What is Chanukah?

Chanukah celebrates the rededication of the Jerusalem Temple following its defilement by Syrian Greeks in 164 BCE. Since then, Chanukah has become known as the Festival of Lights, due to the one day supply of oil lasting a miraculous eight days, and is known for the traditional lighting of the hanukkiah. In addition, it is customary to feast upon fried foods and foods made with oil. Since Chanukah celebrates the idea of preserving resources, Hazon offers some Healthy, Sustainable Chanukah Resources as suggestions for your Chanukah celebrations!

When is Chanukah?

Chanukah is celebrated in 2019 from sundown on Sunday, December 22, through sundown on Monday, December 30.

Activities & Rituals

Spinning the Dreidel for Chanukah Gelt

Every Chanukah, Jewish children of all ages receive chocolate gelt as a treat to enjoy during the holiday. Our consumption of chocolate gelt offers us an opportunity to learn more about chocolate, where it comes from, who helps produce it, and how choosing the type of chocolate gelt you eat during Chanukah can connect with your Jewish values.

Check out this new program for middle school and high school students

Every Hanukkah, Jewish children of all ages receive chocolate gelt as a treat to enjoy during the holiday. Our consumption of chocolate gelt offers us an opportunity to learn more about chocolate, where it comes from, who helps produce it, and how choosing the type of chocolate gelt you eat during Hanukkah can connect with your Jewish values.

As your students grapple with learning that most chocolate production includes forced child labor, they will also learn that Fair Trade designation provides a means to keep children out of chocolate production, helping to support the children, their families, and their communities to rise out of poverty.

Check out this article from Tablet Magazine – “Gelt without Guilt” describing the Fair Trade Gelt Campaign and how you can get involved.

Download the Educator’s Guide

Spinning the Dreidel for Chocolate Gelt is a partnership of Hillel at the UW, The Kavana Cooperative, and Fair Trade Judaica and was made possible by funds granted by The Covenant Foundation.

Purchase Fair Trade Hanukkah gelt for your community.

Make your own gifts.

Take a photo and create your own frame, knit a scarf or a hat, or make your own beeswax candles. Also, bake a special Chanukah dessert to give to friends and family as a more environmentally friendly gift. Read about this family’s non-materialistic guide to gift giving.

Give money for a great cause.

Instead of giving chocolate Chanukah gelt, give money to your local emergency food provider or hunger relief organization. You can support Hazon and help build a healthier and more sustainable community, by a general Hazon Donation, or you can contribute to the participants of Hazon Rides. For help finding a local emergency food provider near you, check out Ample Harvest. Another great resource for donating money as a gift is Heifer International, in support of hunger outreach programs.

8 Days of Action.

After lighting your menorah each evening, dedicate yourself to being more environmentally sustainable and enacting food justice when possible. Volunteer at your local emergency food provider one night, cook a meal for someone recovering from surgery the next night, and screen a movie relating to food justice another night.

Food & Recipes

Chanukah Recipes

Basic Latkes

  • 6 russet or 8 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 1 large yellow or sweet white onion peeled
  • 3 tablespoons flour or more
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil

Grate potatoes and onions. Mix them together. The mixture will release liquid. Dispose of as much of it as possible. (I suggest using a colander and a couple of clean dishtowels, or cheesecloth.)

Mix the eggs in a bowl with the salt and pepper.

Combine the potatoes, eggs and flour. If the mixture is still liquidy, do your best to drain it and add more flour.

Form the latkes into thick patties between your hands and squeeze any extra liquid out. This is important — the quality of latkes is entirely dependent upon technique.

Place into a pan with approximately with ¼ inch of vegetable or safflower oil and fry on high heat. Do not press the latkes down once they are in the pan. Simply flip when the bottom is golden brown. When done, place them on paper towels to drain.

Recipe originally from The Jew and the Carrot

Sweet Potato Kale Latke

  • 4 cups shredded or grated sweet potato, squeezed completely dry in a dish towel
  • 1/2 cup shredded or grated yellow onion, squeezed completely dry in a dish towel
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups potato starch
  • 1 cup finely chopped kale
  • 1 1/4 tablespoon curry powder (recipe follows)

When you finish squeezing the sweet potatoes and onions, throw them into a large mixing bowl and fluff them with your hands and spread them out. Sprinkle the potato starch, curry, and kale evenly over all of the potato mixture and gently fold together. The idea here is to get each little thread coated in the potato starch, if you need to use more, use more. Add the egg and mix well.

Heat a non-stick pan with your frying fat of choice (We use a 50/50 blend of chicken fat and clarified butter, but kosher options work as well), enough to coat the entire surface of the pan. Form your latkes, season both sides with salt, and fry to a crispy and beautiful golden brown.

For the curry powder:

  • 4 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 5 star anise pods
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 4 tablespoons ground turmeric

Toast all the spices in a dry pan over medium heat for about a minute, then grind together in a spice grinder.

Recipe originally from The Jew and the Carrot

Grandma Weiner’s Potato Latkes with House-Smoked Bluefish, Goat Yogurt, and Dill

For the Bluefish

  • 2 pounds skin-on Bluefish Boneless Filet
  • 3 Red Onions (sliced thin)
  • 1 bunch dill (rough chopped)
  • 1 bunch parsley (rough chopped)
  • 5 crushed bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup brined green peppercorns (rinsed and crushed)
  • 1 bunch thyme (rough chopped)

Place the bluefish, skin side down on top of the curing mix. Now scatter the second half of the mix on top of the bluefish. Keep refrigerated for 24 hours

Rinse the cure off the fish. Refrigerate uncovered for another 24 hours to dry the fish.

Smoke the bluefish with the apple wood chips for 2 hours at 150 degrees.

The fish should have a pleasing firmness and amber color. If it doesn’t keep smoking ‘till it does.

Refrigerate the fish immediately. After an hour coat the fish with canola oil and wrap in plastic film until ready to serve.

For the Latkes

  • 1 Small Yellow Onion (finely minced)
  • 1 ounce Duck or Chicken Fat
  • 3 Russet Potatoes (peeled)
  • 1 Egg beaten
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Potato Starch
  • Salt and White Pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces Canola Oil

Making the Latkes

On low heat, gently sauté the onion in the duck fat until the onions are translucent. Then set aside to cool. Don’t drain the fat! Meanwhile, shred the potatoes either by hand or mechanically (depending on the look you want to achieve).

In a kitchen towel or apron, thoroughly squeeze out the potatoes until they yield no water. In a mixing bowl combine the onions, potatoes, starch, eggs, salt and pepper with your hands. After all the ingredients are well incorporated, fluff up the mixture with your hands.

Heat a heavy bottomed non-reactive skillet. Add the canola oil, when it starts to shimmer, add piles of the latke mixture to the pan. When they begin to brown, flip with a spatula and gently press them down. When the other side is ready, drain them on a cookie sheet outfitted with a multiple layers of paper towels.

For the Dill Yogurt

  • 1 cup Fage Brand full fat yogurt
  • 1 cup Goat Yogurt (I use Lynnhaven — at Union Square on Wednesdays and Saturdays
  • Pinch sugar
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 oz. Tepid water

In a bowl, mix all ingredients


On 8 warm plates lay 2 pancakes on each plate.

On top of the pancakes place a few chunks of bluefish. Make sure to discard the bloodline, it can be overly fishy.

Drizzle the yogurt sauce around the plate and on the bluefish.

Garnish with some dressed frisee, microgreens, or chives.

Recipe originally from The Jew and the Carrot

Have a Latke Bar!

  • 3 cups peeled and grated Russet potatoes
  • 1 large Spanish onion-peeled and grated
  • 2 egg whites-lightly beaten
  • All-purpose flour about ¼-1/2 cup
  • Salt and pepper
  • Neutral oil for frying-about 3-4 cups (prefer canola or peanut oil)

Place the shredded potatoes in a bowl of ice cold water *(this helps keep them from turning rust colored). Let the potatoes sit for about 15 minutes.

Place a large skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat. Fill the pan with oil to a depth of about 2 inches.

Remove the potatoes from the water. Squeeze as much water as possible by wrapping the potatoes in a towel. There will about a white starchy paste at the bottom of the bowl. Scoop some of the potato starch and add it to the potatoes in a large bowl. Add the onion and eggs. Add enough matzo flour to bind the mixture but not make it too firm. Season with salt and pepper

When the oil has reached 350 degrees, scoop the latke mixture with an ice cream scoop or large spoons and gently drop into the oil. Fry until golden brown and turn to fry the other side. remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

The latkes can be made several hours before serving and can be reheated in a 400 degree oven on a sheet pan until crispy. Serve with applesauce or the following recipes.

Recipe originally from The Jew and the Carrot

Cured Salmon Remoulade

  • 2 oz cured or lightly smoked Wild salmon slices-diced small
  • 2 T. capers
  • ¼ cup chopped red onion
  • 2 T. prepared horseradish
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T. flat leaf parsley-chopped
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise dash of hot sauce (optional)

Mix all of the above ingredients in a small bowl. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Store covered in the refrigerator up to 3 days.


  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 T. capers
  • 1 clove garlic-chopped
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T. Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 2 anchovy filets (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper

Place all of the above ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is combined but still chunky. Adjust seasoning.


This delicious Middle Eastern condiment makes a great dip, crust for fish or poultry and perfect topper for the latkes.

  • 2 red peppers-roasted
  • 1 cup walnuts-toasted
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • ¼ cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs-left over challah is perfect
  • 1/3 cup Extra Virgin olive oil
  • ¼ t. chili flakes
  • 1 t. ground allspice
  • ½ t. ground cumin seed
  • Salt and pepper

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is fairly smooth. You may need to add more Extra Virgin olive oil to adjust the consistency.

Place in a container and cover the surface of the muhummarah with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. The muhummarah can be kept covered for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Apple-raisin Chutney

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 pounds tart green apples (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • 1 2-ounce piece fresh ginger, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds

Place all of the ingredients in a large saucepan and cook over medium heat until the apples are tender and the liquid has evaporated – about 45 minutes.

Sustainability Tips

Buy Fair Trade chocolate. If you still want chocolate gelt, opt for Fair Trade choices. We recommend Equal Exchange, Divine Chocolate, Mama Ganache and Sunspire. Try making your own gelt using this great Jew & the Carrot recipe!

Use local potatoes and onions. Potatoes and other root vegetables are in abundance during the winter. Stop by your local farmers market and stock up prior to making your Chanukah latkes.

Buy organic oil. Since Chanukah frequently involves oil in some form for every meal, buying organic oil ensures a more sustainable celebration.

Change up your latke. Toppings: Rather than buying a traditional brand of sour cream, stock up on an all-natural or organic sourcream. More of an applesauce fan? Make your own from apples purchased locally or buy an organic brand. Latke: You can use sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes, or carrots as an added healthy bonus to give your latkes a different taste! Learn about more changes on the traditional latke from the Jew & the Carrot!

Eat less meat. Use the festive opportunity to cut down on meat consumption and eat some of the wonderful produce that is available during the winter months.

Use environmentally sustainable candles. Beeswax, soy, and palm oil provide more natural alternatives to the traditional paraffin Chanukah candles. Check out Big Dipper Wax Works for environmentally sustainable Chanukah candles.

Reuse the Wrap. Reusable gift bags are a great way to be environmentally conscious as well as a great supplementary gift, a beautiful gift bag that the next individual can reuse! Check out Etsy for some awesome Chanukah themed reusable gift bags and wrap!

Green your Chanukah decorations. Try crafting a dreidel out of recyclable materials. Also, as a family or community activity, make your own hanukkiah using recycled materials you find around your house. Remember making an alphabet block hanukkiah as a child? Recreate the experience with your family or community, and see how creative you can make your hanukkiah! Here are some great suggestions from the Huffington Post about how to green your very own hanukkiah!

Make your Menorah more sustainable. Help reduce CO2 emissions and environmental damage through this covenant that attempts to heal the planet of the climate crisis of global scorching. Learn more about the Green Menorah Covenant Coalition. Check out Ten Thousand Villages two hanukkiyot made from recycled materials including a bicycle chain and old screws.

Save paper. Send environmentally-friendly e-cards as opposed to the traditional paper cards. Or, buy cards made from recycled paper. In addition, recycled or recyclable paper when wrapping gifts. (Newspaper is always a cool idea that is especially fun for kids!)

Cut down on waste! If you’re hosting a Chanukah party or large communal meal, use recyclable, reusable, or compostable plates and flatware. Additionally, try to use reusable table cloths and napkins. For tips on cutting back on waste, check out Chapter 3 of the Hazon Food Guide.

Shop Hazon. The Hazon Store has a variety of gifts such as sustainably made clothing.

Buy Fair Trade. Fair Trade Judaica is home to a collection of fair trade products, including: menorahs, oil, gelt, dreidels, and decorations to help enhance your celebration of Chanukah. Suggestions from Fair Trade Judaica:

Dig In

Hazon Resources

Food for Thought– A 130-page sourcebook that draws on a range of texts from within and beyond Jewish traditions to explore a range of topics relating to Jews and food.

Hazon Food Guide–  The Hazon Food Guide and Food Audit Toolkit will help you navigate food choices in your synagogue or JCC, and offer practical suggestions for bringing our ancient tradition of keeping kosher–literally, eating food that is “fit”– to bear on the range of food choices we’re making today.

Decomposition & Chanukah – This post discusses the link between Chanukah and the lessons we can learn on longevity for the products we consume.

Additional Resources

My Jewish Learning – Chanukah 101

More Jew & the Carrot articles Relating to Hanukah

Bunuelos: A Curious Christmas and Chanukah Connection

Argan Oil, A Different Chanukah Miracle

8 Chanukah Gift, Party, & Tzedakah Ideas You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

Sufganiot: The Inside Scoop

Chanukah Fry-Fest

The Donut Diaries