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Hanukkah in So Cal: Record-breaking potato pancake

December 21, 2008 | 10:54 pm

Here's something very Southern California about Hanukkah: Trying to make a world-record setting potato pancake.

Some Jewish communities throughout the Southland celebrated the first night of Hanukkah with a twist Sunday, as one group cooked a giant potato latke in a solar-paneled oven and another lighted candles atop a recycled menorah -- all part of an effort to usher in an eco-friendly Festival of Lights.

"With the new president [of the United States] coming in, the whole thing is about the environment," said Rabbi Marc Rubenstein outside Temple Isaiah of Newport Beach, where parishioners in the front yard crowded around the solar oven that was harnessing the sun's heat to cook a potato pancake, or latke, that measured about 3 feet across.

Rubenstein said he gave a sermon to the 100-family congregation Friday night that focused on the environment, with the central message that "we are our brother's keeper, and we also have to take care of the Earth."

Synagogue members hoped the latke would break a record as the world's largest cooked by a solar oven.

--Ari B. Bloomekatz