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Merry Christmas from Israel!


I’m a big Christmas fan — I love Christmas carols and twinkly store windows and holiday movies (ever seeĀ The Bishop’s Wife, with Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven?). It’s a beautiful holiday, and I always feel a bit of a pang this time of year.

I’d love to share the day with you, but all I can offer from this distance is a picture of some sufganiyot, which are the big Chanuka food here in Israel. (Holidays for us are all about the food.) Sufganiyot are not diaspora fare; I’d never heard of them until I came to Israel. A sufganiya is basically an extreme jelly doughnut: if it’s made right, it’s loaded with oozy, purply-red jam and covered with sugar. There are upscale variants — chocolate and pistachio, dulce de leche, and so on — but a true sufganiya contains your basic tooth-endangering, sickly sweet jam. The filling is concentrated in a large blob in the middle to ensure a healthy dollop down the wrist when the mother lode is struck.

Sufganiyot are what you eat for dessert after you’ve downed a few platefuls of levivot (potato pancakes) with a nice side of sour cream or apple sauce. Levivot and sufganiyot are Chanuka foods because they’re both prepared in lots of oil. (Think Maccabees and the miracle of the oil that lasted eight days.)

I raise my sufganiya to you, my friends, and wish you the merriest of all Christmases and a fabulous 2012, full of health, happiness, and encouraging election results!