Nov. 16, 2006
Vol. 26 No. 5

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    Employing disciplines, scholars to debate values of latkes, hamantashen

    By Julia Morse
    News Office

    Latke or hamantash?

    Some of the University’s great minds will come together again this year to ponder that age-old question, debating over the values of latkes, the potato pancakes traditionally eaten during the celebration of Hanukkah, and hamantashen, sweet pastries enjoyed during the Purim holiday.

    The 60th annual Latke-Hamantash Debate will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Mandel Hall, 5706 S. University Ave. The debate is free and open to the public. Tickets to the reception, where latkes and hamantashen will be served following the event, will be sold at the door for $5 each.

    Debaters this year will be Alison Boden, Dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel; Elliot Gershon, Professor of Psychiatry in the Pritzker School of Medicine; and Yitzhak Melamed, Assistant Professor in Philosophy.

    “This is just going to be a great laugh,” Boden said. “The academics involved will be employing the language of our disciplines to create a fun, light-hearted spoof of academic seriousness.”

    Boden said she will preach a sermon on the Book of Esther in support of the hamantash. “I’m really looking forward to getting together for a great laugh, enjoying the experience and having a lot of fun with it,” she said. “It is wonderfully ridiculous at heart.”

    Returning as moderator for the Latke-Hamantash Debate is Ted Cohen, Professor in Philosophy and the College. Cohen noted that although this year is the University’s 60th debate held on campus, two additional debates have taken place in New York. He also mentioned that last year, the University Press published The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate. Written by Ruth Fredman Cernea, the book is a collection of the annual debate’s most memorable faculty speeches.

    Cohen authored the foreword of the book, which also features Latke and Hamantash arguments made by Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, the Paul Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Economics; Supreme Court scholar Geoffrey Stone, the Harry Kalven Jr. Distinguished Service Professor in the Law School; Hanna Gray, President Emerita and the Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emerita in History; and international religious studies expert Wendy Doniger, the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor in the Divinity School.

    All proceeds from the book go to the Johanna and Herman H. Newberger Hillel Center, which sponsors the annual event on campus.

    Additional information is available at http://www.uchicagohillel.org. Guests are encouraged to represent their opinion in the debate by wearing latke- or hamantash- themed attire.