Our Holiday Traditions: Good food, family togetherness and generosity
The Feldman family brings their Chanukah traditions to Seattle.
PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON
Growing up in the heat of Texas, Orly Feldman never thought she would come to appreciate rainy Seattle winters. But after celebrating Chanukah in the Emerald City with her husband Matthew and three children (Ella, 6, Noah, 3, Ethan, 1 month), Orly says there’s nothing quite like getting cozy in the house with her family during the holidays. This year she’s planning to bring a little Southwestern charm to her Chanukah celebration. “I’m thinking about getting the kids monogramed Chanukah pajamas,” says Orly. “It’s a Southern tradition to print names on your children’s clothes.”
Back in New Jersey where Matthew was raised, his large extended family threw Latke Fest, a cooking competition to make the best version of the Jewish potato pancake. Today Matthew puts the latkes on a pan and cooks them outside on the grill, adding variations like celery root and sweet potato. Orly and the kids prefer dipping them in applesauce, but Matthew is a sour cream fan.
The Feldmans also enjoy jelly donuts around the holiday. Like latkes, jelly donuts are cooked in oil meant to symbolize the miracle of Chanukah. The tradition originated in Poland and migrated to Israel. In the 1920s, the Israeli Labor Federation declared jelly donuts the official food of Chanukah. While latkes are easy to make at home, jelly donuts provided Israeli laborers with jobs baking, transporting and merchandising each box of donuts. On a trip to Israel with 20 other Seattle women last year, Orly had the opportunity to try an authentic Israeli jelly donut. “I’d never tasted anything like it,” says Orly. “Truly amazing.”
Before chowing down, each family member lights his or her own special menorah. The kids enjoy setting up an electric menorah as well as cling decals on the window to share the festivities with the neighborhood. Ella, the oldest, usually helps Orly pick out a few toys at the store to donate to children who are less fortunate. “I want the kids to learn the importance of giving,” says Orly.
Silly or somber, elaborate or simple, every family creates their own unique ways of finding joy and warmth in the midst of winter. Our annual Seattle's Child tradition is to share your holiday traditions so we can celebrate and rejoice together that every family in our community is a one-of-a-kind creation forged from the past and building a brighter future for our kids.
Read about more of our family holiday traditions and holiday happenings here.