These days, it takes a lot more than a rousing game of spinning the dreidel or some gold foil covered chocolate coins to keep kids interested in Hanukkah. Even more to get the attention of seemingly eternally bored teenagers.
After all, an eons old story of a days worth of lamp oil lasting for over a week is no match for iPhones and Xboxes.
But cookbook author and mother of four (including two teenagers) Susie Fishbein has a secret weapon food.
Kids love to eat as much as they love to schmooze and socialize, says Fishbein, and Hanukkah is very much about its symbolic foods and traditions of hospitality.
She suggests getting your teenagers involved in choosing and preparing traditional foods. This might not only get them excited about the holiday, but also will create an opportunity to talk.
And she speaks from experience. While developing recipes for her new cookbook, Kosher by Design: Teens and 20-somethings (Artscroll/Shaar Press, 2010), Fishbein relied on her own teens and their friends to help test the recipes she was creating.
The teenagers, she points out, were at ease during these gatherings because they werent being asked to reveal anything personal, but instead just to talk about the food, which in turn allowed them to relax and be themselves. And when kids are being themselves, they tend to open up more.
In fact, Fishbein points to food and cooking as a conduit for keeping communication lines open between adults and teens all year.
In her new book, which is part of a kosher cooking series, Fishbein offers fun, accessible recipes that serve up new choices for teens who favor fast food, as well as fresh and healthful cooking projects for the teen or college student.