Latke or Hamantash: Which is better for the environment?

Nov. 25 debate at Mandel Hall to feature interdisciplinary panel of UChicago scholars

The Latke-Hamantash Debate has been a cherished tradition since 1946, rigorously questioning the merits of the festive foodstuffs of Hanukkah and Purim.

This year, members of the University of Chicago community will argue for the superiority of potato pancakes versus cookies—this time, with a focus on our planet. The question at hand: Which can best benefit our biosphere?

The Nov. 25 event, hosted by the University of Chicago Hillel, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Mandel Hall. This year’s presenters include Assoc. Prof. Marc Berman, a psychologist who has studied the effects of trees on a person’s health and happiness; Jessica Kirzane, who teaches courses on Yiddish language, literature and culture; and Raymond Lodato, who teaches courses on environmental policy and urban sustainability. Lect. Ben Callard will moderate the debate after serving as a presenter last year.

“Jewish tradition includes tomes about our obligations to the environment and our connection to the natural world,” said Anna Levin Rosen, rabbi and executive director of UChicago Hillel. “While humorous in nature, the debate and this year’s theme is connected to our sense of responsibility for the generations that come after us as well.”

For the past 73 years, the Latke-Hamantash Debate has reveled in ornate silliness while featuring prominent faculty, Nobel laureates and UChicago presidents. The tongue-in-cheek proceedings have inspired similar debates across the country, and even a book published by the University of Chicago Press.

Doors open to the public at 7 p.m. The event is free to UChicago students, but registration is recommended. Tickets for other members of the UChicago community and the general public will cost $18, and registration is recommended. A post-event reception in the Reynolds Club, complete with latkes and hamantashen, will cost $5 to attend.