Thursday, December 9, 2010


Chanukah may be over but the memories of latkes and doughnuts linger on. One of my foreign students and I were having a discussion about Yiddish this week and some of its perceived foibles. Then he asked me, "What's the Yiddish word for doughnut?" Okay, searched my memory and the best I could come up with was "doughnut" said with a decided Yiddish accent. Later on my mother informed me that she had never seen that item we refer to in the US as a doughnut until she immigrated here. Having no referent for it, she called it by its English name. My student, from Antwerp, remembers hearing the word "pontchkes" referring to small balls of fried dough--neither doughnut nor Israeli sufganiyot. And is sufganiyah truly a Hebrew word or did it, too, get borrowed from elsewhere?

Oh come on, admit it, you are now dying to know just where that word came from and why we call those jelly doughnuts sufganiyot. For a discussion on the origin, please go to

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't care how interesting the history of the word is or isn't----just please don't offer me any more of those horrible jelly doughnuts anymore! I can't stand them! I can't figure out why anyone would think that some over fried dough with a speck of jelly in it is something to salivate over. Yeah, I know about the connection to oil on Chanukah, but latkes should take care of that with no need for the doughy gook.