Hot take: the most important part of Hanukkah is the food. (A controversial opinion, we’re aware.) Yes, let’s absolutely light the menorah, say the blessings, spin the dreidel and give presents. But, crucially, also give me latkes. Give me sufganiyot. Give me bimuelos, sfenj, tostones, zangula and piroshki! And if it’s made with love from a recipe passed down from generation to generation? That’s even better.
This Hanukkah, one TikToker is reminding us all of the true power of Jewish family recipes.
If you’re on the video streaming app, you might be familiar with Laura High. Laura is a comedian who has gained nearly 618K followers and over 20 million likes on TikTok for being the self-proclaimed “donor-conceived person of TikTok.” This means that Laura’s content ranges from comedy clips to talking about the ethics of the fertility industry, and most of it has a fairly upbeat tone. But a video she posted on the first night of Hanukkah started in a noticeably different way.
“I just got probably the kindest email I’ve ever received,” Laura says to the camera, not hiding the fact that she has been crying.
As Laura does in most of her videos, she adds the context that for the majority of her life she thought her sperm donor had the same Irish and Scottish background as her father. However, when she was 25, she learned that her donor was Ashkenazi Jewish. “Finding out that you were a different ethnicity than your family or you are a different ethnicity that what was listed on the donor profile is a very common thing for donor conceived people,” she explains. Adding, “And I have been trying to explore and learn more about newfound heritage and ancestry.”
Laura then reads the email she received aloud, having a visible emotional response.
“Like yourself, genetically I’m half Jewish but I grew up with the culture and the food,” the anonymous mensch wrote. “It’s the first night of Hanukkah and I feel very sad your donor’s family has refused contact with you and your siblings, mostly because it means you have no passed down Jewish recipes. If you have an interest, and you can absolutely say no, I would like to send you my mother’s latke recipe and a couple of our holiday cookie recipes.”
We’re definitely not crying right now, we just have something in our eyes!!
As Laura goes on to say, her experience of being donor-conceived has been deeply isolating. But, gestures of welcome from the Jewish community, like this one, are “a very healing and life-altering experience.”
At the end of the video, Laura excitedly accepts the emailer’s offer and just yesterday she posted a follow-up in which she makes the latkes! (In case you’re wondering, she’s an applesauce girl.)
So this holiday season, remember to treasure your passed-down Jewish recipes and to share them with family, friends and anyone looking to connect to their Jewish identity. It’ll be the most delicious mitzvah you’ll ever share.