This story originally published in the Peninsula Clarion.
Hanukkah, which began Sunday, is an eight-day event celebrating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C. when the Maccabees claimed victory over the Syrian army.
Jewish congregations across the world light candles, exchange gifts and played dreidel, which is a four-sided spinning top game to celebrate Sunday night. An important tradition of the holiday is eating fried food, which pays homage to the day’s worth of oil that miraculously kept the menorah of the Jewish Maccabees lit for eight days inside the rededicated temple.
On the central peninsula, the Briat Elohim congregation gathered at the home of members Carma and Dylan Shay, where the group sang songs, lit the first two candles of their menorahs and had a potluck-style dinner featuring kugel, a Jewish noodle dish, hummus, salads, stews and most importantly latkes. Latkes, a fried potato pancake, were the star of the show.
Nikiski resident Gary Superman was a founding member of the congregation in the early 1980s and always made the Hanukkah latkes. After Superman died in November of 2016, his daughter Sarah Superman, took over her father’s job of providing latkes for the congregation’s annual holiday. Luckily, after years of watching and helping her father through the latke process, Sarah Superman is keeping the tradition alive and making it her own.
The process, which Sarah Superman said takes about four hours, is repetitive. First, you have to peel the potatoes and onions, shred them, rinse them, and then shred and rinse them again, before preparing them to be fried in olive oil.
She said she made them Friday and froze them until they were ready for Sunday. Sarah Superman is vegan, so her recipe isn’t the same one her father used.
“I don’t use the eggs,” Sarah Superman said. “I used flaxseed eggs I make. They are a little different than my dad’s, but I do use the same amount of potatoes and onions though.”
She said she makes the flaxseed eggs by combining flax and water, which creates a gelatinous mixture that has the same binding effect as eggs.
She said latkes and the donuts her mom makes for their own Hanukkah celebration are among her favorite holiday foods. Other guests at the party agreed.
Members said they were grateful for Sarah Superman’s effort when it came to latke making.
“They are delicious,” member Margaret Shallot said. “My latke process is not as intense.”
One member of the group even admitted to making latkes using a store-bought box mixture.
The group was also divided on whether sour cream or applesauce was the best condiment to go with the potato pancake. Sarah Superman said she was team applesauce.
Shallot said she liked to make an Alaska berry sauce to top her latkes.
For Sarah Superman, the once-a-year opportunity to make latkes for her congregation brings her back to time spent with her father.
“It’s the smell,” she said. “It’s nostalgic and brings back all those memories of my dad. I love my dad and I keep making them for him.”