November 21, 2004

You Decide 2004: Potato pancakes vs. three cornered cookies

You Decide 2004: Potato pancakes vs. three-cornered cookies

In preparation for Chanukah, the 58th Annual Latke-Hamentash DebateĀ—the oldest debate on which of the two traditional Jewish foods is better, will be held at Mandel Hall, 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 23.

For all gentiles or goyim out there, a latke is a traditional Jewish fried potato pancake eaten during Chanukah, the Hebrew holiday celebrating the miracle of the Macabees' military victory and the rededication of the Jewish Temple. Hamentash is a three-cornered cookie with filling, eaten during Purim, symbolizing the three-cornered hat of the evil Haman, whose plot to exterminate Persian Jews and his defeat at the hands of the Biblical heroine Esther fuels the Purim story.

The symposium, which strives to connect Jewish culture with the traditional academic mentality of the University of Chicago, invites four faculty members, one of whom is not Jewish, to use their intellects to debate the merits of either opposing Jewish victuals. The Chicago debate was the first of a long string of imitation latke-hamentash debates across the nation, with debates being held at MIT, Brandeis, and Harvard.

Philosophy professor Ted Cohen has participated in the debate for 30 years as a panelist and has since become the regular moderator. This year's panelists are Chicago professors Menachem Brinker (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations), Robert Geroch (Physics), Philip Gossett (Music), and Harold Pollack (Social Service Administration).

Audience members are encouraged to support for their preferred foodstuffs by coming to the debate dressed in a latke-or-hamentash-related costume.

After the debate, spectators can attend a reception given by the Newberger Hillel Center on the University campus, located at 5715 South Woodlawn Avenue, which is also sponsoring the debate. The reception will have latkes and hamenstash. The cost for the reception is $3 in advance (by Monday, November 22) or $5 at the door.