Nov. 20, 1997
Vol. 17, No. 5

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    Is this the year?

    World-renowned scholars recruited to resolve age-old latke-hamentash debate

    By Jennifer Vanasco
    News Office

    If ever the eternal question "Which are better, latkes or hamentashen?" were to be answered, this would be the year. For the Latke-Hamentash Debate's 51st anniversary, the Newberger Hillel Center at the University of Chicago has assembled perhaps its most distinguished panel ever: Martin Marty, Sander Gilman, Martha Nussbaum and Jerrold Saddock.

    The symposium will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 25, in Mandel Hall. Over 1,000 people are expected to cheer on their favorite food -- the latke (potato pancake) or hamentash (triangular pastry).

    Marty, the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor in the Divinity School, has been called by Time magazine "the most influential interpreter of American religion." Gilman, the Henry R. Luce Professor and Chairman of Germanic Studies, is a prolific author and scholar of Jewish and German history. Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Professor in the Law School, is one of the world's leading philosophers, and Saddock, the Glen A. Lloyd Distinguished Service Professor in Linguistics, is an expert in Germanic languages and Greenlandic Eskimo. As in the past several years, the moderator will be Ted Cohen, Professor in Philosophy and noted humor scholar.

    Following the Jewish practice of mimicking teachers and spoofing rabbinical tradition during Purim, the distinguished panelists will draw upon their academic disciplines to extol the virtues of latkes or hamentashen. In the past, biologists have based their arguments on chemical content, sociologists have examined each food's effect on civilization, and economists have discussed relative value. Arguments are made using such supporting materials as slides, diagrams, song, costume, and trumpet-playing, to name a few.

    People planning to attend the debate may show their support of the latke or hamentash by buying "I love latkes" or "I love hamentashen" buttons in advance for 50 cents each or $1 each at the door. The buttons are on sale at Newberger Hillel Center, 5715 S. Woodlawn Ave., and they will be sold at Reynolds Club on Wednesday, Nov. 19.

    The symposium will be followed by homemade latkes and hamentashen served in Hutchinson Commons for $3 per person. The symposium is free and open to the public. For more information, call the Newberger Hillel Center at 752-1127.