Rising to the occasion

Submitted by Judy on Mon, 12/30/2013 - 4:35pm.

In a jam? Try this recipe for Hanukkah doughnuts.

The Orange County Register/Fullerton News Tribune
November 29, 2007

by Judy Bart Kancigor

An old joke goes like this: The Jewish holidays are always either early or late. They’re never on time!

Hanukkah sneaks up on us early this year. We’ll begin lighting candles at sundown on December 4, so prepare for an oil crisis, and I’m not referring to the price of gas. Who knew when Judah Maccabee's tiny flask of oil miraculously burned for eight days that for thousands of years Jewish families would celebrate by frying!

While Jews of Eastern Europe descent eat mountains of latkes (potato pancakes), the Hanukkah treat in Israel is sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts).

Fullerton's Pnina Shichor, a former teacher and proprietor of Bound to Travel on Euclid, has been making them for years.

"When my children were young," she recalled, "my cousin, Esther Schechter, and I would do Hanukkah at Rolling Hills Elementary School. We'd tell the story, sing songs, and teach the children to make sufganiyot."

When the Shichors were considering transferring daughter Nomi to Jewish day school, Nomi said, "But, Mom, if I go there, who will do Hanukkah for our class?"

Pnina's mother-in-law, Malka Suranyi, brought the recipe from Budapest where the family survived under Nazi rule. Luckily an uncle owned an exclusive men's clothing store, which the Nazis wanted, so they kept the workers alive. After the war the Communists took over, and Pnina's husband, David, professor of criminal justice at Cal State San Bernardino, was barely 16 when the Jewish Agency smuggled him and other children out of Hungary.

"It was just like the film Exodus," said Pnina. "They were taken to a detention camp in Italy. Then 7,000 people were packed onto a boat meant for 400 and sent to Israel."

Pnina met David while in Israel for a year teaching English. "I was totally enthralled with Israel and wanted to live there," which the couple actually did for five years after they married. "That's how I got into the travel business," says Pnina. "Arranging tours to Israel became my specialty." Today 75 percent of Bound to Travel's group tours are to Israel.

Son Nadav and his family live in Modin, home of the Maccabees and site of the beginning of their revolt for freedom.

"It was customary in history," noted Pnina, "to light a torch on Hanukkah, which would start in Modin. Runners would carry it from village to village to announce the holiday." Today there are still races there at Hanukkah.

"We love spending Hanukkah in Israel,” she said. “Every holiday is so richly celebrated there. Each night you go to someone's house to light candles, sing songs, visit and of course eat!"