Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Latke or Hamantash?

I saw this here and enjoyed it so much, I just had to share.

From wikipedia:

The Latke-Hamantash debate is an anual humorous academic debate concerning which of the two the respective debater prefers. The debated started at the University of Chicago and has since then been held at very prestigious universities like Harvard, Brandeis, Princeton and Stanford.

I particularly enjoyed reading about the different arguments that these serious academics used:
  • Hanna Gray discusses the silence of Machiavelli on the subject; noting that "The silence of a wise man is always meaningful",[12] she comes to the conclusion that Machiavelli was Jewish, and like all wise people, for the latke.
  • Isaac Abella, professor of physics, asserts that "Which is Better: the Latke or the Hamantash?" is an invalid question, since it does not exhibit the necessary property of universality, is culturally biased, implies gender specificity, exhibits geographical chauvinism and appeals to special interests.
  • Michael Silverstein, professor in anthropology, linguistics, and psychology, argues that it is not mere coincidence that the English translation of the letters on the dreidl spells out T-U-M-S. He cites this as evidence that "God may play dice with the universe, but not with Mrs. Schmalowitz’s lukshn kugl, nor especially with her latkes and homntashen."
  • Professor Wendy Doniger of the divinity school, in a carefully footnoted paper entitled "The Archetypal Hamentasch: A Feminist Mythology", asserts that hamentaschen are a womb equivalent, and were worshipped in early matriarchal societies.
  • In the debate at MIT, Robert J. Silbey, dean of its School of Science, has cited Google, which returns 380,000 hits on a search for "latke" and only 62,000 for "hamantaschen". Silbey has also claimed that latkes, not hamentashen, are the dark matter thought to make up over 21 percent of the mass of the universe.
  • Allan Bloom posited a conspiracy theory involving Sigmund Freud and the Manischewitz company.
  • Developmental psychologist Kenneth Kaye cited Freud's most important works, Constipation and its Discontents and The Goy and the Yid in proving that a latkedikh or a hamentashenlikh personality is determined by an infant's mother's breastfeeding behavior in the first two weeks of life.[13]
  • According to literature professor Diana Henderson, "The latke is appropriate for lyric, tragic, and epic forms", but "There is very little poetry in the prune," a common hamentashen filling.
  • The physicist Leon Lederman's contribution is entitled "Paired Matter, Edible and Inedible".
  • An entry by the economist Milton Friedman discusses "The Latke and the Hamantash at the Fifty-Yard Line".
  • Criminal lawyer Professor Alan Dershowitz, during a debate at Harvard University, accused the latke of increasing the United States' dependence on oil.[2]
  • In a memorable debate in the early 1970s at the Clanton Park Synagogue Purim Party in Toronto, Canada, attorneys Aaron Weinstock and Meyer Feldman - debating in their formal legal robes and wigs - debated with much hilarity. The result was a draw.
  • When he was President of Princeton University, Harold Tafler Shapiro argued the hamentaschen's superiority by pointing out the epicurean significance of the "edible triangle" in light of the literary "Oedipal triangle."
  • In the 2010 Stanford Law School debate, Constitutional Law Professor Pam Karlan quoted from the majority opinion of Blackmun in the case County of Allegheny v. ACLU, which said: "It is also a custom to serve potato pancakes or other fried foods on Chanukah because the oil in which they are fried is, by tradition, a reminder of the miracle of Chanukah."[14] She noted that the Supreme Court has given no such recognition to the hamantash.
  • The most recent University of Chicago debate featured Chemistry professor Aaron Dinner, who argued from a standpoint of energy efficiency, pointing out the oil of the Latke must have at least eight times the energy density of traditional fuels.
Hanna Gray has stated for the record that "both the latke and hamentasch are simply wonderful. We welcome them to our diverse, pluralistic and tolerant community of scholars." She has, however, taken a stand with her statement that "Renaissance humanism grew out of the revival of the latke."
Maybe someday I'll be lucky enough to attend this debate.

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