Mele Kalikimakanukkah (Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukkah)

Everybody gets to celebrate today. Hallelujah!

My family is spending this Christmas morning delivering holiday meals for Lanakila Pacific’s Meals on Wheels program. Our Synagogue organizes an annual group of volunteers and we joined the team three years ago. We have made it a family tradition ever since.

And tonight we will celebrate the sixth night of Chanukkah with a holiday meal shared among friends at our home. I got up early to make chocolate fudge dreidles with the mold we got as a gift from my younger sister, boo. We’ll make brownies later with the other molds  she sent. Of course we will make latkes too.

Whenever I cook for the Jewish holidays it makes me think of my mom, especially when I make chopped liver. It was her specialty. She used a hand grinder to combine the liver and eggs and onions. When food processors debuted she continued to grind it by hand,  insisting that the new contraption made the liver to mushy. She put it in a circle mold and served it with mini pieces of rye bread. My dad loved it.

My mom made chopped liver for every holiday and I always helped her. Using a special meat grinder attachment to her Betty Crocker mixer, she would grind the liver and the eggs and the onions separately and mix them all together for the perfect blend and consistency. I remember one year she had me separate the egg yolks from the whites and we ground those separately so that when we combined it all together it wouldn’t be too “Yolky.”

I started making it about ten years ago for celebrations at our home in Hawaii. It connected us to her, living so far away, as she shared her recipe and techniques. It evoked vivid memories of childhood that I could share with my daughter. And now it brings wonderful memories of my mom (may she rest in peace) and makes me miss her very much.

The first time I made it, she sent me a meat grinder she  used post Betty Crocker mixer. I still use it every year. I’m willing to use a food processor for the potatoes for the latkes, but in honor of Gloria, not for the liver.

The biggest obstacles have been the shmaltz (chicken fat) and the liver. You can’t buy shmaltz in Hawaii. One year she came to visit around Chanukkah time and brought a small cooler on the plane with a jar of schmaltz just for me. Talk about the love of a Jewish Mother!

Since then, I have alternately made my own or just used Crisco.

My mom always swore that calf’s liver was the best choice for chopped liver. I have looked island wide for years, never found any and had to let chicken livers suffice. I ordered them fresh from Tamura Super Market in Wai’anae and they turned out just fine. This year I found calf liver in the commissary. Oh Happy Day.

On this Christmas day, I will grind the liver and eggs and onions as my mother has done before me.  We will fry latkes as Jews around the world have done for ages. We will start a new tradition of making chocolate dreidles for dessert.

And on this sixth night of Chanukkah, we will embrace our holiday traditions as we light the candles, say the blessings, share a meal and honor all of the miracles that people celebrate this season.

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MIL
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 23:26:10

    Lorrie, another tear jerker for me. I am sorry I am missing this holiday party. I read the blog to Harold so we both enjoyed it.
    As we discussed the blog and it’s contents, Harold commented how lucky David is. I agree.
    Love, Barbara

    Reply

  2. lauriehanan
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 01:47:12

    Happy Hanukkah!

    Reply

  3. Shari Danzig Stein
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 20:01:10

    So nice that you’re keeping such meaningful traditions or,. actually, bringing them to your home in Hawaii. And, what memories you bring back for me with the grinder. I now vividly recall my mom’s meat grinder, a stand alone. She used it mostly to grind her own meat for hamburgers–I never knew what a gourmet treat our everyday burger was! I imagine she used it for chopped liver too, but I am most impressed with your mom’s insistence on putting the yolk and egg white in separately–that’s a gourmet Jewish cook!
    Happy Hanukkah!

    Reply

  4. marilynmendoza
    Dec 27, 2011 @ 21:50:09

    Thank you for your intersting blog. I am rediscovering my Jewish roots and just ate latkes and played Klezmer music this year. If I might ask which Shool do you attend. I am looking for a place where I can feel at home. I am aching for a place where there is a spiritual beauty and the people are welcoming. It seems you have found that place here in Hawaii. I went to Minnesota where my daughter lives and found a place like that but I live here and want to continue my quest for my Jewish roots. Mele Hanuukah Marilyn Maya

    Reply

    • Being Jewish in Hawaii
      Dec 28, 2011 @ 02:02:25

      Hi Marilyn,
      We attend Temple Emanu-El in Honolulu and Aloha Jewish Chapel on Pearl Harbor. We enjoy both. Temple Emanu-El is a Reform Synagogue and has a Religious School where our children attend. There are also Sof Maarav which is a Conervative congregation and Chabbad. Both are in Honolulu. I hope this helps.

      Reply

  5. Nina Badzin
    Dec 28, 2011 @ 01:29:18

    So interesting! ALL OF IT–the whole blog. So you glad you commented on my Hanukkah post so that I can find you. I always love hearing about people living a jewish life—especially when it involves obstacles like schmaltz! 😉

    Reply

    • Being Jewish in Hawaii
      Dec 28, 2011 @ 01:56:04

      Mahalo and welcome. I was thrilled to find the whole Hanukkah Hooplah gang and enjoyed reading your blog among them. I am happy to find a new community of bloggers to enjoy, you among them. Hope you are enjoying the last night. And as we say in Hawaii, “Shaloha.”

      Reply

  6. Nina Badzin
    Dec 28, 2011 @ 01:29:42

    Are you on Twitter?

    Reply

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