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4 Hanukkah recipes from across Asia that meld local cultures with Diaspora traditions



TAIPEI (JTA) — Asian-Jewish cuisine is a complex tapestry.

Jewish communities have existed across Asia for longer than many might assume, especially near major historical trade routes in places such as India, Singapore and Indonesia. Other communities developed during and after World War II. Some were part of or assimilated into local cultures, while others blended culinary traditions from other lands with the cuisines of their new homes.

So what do Jews in various parts of Asia eat on Hanukkah? Jews hailing from India, Singapore, Indonesia and Japan spoke to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about some of their go-to holiday recipes.

Jeremy Freeman’s negi latkes use a type of onion native to China and grown across East Asia. (Jeremy Freeman)

Tokyo, Japan: Negi latkes

Before moving to Japan with his wife, Maiko, five years ago, Jeremy Freeman was selling vintage Jamaican records in New York City. In fact, Maiko was the one with the restaurant  — Oni Sauce, a Japanese home-style food stand in Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg market.

But when the two made the move to Tokyo with their kids, they decided to switch it up. Freeman’s Jewish background takes the stage at their Tokyo restaurant, Freeman’s Shokudo — specifically, the smoky side: Freeman’s specializes in smoked fish and meats with a rotating seasonal menu. They often dabble in Japanese-Jewish fusion, with offerings like the bialy (made on request by a local Japanese bakery) with whitefish salad made from smoked saba (mackerel), smoked daikon pickles and tobiko, or flying fish roe.

On Hanukkah, Freeman whips up these potato latkes made with negi, a type of onion native to China and grown across East Asia, that falls somewhere between a scallion and a leek. Negi has a stronger flavor than white onions typically used in latkes, and they also produce a lot less water, creating a batter that’s cleaner and easier to work with. At Freeman’s Shokudo, they’re topped with creme fraiche, tobiko, and ikura or salmon roe. 



2 large potatoes

2 negis (Japanese leeks)

2 eggs

1/2 cup matzah meal


Ikura (salmon roe)


Sour cream


Grate potatoes with the large hole side of a box grater. Use your hands to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 
Chop negi into thin slices as you would with scallion. Mix with potatoes and add the two eggs (beaten) and matzah meal. Season with salt and black pepper. 
Heat skillet or cast iron pan with safflower oil. Add a drop of the potato mixture to test oil temperature. When it sizzles, the oil is ready. In batches, so as to not crowd the pan, add potato mixture in a thin layer for pancakes about the size of a palm. When browned on one side, flip the pancake. Make sure the pan does not get too hot. 
To serve, add a dollop of sourcream and top with ikura and tobiko and a sprig of dill.

Rosita Goldstein says Indonesian and Jewish cooking go hand in hand. (Rosita Goldstein)

Singapore/Indonesia: Deep-fried corn fritters 

Rosita Goldstein’s Saturday morning Shabbat meals have become something of a local legend among Singapore’s Jewish community. Twice a month for a decade, she hosted anywhere from 30 to 100 community members at her home, where she prepared abundant spreads of Jewish and Indonesian classics now memorialized in a cookbook.

Goldstein, who is originally from Indonesia and converted to Judaism after meeting her husband, Harvey, in Singapore, says culinary traditions from Indonesia meld easily with kashrut, or Jewish culinary rules. 

“A lot of recipes don’t use pork,” she said. “And then second of all, in the Jewish tradition, we don’t mix meat and dairy, and it’s very easy, because in most of Indonesian food, we use coconut milk.”

Life is a little slower now for the Goldsteins, who recently moved to Virginia and hope to split their time between the United States and Singapore. On Hanukkah, these deep-fried Indonesian corn fritters, served best with sour cream and sweet chili sauce, are a family favorite. In Indonesia, they’re a popular street food, but they are also a nod to the Hanukkah custom of frying in lots of oil.



2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup thinly sliced spring onion

1/4 cup chopped celery leaves

1 large egg

1 cup water 

Oil, enough to deep fry the corn fritters.

White ground pepper, and salt to taste.


In a mixing bowl, mix the ingredients together until the flour, baking soda, garlic powder, white pepper, salt, egg and water are all well combined. 
Add the corn kernels, spring onions, and celery. Mix it well. 
Heat the oil in the pan. Using a spoon or small ladle, spoon portions of batter into the hot oil and fry. . Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook both sides of the corn fritters until golden brown. 
Serve with sour cream and sweet chili sauce. 

Esther David serves her vegetable patties with coriander chutney on Hanukkah. (Esther David)

Gujarat, India: Vegetable patties with coriander chutney

According to legend, the Bene Israel trace their beginnings in India to a shipwreck on the country’s west coast over 2,000 years ago. When British rule began in 1858, they came to Gujarat, a state on the coast and embraced local life there while maintaining their Jewish identity, leading to the formation of unique customs and culinary traditions.

Esther David is a Bene Israel Jew who grew up in Gujarat and writes about the Jewish Indian experience in her novels. Her most recent book, “Bene Appetit,” recounts the diverse traditions and cuisines of India’s five Jewish groups — traditions she says are quickly being forgotten due to modernization and immigration.

At Hanukkah, fried vegetable patties or fritters are traditional, usually served alongside carrot halva. David likes to serve the fritters with coriander chutney.


Vegetable patty ingredients

6 potatoes

½ cup green peas

¼ teaspoon red chili powder

½ teaspoon cumin powder

1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves

Salt to taste

Eggs, breadcrumbs, flour and oil for frying


Peel potatoes and shell green peas. Cook both until soft. 
Mash the potatoes and combine with peas. Add red chili powder, cumin powder, coriander leaves and salt to taste. Mix with oiled hands. Divide the mixture into equal portions and shape into round patties. (Optional: add 1 small grated carrot to the mixture of potatoes and peas.)
In another bowl, whisk eggs until frothy and dip each patty in the egg mixture. Then roll in a platter of flour and breadcrumbs and cover on both sides. 
Heat oil in a pan and fry patties on both sides until golden brown. Drain and serve hot. 

Coriander chutney ingredients

1 small bunch fresh coriander leaves

10 leaves fresh mint

1 medium green chili

½ cup grated coconut

¼ teaspoon sugar



Clean and finely chop the coriander, mint leaves and green chili. Mix with the grated coconut, sugar and salt. Process in a mixer and serve with the patties.

Brod goreng means “fried bread” in Indonesian. (Screenshot from YouTube/Beqs Kitchen)

North Sulawesi, Indonesia: Brod Goreng

The Jewish community in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, might be one of the smallest in all of Asia. Made up mostly of descendants of Dutch Jews who came to Indonesia with the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century, the population has declined over time as Jews have attempted to assimilate amid an environment that is not always welcoming to them. In 2013, a historical Dutch synagogue in Surabaya, on the island of Java, was demolished by a real estate developer following protests by Islamic groups.

Yaakov Baruch, the rabbi for North Sulawesi’s community, is a descendant of both Dutch Jews and Holocaust survivors. He shared a recipe for brod goreng, a sweet fried bread for Hanukkah.

A Dutch-Indonesian culinary creation, brod goreng was only eaten in areas where Dutch Jews were living, Baruch said. “The Jews combined the culinary [traditions] between European and local Indonesian food, since this food is closer with sufgiyanot,” he said. “So the Jews in this country always prepare this ‘brod goreng’ next to our Menorah during Hanukkah.”



250g flour

1 egg

5 tbsp sugar (you can add more if you like it sweet)

1 tsp yeast

2 tbsp butter


Oil for frying


Beat sugar, eggs, butter until slightly white. Add flour & yeast, then add water little by little while stirring, until there are no lumps. Leave it for about 30 minutes, covered with a napkin. 
Heat enough oil to submerge the portions. Before frying, stir the mixture for a while, then use a tablespoon to spoon pieces one by one into the cooking oil. They will be sticky when taking them off of the spoon. Fry until golden brown. (Optional: serve with powdered sugar.)

The post 4 Hanukkah recipes from across Asia that meld local cultures with Diaspora traditions appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.

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Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary



By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)

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Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station



This is a developing story.

(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.

An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.

Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.

The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.

The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to  transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.

Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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