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‘Latkes for Love’ held at Shelter on Van Buren

For one afternoon, Shelter on Van Buren offered a unique food with which many Oxonians may not be familiar.

In an early celebration of Hanukkah (which begins December 24), the Jewish Federation of Oxford held a fundraiser called “Latkes for Love,” the centerpiece of which was the namesake latkes (pronounced LOT’-kuhs), or potato pancakes. The food is a staple of the Jewish winter holiday which lasts for eight days.

Fundraiser for ICM

Richard Gershon, the spokesperson for the Federation, says that the Jewish community in Oxford has always tried to have a party for the holiday, but it’s become easier to put together with the formation of the new organization.

“We’ve done it at the university and it was nice, but we decided to do something different this year,” Gershon said. “We’re fortunate Shelter worked with us to host the event, so we could raise money for Interfaith Compassion Ministries. We wanted to open the event for anyone who wanted to come.”

A long line formed for the Hanukkah treats which were cooked up by Dr. Roger Waxler, a professor at the University of Mississippi. Other tokens of the holiday were on hand for children including dreidels (spinning tops) and gelt (chocolate “coins” wrapped in gold foil).

Gershon added that Oxonians are frequently curious about the holiday when he tells people he doesn’t celebrate Christmas.

“Oxford is a very supportive town and people want to know more,” he said. “And for us, it’s not a major holiday or a biblical one, it just happens to be our winter holiday. It’s a holiday of freedom. Hanukkah means ‘rededication’ and in some ways, we’re rededicating the Jewish community here in Oxford.”