Messianic Home Life

with Courtney Tinnan

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**Be on the lookout for a resident Yiddische Mama! See below! **

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T he next upcoming Jewish holiday is Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, which will be celebrated this year starting December 16, 2006. This festival celebrates the rededication of the temple after its desecration by Antiochus IV and the victory of the Maccabees.

“Maoz Tzur,” or “Rock of Ages,” is perhaps the most famous song sung during this holiday. It is traditionally sung in Ashkenazi homes after the festival candles are lit. The Hebrew text was probably written in the 13th or 14th century and the most common melody is of West European origin, most likely a German folksong that was also used in Protestant church chorales.

“Maoz Tzur” literally means “Stronghold of Rock,” an epithet for God. The English version, known as “Rock of Ages,” was written by 19th century American Jewish rabbis and leaders Marcus Jastrow and Gustav Gottheil and is based on the 19th century German version by Leopold Stein.

The original hymn contains six stanzas and recalls the many times when Jewish communities were saved by the hand of God, including the exodus from Egypt, the Babylonian captivity, the miracle of Purim, and the victory of the Maccabees at Hanukkah. Expressing Israel’s hopes for the reestablishment of the ancient Temple worship and a plea for Israel’s speedy redemption, "Maoz Tzur" is a beautiful song of praise to our God, who is faithful throughout the ages.
The following text is the common English version:

Rock of ages, let our song
Praise your saving power
You amid the raging foes
Were our sheltering tower

Furious they assailed us
But your arm availed us
And your word
Broke their sword
When our own strength failed us

Children of the wanderers
Whether free or fettered
Wake the echoes of the songs
Where you may be scattered

Yours the message cheering
That the time is nearing
Which will see all men free
Tyrants disappearing


W hile “Maoz Tzur” is the most famous Hanukkah song, one of the most famous Hanukkah dishes is potato latkes. The oil that the potatoes are fried in is reminiscent of the oil that miraculously burned in the lamp for eight days during the rededication of the temple.

The following is an easy recipe for potato latkes by Claudia Roden (found at

Serves 6

2 lbs (1 kg) potatoes
2 large eggs
Oil for frying

Peel and finely grate the potatoes. Put them straight into cold water, then drain and squeeze them as dry as you can by pressing them with your hands in a colander. This is to remove the starchy liquid, which could make the latkes soggy.

Beat the eggs lightly with salt, add to the potatoes, and stir well. Film the bottom of a frying pan with oil and heat. Take serving-spoonfuls, or as much as ¼ cup (50 ml), of the mixture and drop into the hot oil. Flatten a little, and lower the heat so that the fritters cook through evenly. When one side is brown, turn over and brown the other. Lift out and serve very hot.

[Courtney’s tip: serve with sour cream and applesauce!]

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 * * * Da Shofarr steff looks for a rresident Yiddische mama who should prrovide
rrecipes, tips for holidays, or aaaanyting else for “Messianic Home Life!” If
you or somevun you know voot be goot, ve vant you should do it - or make dem
do it!! Don't be lazy!! Give a yell to Courrtney at - a nice
Yiddische maidele and co-editorr of Da Shofarr. And don't give her no tsuris!!
Tenks a lot! * * *