Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Chanukah with Erin Eisenberg

Christians aren't the only ones with a holiday to celebrate this month. The Jewish Feast of Lights starts today. I immediately thought of my friend Erin Eisenberg and asked her to explain a little about this celebration to those of us who may not know much about it. She's even sharing a family recipe! Ok, Erin, you're up!


Chanukah is an interesting time of year. To me, it's about friends and family, and not nearly as much about the gifts. In true Jewish style we try to cram all our fun into 8 nights and 8 days, instead of spreading the joy out for a month. I guess we must figure that we have the extra time, might as well use it! Of course the extra fun part is that often it's only over 1 weekend, which means really we're trying to cram all that fun into two days, this weekend being the perfect example.

I remember growing up, how I excited I was to be the one to light the candles myself. 1 candle for each night, plus 1 to light the rest. I remember my grandfather standing behind me, saying the prayers slowly enough so I could follow along. There's a certain peace that comes with the lighting the menorah. There have been years where I'll miss nights because I'm out at a holiday party and I don't get home until late. Those nights make me sad. I love the glow of the candles slowly burning down. I love even more to watch the progression from 2 lonely candles on the first night to 9 on the last. These candles, to me, ARE Chanukah. Last year, thanks to our giant snowstorm, I was able to light the candles every night...and it felt wonderful. I watched them burn from my couch, with a fire in the fireplace, and realized just how blessed I was...even if I was alone in my little apartment. This year is the first year I can light the candles in my new home, and I can't wait.

And now, recipe time! I thought about bringing a latke recipe to you all, but then I figured you can find those anywhere. But you can't get my family's special side dish just anywhere, and that's way more fun.

Farmer's Salad
1 cucumber, peeled/seeded, cut into small chunks
1 red pepper, seeded, cut into small chunks
radishes, a small handful, cut into small chunks or thin slices
1/2 red onion, cut into small chunks
cottage cheese (depending on the number of people, I use 1-16 oz container for 3-4)
sour cream or plain yogurt (about 1/3-1/2 cup per 16 oz. of cottage cheese)

Mix all together in a bowl. Serve chilled.

Note from Emily: I'm not a fan of cottage cheese, but this sounds yummy! What an interesting mix of tastes and textures.

I first met Erin when I lived in Seattle. (Giving a shout-out to my girls at Eastside RWA!) She's a saavy writer who's doing all the right things to build a platform prior to publication. I asked her to send me a bio, so you could get to know her a little too.

Bio time:
Erin Eisenberg is a third grade teacher by day, and a writer by nature. She's loved books since she was a little girl, and in fifth grade she finally realized she could be the one to write those books. She's a pre-published writer hard at work on her 7th manuscript. Most of her books are contemporary romance, though she recently tried her hand at a Young Adult. Thankfully her guy doesn't mind sharing his time with her characters.

thanks for being with us today, Erin.

Check out her blog

Happy Chanukah!

PS. Today is my regular posting day at The Chatelaines. I'm sharing 6 MORE REASONS EDITORS STOP READING. Hope to see you there!


JennJ said...

Very interesting I didn't know much about Chanukah accept about the candles and menorah!

And Emily I wanted to let you know you have a surprise over at my place. :)

EmilyBryan said...

Thanks so much, JennJ! I really appreciate the KickAss Blog award!

Erin said...

Glad you liked it JennJ :) Chanukah is a lot of fun, and can be very special.

Jane L said...

erin, Thank you for the information, I also did not know how the Chanukah was celebrated!
I love the recipe! my daughter is a vegatarian and I am always looking for great ideas! Im using this one next week!

Kristine Cayne said...

Great blog post Erin and Emily!

I'm not very familiar with Jewish customs but now at least I have a better understanding of what Chanukah is. Given the diversity of the environment we live it, any knowledge of other people's customs and cultures is a step towards peace.

Thank you for sharing. I especially enjoyed the story about your grandfather.


Erin said...

I'm glad you enjoyed Kristine and Jane. Admittedly, this is a very simplified look into Chanukah. There's much more behind it, but that can get a bit heavy. I'll likely have a post up on my own blog in the next couple of days with a little bit more.

EmilyBryan said...

Erin--Please let me know when you post more about the deeper meanings of Chanukah. As a Christian, I look on Jews as my older spiritual siblings and I'm always interested to learn more.

Kelli Estes said...

Hi Emily and Erin! Here's a question I've always wondered: What's the difference (if any) between Chanukah and Hannukah? And, can you tell us more about the gift-giving traditions involved? I know Christians view it as a representation of the gifts given to baby Jesus, but obviously that's not the case here.

This is great learning about other families' traditions and customs. I want to be able to explain different religions to my kids and holiday traditions are a great way to start.


librarypat said...

Hope you have a wonderful Holiday. How exciting to be in a new house.
When we lived in Northern Virginia near DC, my children would go to our neighbor's during the holidays and play dreidel with the children. We exchanged cookies and gifts. My kids thought eight days of getting presents would be kind of neat. Since the dad wasn't jewish, they had a Christmas/Chanukah tree set up. They learned about both holidays and celebrated Christmas when the grandparents came over.
Good luck in getting your books published.

Emily, Thanks for having an interesting guest and post.

Erin said...

Chanukah post up on my blog :) Come on by!

EmilyBryan said...

Thanks, Erin. Great post and here's a working link: