jewish holidays. The only problem? Christine (she herself admitted) couldn’t cook to save her life.

“So,” I huffed. “What do you plan to serve?”

Wrong question. Christine sprinted on ahead on sheer adrenaline alone. I caught up with her eventually and repeated my question.

“I don’t know,” she said. “I don’t have a clue. I’ve looked through books and the only thing I see is latkes . I can’t just serve potato pancakes.”

She looked at me hopefully. “Can I?”

A gust of wind blew my wet hair right into my face. It gave me a minute to come up with a tactful answer. “Well, usually you would serve latkes and then maybe a few other things. Maybe some applesauce and some sour cream.”

“Oh, right, she usually does have that stuff. Okay, what else?”

I suggested that she might want to include a roasted chicken, maybe some brisket, some vegetables. And then there were the desserts.

“I’m scared of the desserts,” Christine said. We stopped running. Christine was gasping for breath, either from running or from contemplating Jewish desserts.

I told her there was nothing to be afraid of. There was rugelach, there were blue-and-white cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels, blue-and-white Jordan almonds, there was chocolate babka and there was dark chocolate.

Best of all, there was me , her friend, who just happened to own Challah Connection. I had her covered.

“There’s just one problem,” Christine said. “Do you have any spray that makes it smell like I baked it?”

Hmmm…that’s one for R & D.

Best wishes for good weather and good friends,



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