How Labor Zionists Turned Central European Jelly Doughnuts into Israeli Hanukkah Fare

While for American Jews the latke (potato pancake) is the dish most associated with Hanukkah, in Israel it is the sufganiyah, or jelly doughnut. But—contrary to popular belief—the latter as much of the former has its origins in Ashkenazi cuisine. Jam-filled pastries, writes the great Jewish food writer Gil Marks first originated in Germany, whence they spread eastward (2010):

Poles named jelly doughnuts pączki (flower buds). Polish Jews fried these doughnuts in schmaltz or oil instead of lard and called them ponchiks. In certain areas of Poland, they became the favorite Hanukkah dessert. . . . Polish-Jewish immigrants brought ponchiks to Israel, along with the custom of eating them on Hanukkah. In Israel, however, ponchiks soon took the name sufganiyah (plural, sufganiyot), from a “spongy dough” mentioned in the Talmud, [called] sofgan or sfogga.

In the late 1920s, the Histadrut, the Zionist labor federation, decided to champion the less widespread jelly doughnut as a Hanukkah treat rather than l’vivot (latkes), because latkes were relatively easy and homemade, while sufganiyot were rather difficult for most home cooks, thereby providing work (preparing, transporting, and selling the doughnuts) for its members. Companies began turning out the doughnuts days or even weeks before Hanukkah, stretching both the amount of work and the period of enjoyment for eating them, although there are those who insist on waiting to eat one until after lighting the first candle. Sufganiyot subsequently emerged as by far the most popular Israeli Hanukkah food.

In 2009, about 18 million sufganiyot were consumed in the weeks before and during the holiday, or about three doughnuts per Israeli, with the with the Israeli Defense Force alone purchasing around a half million that year.

Read more at Leite’s Culinaria

More about: Hanukkah, Histadrut, Jewish food, Labor Zionism

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy