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1
The 67th Annual Latke-Hamantash Debate
The 67th Annual Latke-Hamantash Debate
::2013/12/17::
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2
The 68th Annual Latke-Hamantash Debate
The 68th Annual Latke-Hamantash Debate
::2014/11/26::
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3
The 66th Annual Latke Hamantash Debate
The 66th Annual Latke Hamantash Debate
::2013/02/20::
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4
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Austan Goolsbee Part 1)
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Austan Goolsbee Part 1)
::2009/12/05::
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5
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Libenson Intro Part 2)
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Libenson Intro Part 2)
::2009/12/05::
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6
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Austan Goolsbee Part 2)
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Austan Goolsbee Part 2)
::2009/12/05::
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7
Potato Cannon at Latke–Hamantash
Potato Cannon at Latke–Hamantash
::2014/11/26::
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8
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Elizabeth Davenport Part 1)
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Elizabeth Davenport Part 1)
::2009/12/05::
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9
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Roy Weiss Part 1)
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Roy Weiss Part 1)
::2009/12/05::
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10
A Taste of the Latke Hamantash Debate
A Taste of the Latke Hamantash Debate
::2011/12/22::
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11
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Matthew Stolper Part 1)
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Matthew Stolper Part 1)
::2009/12/05::
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12
58th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2004 (Robert Geroch Part 2)
58th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2004 (Robert Geroch Part 2)
::2009/12/13::
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13
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Gary Tubb Part 1)
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Gary Tubb Part 1)
::2009/12/05::
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14
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Daniel Libenson Intro)
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Daniel Libenson Intro)
::2009/12/05::
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15
58th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2004 (Philip Gossett Part 1)
58th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2004 (Philip Gossett Part 1)
::2009/12/13::
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16
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Matthew Stolper Part 2)
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Matthew Stolper Part 2)
::2009/12/05::
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17
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Libenson Intro Part 1)
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Libenson Intro Part 1)
::2009/12/05::
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18
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Alberto Simpser Part 1)
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Alberto Simpser Part 1)
::2009/12/05::
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19
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Thomas Ginsburg Part 2)
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Thomas Ginsburg Part 2)
::2009/12/05::
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20
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Roy Weiss Part 2)
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Roy Weiss Part 2)
::2009/12/05::
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21
59th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2005 (Jerrold Sadock Part 2)
59th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2005 (Jerrold Sadock Part 2)
::2009/12/13::
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22
Aaron Dinner 2010 Latke-Hamantash Debate at University of Chicago
Aaron Dinner 2010 Latke-Hamantash Debate at University of Chicago
::2014/11/17::
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23
59th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2005 (Eugene Kontorovich Part 2)
59th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2005 (Eugene Kontorovich Part 2)
::2009/12/13::
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24
59th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2005 (Colm O
59th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2005 (Colm O'Muircheartaigh Part 2)
::2009/12/13::
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25
58th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2004 (Menachem Brinker Part 1)
58th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2004 (Menachem Brinker Part 1)
::2009/12/13::
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26
60th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2006 (Alison Boden Part 1)
60th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2006 (Alison Boden Part 1)
::2009/12/13::
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27
57th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2003 (Albert Madansky Part 2)
57th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2003 (Albert Madansky Part 2)
::2009/12/13::
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28
58th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2004 (Philip Gossett Part 2)
58th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2004 (Philip Gossett Part 2)
::2009/12/13::
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29
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Thomas Ginsburg Part 1)
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Thomas Ginsburg Part 1)
::2009/12/05::
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30
59th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2005 (Colm O
59th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2005 (Colm O'Muircheartaigh Part 1)
::2009/12/13::
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31
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Susan Bandes Part 1)
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Susan Bandes Part 1)
::2009/12/05::
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32
60th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2006 (Alison Boden Part 3)
60th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2006 (Alison Boden Part 3)
::2009/12/13::
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33
59th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2005 (Jerrold Sadock Part 1)
59th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2005 (Jerrold Sadock Part 1)
::2009/12/13::
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34
60th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2006 (Alison Boden Part 2)
60th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2006 (Alison Boden Part 2)
::2009/12/13::
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35
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Gary Tubb Part 2)
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Gary Tubb Part 2)
::2009/12/05::
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36
58th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2004 (Robert Geroch Part 1)
58th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2004 (Robert Geroch Part 1)
::2009/12/13::
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37
59th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2005 (Eugene Kontorovich Part 1)
59th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2005 (Eugene Kontorovich Part 1)
::2009/12/13::
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38
60th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2006 (Yitzhak Melamed Part 1)
60th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2006 (Yitzhak Melamed Part 1)
::2009/12/13::
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39
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Elizabeth Davenport Part 2)
62nd University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2008 (Elizabeth Davenport Part 2)
::2009/12/05::
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40
58th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2004 (Harold Pollock Part 1)
58th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2004 (Harold Pollock Part 1)
::2009/12/13::
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41
57th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2003 (Donald Levine Part 1)
57th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2003 (Donald Levine Part 1)
::2009/12/13::
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42
57th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2003 (Mindy Schwartz)
57th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2003 (Mindy Schwartz)
::2009/12/13::
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43
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Alberto Simpser Part 2)
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Alberto Simpser Part 2)
::2009/12/05::
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44
First Annual Bard College Latke - Hamantash Debate 2011
First Annual Bard College Latke - Hamantash Debate 2011
::2011/03/13::
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45
60th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2006 (Elliot Gershon Part 1)
60th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2006 (Elliot Gershon Part 1)
::2009/12/13::
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46
58th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2004 (Menachem Brinker Part 2)
58th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2004 (Menachem Brinker Part 2)
::2009/12/13::
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47
MIT Latke-Hamentashen Debate 2008 - Hazel Sive (H2)
MIT Latke-Hamentashen Debate 2008 - Hazel Sive (H2)
::2009/02/12::
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48
57th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2003 (Albert Madansky Part 1)
57th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2003 (Albert Madansky Part 1)
::2009/12/13::
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49
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Susan Bandes Part 2)
61st University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2007 (Susan Bandes Part 2)
::2009/12/05::
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50
60th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2006 (Yitzhak Melamed Part 2)
60th University of Chicago Hillel Latke-Hamantash Debate 2006 (Yitzhak Melamed Part 2)
::2009/12/13::
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Logo from the annual debate at the University of Chicago in 2013

The Latke-Hamantash Debate is a deliberately humorous academic debate about the relative merits and meanings of these two items of Jewish cuisine. The debate originated at the University of Chicago in 1946[1] and has since been held annually. Subsequent debates have taken place at several other universities. Participants in the debate, held within the format of a symposium, have included past University of Chicago president Hanna Holborn Gray, philosopher Martha Nussbaum, former Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee, Nobel Prize winners Milton Friedman, George Stigler, and Leon M. Lederman, and essayist Allan Bloom. A compendium of the debate, which has never been won, was published in 2005.

Background and history[edit]

Latkes with sour cream
Hamantashen with milk

A latke is a kind of potato pancake traditionally eaten during the Jewish holiday of Hannukah. Fried in oil, latkes commemorate the holiday miracle in which one day’s worth of oil illuminated the temple for eight days. Hamantashen are triangular wheat-flour pastries with a sweet filling which are traditionally eaten on the holiday of Purim.

A debate on their relative merits was first held in the winter of 1946 at the University of Chicago chapter house of the Hillel Foundation, sponsored by Rabbi Maurice Pekarsky.[2] Participants in the debates have included Nobel Prize winners and MacArthur Grant Fellows.[3] After the debate, both foodstuffs are usually served at a reception afterwards, offering debaters and listeners an opportunity to evaluate primary sources.[4]

The flagship debate at the University of Chicago is now organized by the Lambda chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi.[5] The debate had been moderated by University of Chicago philosophy professor Ted Cohen for over 25 years until his death in March 2014.[6][7] Several long-standing customs are observed at the University of Chicago: the debaters must have gained a Ph.D. or an equivalent advanced degree, arguments are encouraged to made using the specific technical language of their discipline, participants must present themselves in academic regalia, and the debaters must include at least one non-Jewish individual.[8]

Commentary[edit]

The events have attracted commentary from a number of individuals. Aaron David Miller, who served as a peace negotiator between Israeli and Palestinian authorities, noted that the critical feature of the debate is that it is intractable, but that the event is "simply too important to abandon."[9] In terms of the event's original purpose at the University of Chicago, Ruth Friedman Cernea comments that scholarly life discouraged exploration of Jewish traditions and did not facilitate ethnic relationships between students and faculty. "The event provided a rare opportunity for faculty to reveal their hidden Jewish souls and poke fun at the high seriousness of everyday academic life."[4][10] Cernea notes more practically that examinations and term papers would cause stress in the student body and that the event served to help alleviate such tension toward the end of the fall.[11] She also argues that the debates reflected broad ethnic changes in the United States when they were founded, and represented gradual integration.[11]

Notable debates and arguments[edit]

The debaters represent a range of academic disciplines. Some of the entries are described below:

  • Ted Cohen concluded an analysis of how correct philosophical reasoning would lead one to the latke by explaining, "A world without hamantashen would be a wretched world. A world without hamantashen might be unbearable. But a world without latkes is unthinkable."[12]
  • Hanna Gray discusses the silence of Machiavelli on the subject; noting that "The silence of a wise man is always meaningful",[13] she comes to the conclusion that Machiavelli was Jewish, and like all wise people, for the latke.[1]
  • Isaac Abella, professor of physics, asserts that "Which is Better: the Latke or the Hamantash?" is an invalid question, since it does not exhibit the necessary property of universality, is culturally biased, implies gender specificity, exhibits geographical chauvinism and appeals to special interests.[1]
  • Michael Silverstein, professor in anthropology, linguistics, and psychology, argues that it is not mere coincidence that the English translation of the letters on the dreidl spells out T-U-M-S. He cites this as evidence that "God may play dice with the universe, but not with Mrs. Schmalowitz’s lukshen kugl, nor especially with her latkes and homntashen."[1]
  • Professor Wendy Doniger of the divinity school, in a carefully footnoted paper entitled "The Archetypal Hamentasch: A Feminist Mythology", asserts that hamentaschen are a womb equivalent, and were worshipped in early matriarchal societies.[14]
  • In the debate at MIT, Robert J. Silbey, dean of its School of Science, has cited Google, which returns 380,000 hits on a search for "latke" and only 62,000 for "hamantaschen". Silbey has also claimed that latkes, not hamentashen, are the dark matter thought to make up over 21 percent of the mass of the universe.
  • Allan Bloom noted a possible conspiracy involving the Manischewitz company and the University of Chicago Business School.[3]
  • An entry by the economist Milton Friedman discusses "The Latke and the Hamantash at the Fifty-Yard Line".[15]
  • Criminal lawyer and Professor Alan Dershowitz, during a debate at Harvard University, accused the latke of increasing the United States' dependence on oil.[16]
  • In debates concerning law, participants have quoted from the majority opinion of Justice Blackmun in the case County of Allegheny v. ACLU, which said: "It is also a custom to serve potato pancakes or other fried foods on Chanukah because the oil in which they are fried is, by tradition, a reminder of the miracle of Chanukah."[17][18] The Supreme Court has given no such recognition to the hamantash.
  • The most recent University of Chicago debate featured Chemistry professor Aaron Dinner, who argued from a standpoint of energy efficiency, that the latke is eight times more fuel efficient than the hamantash.[19][20]
  • Yiddishist and professor of computer science Raphael Finkel has pointed out that in the rabbinic literature there are extensive hallachic discussions concerning latkes but almost no mention of hamantashen.[21]
  • Because of the proximity to Passover of the date of the 2012 debate at St. Mary's College of Maryland, Professor Josh Grossman initially adopted a third side in the debate: matzo. Upon further consideration, he promptly conceded.[22]

Debates at other institutions[edit]

Latke–Hamantash Debates have been held at several other universities including:

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Shticking to Their Puns". University of Chicago Magazine 98 (2). December 2005. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  2. ^ Cernea, Ruth Fredman, ed. (2006). The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. xix-xi. ISBN 0226100235. 
  3. ^ a b Okrent, Arika (8 December 2012). "8 Great Arguments from the Latke-Hamentash Debate". Mental Floss. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Shticking to Their Puns". University of Chicago Magazine. Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  5. ^ http://chicagomaroon.com/2012/12/04/aepi-lands-great-latke-debate/
  6. ^ Cholke, Sam. "Latke or Hamantash? University of Chicago Profs Debate Superior Jewish Food". DNAInfo. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  7. ^ O'Donnell, Maureen (24 March 2014). "Ted Cohen, University of Chicago philosophy professor who took humor seriously". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  8. ^ Cernea, p. xxi.
  9. ^ Rosenberg, Yair (21 February 2013). "Judaism’s Epic Food Fight". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  10. ^ Gluck, Robert. "Latke or Hamantash? The Debate Rages On". JNS.org. Jewish and Israel News. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  11. ^ a b Lerner, Saul (Winter 2007). "The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate (review)". Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 25 (2): 221–224. doi:10.1353/sho.2007.0036. 
  12. ^ Cohen, Ted. "Excerpts from The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate". University of Chicago Press. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  13. ^ Leo Strauss, Thoughts on Machiavelli (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), p. 35
  14. ^ Cernea, p. 189.
  15. ^ Cernea, p. 71.
  16. ^ a b "Latkes vs. Hamantashen: The Promised Food". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  17. ^ Blackmun, Harry. "County of Allegheny v. ACLU 492 U.S. 573 (1989): Case". Justia US Supreme Court. Justia. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  18. ^ Wilgoren, Jodi (25 November 2005). "Such Sound and Fury! Tradition! Einsteins in Food Fight of Words". New York Times. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  19. ^ Dekhtyar, Sonya; Solomon, Lee; Libenson, Dajniel. "Age-Old Debate Confounds Experts Again at U of C Hillel’s Latke-Hamantash Debate". Jewish United Fund. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  20. ^ Abowd, Mary (14 November 2014). "68th Latke-Hamantash Debate set for Nov. 25". UChicago News (University of Chicago). Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  21. ^ http://www.cs.uky.edu/~raphael/yiddish/homent.html
  22. ^ "Adler and Rabinowitz Fight Viciously over Latke, Hamantaschen". Retrieved 2012-04-03. 
  23. ^ "Profs Face Off on Latkes Versus Hamantaschen". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  24. ^ "Prattle of the ages: Hamantasch vs. latke". Archived from the original on 15 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  25. ^ "Latke-Hamantasch Debate Becomes Verbal Food Fight". Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  26. ^ "Professors debate merits of latkes, hamantash". Retrieved 2009-02-27. 

External links[edit]

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