Whole Foods’ Confusion About Hanukkah Foods Is Embarrassing

whole foods matzoh hanukkah
This is what you eat on Hanukkah
Happy Hanukkah chosen people! As a member-by-marriage of the tribe, we've been cooking up latkes, brisket, and kugel like crazy at our house. Which means lots of grocery shopping. Which means, for me, lots of trips to Whole Foods. Just last week when I was there, I noticed a Hanukkah display that showcased boxes of matzoh. As someone who wasn't born Jewish and has simply been immersed, I thought for a moment: "Huh. Either there's something I don't know about matzoh and Hanukkah, or they're really, really early for Passover." 

It turns out someone at Whole Foods knew even less than I did about the festival of lights, and now the organic market is being accused of ignorance and insensitivity.

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A Washington Post writer teed off on her local Whole Foods for this display, even while admitting that Hanukkah is not the most important holiday on the Jewish calendar, and there are not as many Jews around as there are angry Christians who are upset about the so-called "War on Christmas." However, in my neighborhood in Los Angeles, there are like a zillion people who would be offended. Or not a zillion since there are only around 5 million in all of America. But near the Whole Foods where I shop is a huge Orthodox community. As in, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf closes on Jewish holidays, people don't drive on the sabbath, and Hebrew letters are as common on buildings as solar panels.

So clearly this was a nationwide issue, not just a clueless clerk in Foggy Bottom. Matzoh is the unleavened bread that is traditionally eaten during Passover, a nod to the hasty exodus the Jews had to make from Egypt (no time for the bread to rise). Hanukkah, on the other hand, is about the revolt by the Macabees, followed by the miracle of having enough oil for eight nights rather than one. There's a lot more to this story, but the point is -- no reference to unleavened bread/matzoh.

Even this shiksa knows that during Hanukkah the traditional foods include, but are not limited to: sufganiyot (jelly-filled donuts), latkes, kugel, brisket, and anything else you want to enjoy. I'm really surprised that no one at Whole Foods knew this. Is it only WASPy hippies that make the rules there? No offense to WASPy hippies, as I'm kind of on the edge of that category, but for a market that specializes in international cuisine, it seems like a massive oversight. And an embarrassing one, for sure. I only wonder how widespread this mistake was, since it landed right in the middle of the very Jewish neighborhood in Los Angeles.

Are they displaying matzoh as a Hanukkah food at your Whole Foods?


Image via Mike Licht, NotionsCapitol.com/Flickr

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