Health Minister cautions against eating too many Chanukah donuts

Eating oily donuts and pancakes is a Chanukah tradition, but Israel’s health minister is urging the public not to over-indulge in these unhealthy foods.

Health Minister Yaakov Litzman has urged Israelis to avoid eating too many sufganiyot, or jelly doughnuts, that are customarily eaten over the holiday of Chanukah.

“It’s possible to find substitutes for everything today, and there is no need to stuff our children with sufganiyot, which don’t meet the standards of proper health and nutrition,” the minister said while speaking at a health conference in Herzliya on Sunday night.  

Litzman stressed, however, that he was not calling for a complete abstention from consuming sufganiyot.

“Obviously we can eat them, since they are part of our tradition, but there are better substitutes,” he noted. “(But) I call on the public to avoid eating donuts, which are full of oil.” 

Oil played a significant role in the Chanukah story, in which a small jug of oil miraculously provided enough fuel for the Temple Menorah to burn for eight full days. In commemoration of this miracle, Jews traditionally eat oily foods on Chanukah, a custom dating back more than a thousand years.

Potato latkes (pancakes) fried in oil also became popular on Chanukah for this reason.

The health minister also repeated his advice given earlier this year, calling upon Israelis to boycott McDonald’s. Litzman had said that McDonald’s “is out” because “there is no need to eat junk food, not in our country.”

“When I said that we should cut down on McDonald’s, they thought I’d gone crazy,” Litzman said at the conference. “If I would have said it today, I would have said, ‘sufganiyot – out!’”

By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News