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December 18 - It's Chanukah Time

Updated: Jan 11, 2023

What's Up?

In the spirit of the season we are presenting special editions of holiday news. Here's Chanukah. (Santa will slide down your PJT chimney soon).

Hanukkah or Chanukah In Hebrew, the word Hanukkah is written חֲנֻכָּה or חֲנוּכָּה (Ḥănukā). It is most commonly transliterated to English as Hanukkah or Chanukah. Both are considered correct, though Hanukkah is the most widely used spelling, while Chanukah is more traditional. Often called the Festival of Lights, the holiday is celebrated with the lighting of the menorah, traditional foods, games and gifts."

"The eight-day Jewish celebration known as Hanukkah or Chanukah commemorates the rededication during the second century B.C. of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where according to legend Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. Hanukkah, which means “dedication” in Hebrew, begins on the 25th of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar and usually falls in November or December.

Hanukkah 2022 begins on the evening of Sunday, December 18 and ends on the evening of Monday, December 26.


A PJTime Creative Tutorial on How to Light Up YOUR Life

This simple exercise can help you Improve overall mental and physical health by releasing "positive neurochemistry" to shift negative mindsets and savor the small things that light up your life. Whether you celebrate Chanukah or not try this!

1. Find a vessel that appeals to you. Any container to hold your "light". 2. Date 8 separate slips of paper and each day write down:

  • Something kind someone has said to you - it can be as simple as a "Thank You"

  • A quote you find inspiring or meaningful

  • An event you've witnessed, experienced or heard about that is positive or inspirational

  • Memories you cherish or make you smile

  • The names of family members, friends, pets, or people who you like (love is not even the criteria)

  • An author, famous figure, colleague, you find admirable, inspiring or has done something to make this a better world.

  • The happiest moment of your day

There's no right or wrong, just as long as it's something or someone who lights up the your life

3. Sharing - Each evening, after lighting your menorah candle* read out loud (even to yourself if celebrating alone or family members) your "light" of that day. *If you don't celebrate Chanukah at the end of each day or week or special celebration. LIGHT IS NON-DENOMINATIONAL!

Benefits on mental health

Focusing on the small and large things that are easy to get buried in in the negative news cycles in the media, living in a time of pandemics, famine and war. Whether consciously aware, negativity, in all its forms can contribute to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and despair - all hallmarks of depression.


with Andrew Huberman's guidelines to improve your gut biome after you've indulged in traditional Chanukah food* . . . Oy Vei!

"We all have trillions of microorganisms living inside our gut—not just our stomach but our intesti­nes and throat and mouth, and on our skin, in our eyes and nasal passages. Maybe that sounds bad or gross, but… it turns out these microbiota are essential for our immune, brain and hormone health—in part because they make chemicals that immediately impact how the rest of our body functions, including neurotransmitters like serotonin. The bottom line is: we need to nurture these living microbiota cargo to best support our mental and physical health."

"Microbiota diversity is a measurement of the number of different species of microbiota in our gut. Low diversity is considered a marker of dysbiosis (microbial imbalance) and has been associated with autoimmune diseases, obesity and cardiometabolic conditions. Below, I summarize 6 tools that can help increase microbial diversity and improve overall gut and thereby, body and brain health."

Fermented Foods Help Your Gut

Dr. Sonnenburg discussed the findings of his recent human study, in collaboration with Dr. Chris Gardner of Stanford, in which they investigated whether diets high in plant-based fiber or fermented foods would influence the health of the gut microbiome. Their results show that fermented foods increased overall gut microbiota diversity, as well as reduced key markers of inflammation.

In the study, participants ate six servings per day of fermented foods, however, higher total amounts of ingested fermented foods did not lead to further benefits. Instead, consistently incorporate fermented foods into your daily diet to achieve better outcomes for gut microbiome health and inflammation reduction.

"Try incorporating low-sugar fermented foods into your diet, such as sauerkraut, plain yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, natto, kefir or even drinking brine. Find these products in the refrigerator section to ensure there are live active cultures. (Shelf-stable fermented foods are pasteurized, therefore, will not offer the same boost to the gut microbiome.) Also, there are cost-effective ways to make your own fermented foods, such as kombucha or sauerkraut, at home"

What About Fiber?

"In this study, a high-fiber diet did not lead to an increase in microbiota diversity. However, high-fiber diets did increase the amount of carbohydrate active enzymes which help digest fiber and could further enhance the microbiome's ability to degrade other complex carbohydrates. Additionally, some participants in the high-fiber group showed a reduction in markers of inflammation. Plant-based, high-fiber foods (i.e., vegetables, legumes, and whole grains) offer significant benefits for overall health and can help provide key nutrients for established microbiota."

Prebiotics, Probiotics and Syn?

Prebiotics: fermentable dietary fiber or microbiota-accessible carbohydrates; supplements of food for established gut microbiota

Probiotics: live bacteria or yeasts that can colonize in the gut microbiome

Synbiotics: mixtures of prebiotics and probiotics

"Augmenting the gut microbiome with low levels of prebiotics and/or probiotics while still focusing on eating whole quality foods leads to improvement in gut microbiome health."

"In cases of dysbiosis, such as after taking antibiotics, during high periods of stress, traveling or changing your diet, higher levels of prebiotics and/or probiotics can aid in recovery and replenish your gut microbiome. However, the excessive intake of probiotics has been linked to the induction of brain fog; therefore, if you experience these symptoms, you could try to reduce the level of supplements that you are ingesting."

"Since prebiotics and probiotics are considered supplements, they are not FDA-regulated products. When choosing a supplement, look for an independently validated product. Finally, the gut microbiome is uniquely personalized. Therefore, supplementation will impact individuals differently."

Straight From the Farm is Best

Foods additives are ubiquitous in processed foods. Emulsifiers, detergent-like additives, can disrupt the mucus layer of the GI tract. In animal models, emulsifiers reduce microbial diversity, induce low-grade inflammation, and cause an increase in body fat, higher blood sugar levels and insulin resistance - key markers of metabolic syndrome.

The typical Western Diet (i.e., high fat, low fiber, higher in processed foods) does not provide gut microbiota with many of the key essential nutrients. When you eat complex, plant-based fiber, the gut microbiota produces fermentation by-products, such as short-chain fatty acids (e.g., butyrate). These substances reduce inflammation, help maintain the gut's mucosal barrier, regulate the immune system, and modulate metabolism along the GI tract. To enhance the health of your gut microbiome, prioritize a diet rich in whole foods, plant-based fiber, and fermented foods.

FYI - Use Real Sugar- only 49 Calories per Tablespoon

"Clinical studies have yet to fully tease apart the impact (if any) that artificial sweeteners have on the gut microbiome. However, within animal models, there is evidence that artificial sweeteners can disrupt the gut microbiome. A recent study showed that neuropod cells in the gut can discriminate between natural and artificial sweeteners. Further, these cells send a unique pattern of signals to the brain, depending on whether the sugars they sense are nutritive (i.e., contain calories) or are non-caloric sweeteners.z'

*"Non-caloric plant based sweeteners like stevia are probably fine, but there have not been many studies of stevia in regards to the microbiome." Keep it Not Too Clean!

"Microbiota are present on any and all surfaces which have come into contact with the environment. Dr. Sonnenburg notes, "Exposure to microbes from the environment is likely an important part of educating our immune systems and keeping everything in the proper balance." The gut microbiome is also populated from social interactions, including skin contact by shaking hands, hugging, kissing etc. and interactions with pets and dirt, and grass. Over-sanitization of our environments or excessive use of antibiotics can eliminate sources of good gut microbiota. While it is still important to eliminate the introduction of disease-causing pathogens and harmful environmental chemicals (e.g., pesticides), consider that many environmental microbes play an integral role in the establishment and maintenance of a healthy gut microbiome." Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., is a neuroscientist and tenured Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine.


to know about *Traditional Chanukah foods* . . . Oy Vei

"A typical Chanukah menu sounds as though it were planned by the under twelve crowd— potato pancakes, fried, of course, in lots of oil. Sweet cream cheese rugelach. Strawberry-jam-filled doughnuts (sufganiyot), covered in powdered sugar. Fried apple fritters. Cheese-filled doughnuts fried in oil and dipped in honey. Cheese blintzes." "Is it all just a ploy to keep kids lingering around the candles and enjoying a family meal? Not at all! Chanukah food traditions have their origins in the first years that the holiday was celebrated, and are meant to remind us of certain miracles associated with the events of Chanukah itself. And of course, remembering the miracles and the freedom that we're all celebrating adds a special flavor to everything we serve."

Why do Jews eat fried foods during Chanukah?

"Most of us are familiar with the miracle of the oil— that one day's supply of oil lasted for eight days. And we know this is the origin of the mitzvah to light the menorah for eight days. It is also the reason why we have the custom of eating foods cooked in oil."

"There are deeper connections between olive oil and Chanukah."

"Mystically, both the menorah and the oil used to light it are associated with Chochmah, wisdom. The war between the Greeks and the Jews was also a war over whose wisdom would endure. The Greeks wanted everyone under their rule to think and study exactly as they did. They were violently opposed to the idea of G‑dly wisdom, and so forbade the study of Torah."

"Also, the word shemen, Hebrew for oil, contains the same letters as shemoneh, eight, the number of days that the miracle of the oil lasted." Read more? Click here: Chabad Chanukah recipes and traditions.


We believe in equal equal opportunity so here's a recipe from to compliment Melted SnowMen Truffles on December 1st PJTime

How to Make Chanukah OREO Cookie Balls which are NOT tradition . . .


1 pkg. (8 oz.) brick cream cheese, softened 42 OREO Cookies, finely crushed (about 3-1/2 cups), divided 1 pkg. (12 oz.) white melting chocolate*, melted Blue Sprinkles


  1. Mix cream cheese and cookie crumbs until blended.

  2. Put your chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and melt chocolate in the microwave by cooking about 15 seconds at a time, removing from microwave, stirring, and microwaving another 15 seconds. Repeat this until your chocolate is completely melted and smooth. (You can also melt your chocolate in a pot on the stove.)

  3. Shape mixture into 48 (1-inch) balls. Freeze 10 min. Dip balls in melted chocolate; place in single layer in shallow waxed paper-lined pan. While the melted chocolate is still soft, sprinkle with your favorite holiday sprinkles.

  4. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

*You can also use semi-sweet or milk chocolate baking chocolate if you prefer a different kind of chocolate.

Recipe adapted via Snack Works

TIP: To easily coat your OREO cookie balls with the melted chocolate, add the cold cookie balls, one at a time, to the bowl of melted chocolate. Use 2 forks to roll the cookie balls in chocolate until evenly coated. Remove balls with forks, letting excess chocolate drip back into the bowl and place the coated balls onto your prepared pan. Don’t forget to refrigerate the balls until firm.

You could fry them!

Have Oreo Cookie Balls with a glass of milk. You'll have to decide if it's kosher!


When my brother and I were growing up Chanukah was simple: Eight evenings of saying prayers while lighting a candle and getting 8 small presents each night. The present part, I suspect, was so we didn't feel left out of our Christian peer groups. Today there are decorations, and Chanukah "trees", designer menorahs, parties and expensive presents . . . besides the latkes. Judy

Eight Ways tor a stress free Chanukah If you've followed us for any length of time you know we focus on mind-body-spirit well being. In that spirit we offer these suggestions so your Chanukah "spirit" isn't overwhelmed:

1. Give thanks for cleaning up candle wax and not pine tree needles.

2. Get "lit" before you light menorah candles

3. Stay in a 5-star hotel for 8 days and nights.

4. Use credit cards instead of gelt

5. Instead of gambling with a dreidle at home go to Vegas where the odds of are higher

6. Don’t give presents, do good deeds

7. Go to bed on Thanksgiving and wake up on New Years.

8. Bake potatoes instead of grating them to death

9. Eat macaroons with Ben & Jerry


Happy Chanukah & Sanity to all our Friends! You can wish someone a happy Hanukkah by saying chag sameach, which is pronounced [ khag sah–meh-ahkh ]. This expression means “happy holiday


Copyright © 2022, Peggy Arndt and Judy Westerfield, All rights reserved.

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