The Latvian Latke Contest

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LATVIA

Latvia is a country located in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. It was one of the 10 countries that joined the European Union on May 1, 2004 during its largest expansion. With a population of about 2.2 million people, it is one of the least populous members of the European Union. The capital and largest city is Riga.

WARTIME LATVIA

During the 20th century, the two World Wars and the emergence of an independent Latvia led to major shifts in the ethnic composition of the country. During the first half of the century, the number of Latvians continued to rise, whereas that of other groups declined. This was often a result of emigration, but the most dramatic changes were caused by the events of World War II.

JEWISH LATVIA

The Jewish population was also a long-established minority in Latvia. They had been living in Latvia since the 16th century and by the turn of the 20th century, the Jewish population numbered more than 140.000 people (ca. 7% of Latvia's total population). At the beginning of World War II, about 100.000 Jews were living in Latvia. This article explores the Jewish history of Latvia in more detail.

JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (also known as JDC) is the world's leading Jewish humanitarian assistance organization. Headquartered in New York, the organization is non-political and describes itself as "the 9-1-1 of the Jewish world-a trusted, dependable partner and lifeline to communities in need." It sponsors and develops social and community assistance programs for Jewish people and communities in over 70 countries.

HANUKKAH

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday. It lasts for eight days and starts on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December. Originally, Hanukkah is one of the less important Jewish holidays but is has become much more popular in modern practice because of its proximity to Christmas.

LATKES

because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil, it is also a tradition to eat fried foods such as sufganiyot and latke during the holiday. "Latke" is one of the most famous of Jewish dishes. It is a type of shallow-fried potato pancake, usually consisting of grated potatoes (or other root vegetables), some type of starch (usually flour or matzoh meal), eggs, onions, and, of course, oil. The pancakes are served with applesauce and sour cream.

OTHER LINKS

The movie mentions that the children perform the play “Fiddler on the Roof”. This famous musical takes place in the Jewish village of Anatevka, in Tsarist Russia, in 1905. It centers on the character of Tevye, a poor Jewish milkman, and his daughters' marriages. Originally a Broadway musical, the 1971 film adaptation of "Fiddler on the Roof" won three Academy Awards. The title stems from the painting "The Fiddler" by Marc Chagall.

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