Cooking their way through the December Dilemma
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Cooking their way through the December Dilemma

Chanukah is a minor holiday that’s only big because of Christmas. If it weren’t for the mass hysteria brought on by the Santa season, Jewish children wouldn’t be clamoring so loudly for the gelt and the eight nights of presents.

And then there’s tree envy. How to beat the lure of that towering fir of tinsel and glitter — with a puny candelabra? It’s tough, especially for interfaith families who are raising Jewish children and have to deal with the December Dilemma every year.

Nicole Neroulias, writing for the Religion News Service via Huffington Post, describes non-Jewish women taking on the holidays with food.

Cooking Jewish for Chanukah is easier than Passover, one mother opines. Latkes can be a dress rehearsal for the gantze Seder.

That was before she started in with the oil:

Anne Coyle used to set the holiday table with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, but this year, she’s rolling up her sleeves in an attempt to make latkes and brisket.

Cheered on by her husband and a support group for non-Jewish women raising Jewish children, Coyle’s first stab at a traditional Hanukkah meal has a modest goal: don’t burn anything. Or anyone.

Coyle, who was raised Catholic, got some help from “The Mothers Circle Cookbook,” a compilation of Jewish recipes and holiday tips for non-Jewish women raising Jewish children recently published by the Jewish Outreach Institute. It’s available online for free download, or in hard copy.

More than 1,000 women like Coyle have taken part in Mothers Circle discussion groups since 2002. I hope they’ve all eaten as well.  

(Another resource  for interfaith families dealing with the December holidays is available online from, a nonprofit that supports intermarried families making Jewish choices.)