The Forum building housed a different kind of debate Wednesday night as Sam Richards, Penn State senior sociology lecturer, and Christian Brady, dean of Schreyer Honors College , discussed the value of latkes and hamantaschen, traditional Hanukkah foods.
In simple terms, latkes are fried potato pancakes eaten during Hanukkah while hamantaschen are triangular shaped pastries eaten during the Jewish holiday Purim.
“The Great Debate: Hanukkah Style ” was sponsored by numerous organizations including Penn State Hillel, Shreyer Honors College, and the Presidential Leadership Academy . The Penn State Jewish Studies Program and sociology department also co-sponsored in the event.
However, rather than the standard question, point, counterpoint system, this debate went in a different direction. Zach Miller (junior-musical theater), moderator and Statesmen male a capella group member, started the night with a group medley.
The Statesmen performed “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder and “Some Nights” by Fun. This was soon followed by Hall and Oates’s “You Make My Dreams” and “The Nittany Lion” fight song.
Viewers were invited to try samples of the traditional foods before choosing a side and siting in its designated section of the room. But the audience did not realize the seat arrangement until later on.
Brady, team latkes, and Richards, team hamantaschen, began with PowerPoint comedic presentations about their food and the downfalls of the alternate team.
Soon after, questions from the audience and Miller were presented to the debaters. One audience member asked which would serve as a better building material for a house.
Brady chose hamantaschen and said, “Because latkas are for eating. Hamantaschen, the only thing they are really good are for building.”
He expanded on the idea of the pastry’s triangular shape and using its filling like cement.
Another viewer asked which each food the debaters would use to make a costume. Richards then said that he would use latkas because they would stick without an additive, and if they fall off the oil would still cover if the latkas fell off.
The night ended about a half-hour earlier then expected, but audience members fully enjoyed themselves.
Students Rachel Moeser (sophomore-nutrition), Shantelle Williams (junior-integrative arts) and Annie Evans (sophomore-biology) said they came to try the different foods and found the night’s events to be very funny.