Sufganiyot, or: Donuts

Some years, my early December birthday
overlaps with Chanukah (don't worry about 
the English spelling - there's no right or wrong);
and this is just such a year.
My daughter immediately makes the connection,
as soon as I mention the fact. "Abba'chka,
can we have sufganiyot to celebrate
your birthday this year? Hooray, hooray, hooray, hooray!"

Sufganiyot? Sure, I figured you'd ask. Essentially,
they are donuts, fried in oil, as all 
traditional Chanukah foods are; but in Israel -
sufganiyot are a -major- 
cultural phenomenon. Every bakery strives
to outdo itself and its competitors every year
with sundry decadent, colorful sufganiyot flavors; 
they literally produce -menus-
to guide customers through shelves covered
in donut rainbows.

Throughout much of the Western world,
including the USA - where I grew up - Christmas
trees, Santa Clauses, nativity scenes are everywhere 
in the winter season; chicks, eggs, 
bunny rabbits are ubiquitous during Easter... 
Whereas here, in Israel, the world's one
Jewish state, I see 
Jewish, rather than Christian, holiday 
symbols in shop windows, lining the streets,
covering the walls of our public schools. 

Home; Israel is simply home. It's the one
place in the whole world where it's entirely
natural to be Jewish; I can appreciate this so much
because I'm intimately familiar with the diaspora.
Here, Jewish life is dynamic and
alive; vibrant and colorful -
not unlike the sufganiyot
my daughter has been salivating over
(they're already being sold, 
weeks before Chanukah begins,
but I won't tell her that).

My child does not appreciate
Israel, due, in part, to tender age
(only natural); but also perspective - 
she has nary a concept of being a religious minority 
(only natural). Of course(!) there will be sufganiyot 
at every corner during Chanukah - duh! 
She's already wondering
what new flavors they'll have this year.

"Yes, Dear, of course we will - we'll go together
to the bakery to pick some out!" And I think
to myself -once again- that -I- could have been
her if my parents 
hadn't decided to move our family
to America.

d’Verse Poetics Prompt:

‘Epiphany in the Time of Holiday’

At d’Verse, poets were invited to imagine a moment of pausing, a still point of epiphany this holiday season. You may write using any poetic form, whatever suits. What would having an epiphany during this holiday season look like for you (or someone you know or imagine)?

Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

65 thoughts on “Sufganiyot, or: Donuts”

  1. I can appreciate the disconnect myself but its good to be grounded in one’s faith and with one’s family, wherever you are. Home is family.

  2. I love your thoughtful reflections that float from sweetness to traditions, tangible and intangible! Very well done David. Your little one is just enjoying being… that is what life should be about! Those sweet donuts look wonderful… eat one for me!

  3. This reminded me so forcefully of the traditions of my childhood-Turkish diples, which seem to be similar to your sufganiyot in that they are fried dough for the winter holiday–subsumed by chocolate Santas as my immigrant mother assimilated to America. Thank you for a powerful memory.

      1. My mother’s family is ethnic Greek from Turkey; we think she was born near Smyrna, but she grew up in Istanbul. My father’s Swedish (1st generation). They don’t do fried dough, more’s the pity.

  4. You’re rebuilding from scratch, consciously and deliberately. I admire that so much more than the blind shopping and over-indulging frenzy that goes on in the ‘Christian’ countries.

  5. The photo is adorable and how you mixed melancholy and nostalgia with your daughter’s innocence also melts the heart. I understand what you say when home is a home. I live in India at the moment where Christians are minority and yes, I know what you mean. 🙂 Blessings to you.

    1. yes! you know, Rosema, it’s not at all a matter of oppression or anything like that (obviously it would be infinitely worse if it were), but it’s still a matter of living in a society that reflects your background, your calendar, your… everything… it’s just comfortable. Incomparably more comfortable to me.


  6. nary a concept

    Lol, love how this one comes out.

    I had to do a google pitstop to get the pronunciation proper in my head

    But donuts rainbows are with us all year round, summer, winter or spring, same here every aunty or delicatessen outdoing each other. I tended to go with the aunty when my kids were younger, and that is some couple of moons ago. Although the koekster- a local donut hardly known throughout the world- remains the Sundays special.


    Oh lord David that is the sweetest daddy call.

    Such a wonderful love between father and daughter

    From one of the greatest storytellers ever.

    Happy Birthday in advance

    Happy 28 November – 6 December
    In advance.

    You could’ve been her….

    1. I came up with “Abba’chka” myself. … It feels right to me.

      “Abba” is “Daddy” in Modern Hebrew – that’s mainstream here in Israel.

      The suffix “chka” comes from Russian, which we speak at home, and which I was raised speaking. It’s a diminutive suffix – so “Abba’chka” is like “little Daddy”, but it’s a name that draws from two totally different languages.


      1. Yes, i sounds so right.
        I had the feeling about the Abba part of course, and the hebrew and russian fits so sweetly together little Daddy.

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