Temple Israel celebrates ‘Taste of Chanukah’

By Louise Rachlis for Temple Israel

It was a whole lotta latkes – actually 600 – given out Sunday morning, December 6, as part of Temple Israel’s “Taste of Chanukah” goody bags for members.

Assembled by Temple volunteers, the bags contained candles, dreidels and Temple member Mario Burke’s “famous” latkes. Also in the bags were shortbread cookies, a booklet with a latke recipe, activities for families to do together, the blessings over the candles for each night, and colouring pages.

“We packed 150 bags, kitchen compost bags which can be put to a second use in Jewish kitchens around Ottawa, from Orleans to Sttitsville,” said Merle Haltrecht-Matte of Temple Israel who oversaw the project. “Mario Burke stepped up as he has done in the past, and fried up and packaged 600 latkes to be included in the bags. He added a little pot of apple sauce and a little pot of sour cream to satisfy all tastes.”

A note stapled to each bag said:

Happy Chanukah

Wishing you a Happy Chanukah

From your Temple Israel family

Hope to ‘see’ you soon.

Sincerely, Margot Montgomery, Rabbi Daniel Mikelberg, Heather Cohen, Cathy Loves and Sue Potechin.

Temple Israel members were invited to pick up the Chanukah goody bags by driving up and exchanging “shalom” and “chag sameach” with Rabbi Mikelberg and the school teachers, leaders and volunteers.

This is why we do it,” said Merle Haltrecht-Matte as she read through dozens of appreciative emails. A few examples:

“Thanks so much to you and your team for the wonderful Chanukah bags. What an inspiration to start thinking about the holiday... I would like to make a donation in appreciation of all that you are doing.”

“You made lots of people happy today. Yasher Koach.”

“Thank you all for working so hard to keep the ruach of Temple alive. Your efforts are appreciated. Let’s hope for a better year in 2021.”

“Just had two latkes, I could not wait. I am saving the other two for dinner. They were delicious.”

“Thank you so much for this lovely treat and I also appreciated the candles because I don’t have to go all the way out to the Loblaws at Woodroffe to get them. A real bonus. I will try and ration the cookies. Please thank you and the committee members.”

The activity built on the success of the Rosh Hashanah festival bag. Those who were not able to drive to the Temple building because of COVID-19 restrictions on their health or lack of transportation, were invited to call and leave their name at the office so that volunteers could deliver the bags to their homes.

Haltrecht-Matte was thrilled with the feedback and the freilechkeit that came with bringing so much connection between and among congregants.

“Being apart since March has put a damper on folks, but this kind of activity is bringing joy and hope,” she said. “Drivers commented on the smiles that greeted them at the doors of many homes.”

Photo 1: (From left) Rabbi Dara Lithwick, Sue Potechin, Josh Saslove, Jenny Taroff and Eve Haras distribute “Taste of Chanukah” goody bags in the Temple Israel parking lot, December 6, 2020. (Click on photo to see full resolution.)


Photo 2: (From left) Merle Haltrecht-Matte, Patsy Royer, Rabbi Daniel Mikelberg, Shirli Penner, Linda Rossman and Miriam Burke prepare “Taste of Chanukah” goody bags at Temple Israel, December 6, 2020.