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Merrick Hanukkah celebration features latke fry-off, songs

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On Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016, the second night of Hanukkah, the Chabad of Merrick-Bellmore-Wantagh hosted its 10th annual menorah parade and lighting at the Maimonides Educational Center in Merrick.There was a latke-making competiton, a menorah riding atop a red 1966 Pontiac GTO and a preschoolers' rendition of "I'm a Little Latke" -- to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot." Credit: Jeff Bachner

The second night of Hanukkah kicked off in Merrick Sunday afternoon with a latke-making competition, a menorah perched on top of a classic red Pontiac GTO and a preschoolers’ rendition of “I’m a Little Latke” — to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot.”

The Chabad of Merrick-Bellmore-Wantagh hosted its 10th annual menorah parade and candlelighting at the Maimonides Educational Center in Merrick.

More than 100 people celebrated the festival of lights, with children painting dreidels, making sand art menorahs and icing doughnuts as their parents snapped pictures.

Chanie Kramer, who helps run the Chabad center alongside her husband, Rabbi Shimon Kramer, said it’s important for families to come together for Hanukkah to teach children about the holiday and make them “feel proud of their heritage.”

Bonnie Alvo-Korman, 48, of Seaford, brought her daughter, 9-year-old Haleigh Korman, to the event. Most of Haleigh’s classmates are not Jewish, her mother said.

“She wants what they have and what they’re doing,” Alvo-Korman said. “I’m trying to teach her our customs and our ways.”

Westbury resident Barry Rosen, 70, was wearing a blue menorah sweater — purchased by his wife at the Broadway Mall — as he entertained his four grandchildren amid the latke competition.

“We decided that since you could have an ugly Christmas sweater, you can have an ugly Hanukkah sweater,” Rosen said with a laugh.

Merrick residents Carol Siegel, 55, and her daughter, Jodie, 22, won the latke contest using Carol’s grandmother’s recipe. Her secret? Sprinkling salt on top of the latkes while they’re cooking in the frying pan.

“If you over-salt the batter, it’s not good,” Carol said. “It’s all cooked with love.”

One of the other competitors, Willi Miller, 72, of Merrick, also learned her latke recipe from her grandmother. When she was asked to provide a recipe, “I said, ‘I don’t have a recipe.’ And I’ve been doing this probably 65 years.”

As the families around her devoured her potato pancakes, Miller, wearing a gray and yellow apron, said the trick is “practice, lots of practice. I think I could do it in my sleep.”

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