Walt Disney World Elevates Hanukkah’s Status This Year With A ‘Holiday Kitchen’

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For the first time ever, Hanukkah is getting some serious love at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, with a new booth dedicated to holiday treats. Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center International Festival of Holidays is celebrating Hanukkah with specialty foods and a signature cocktail.

People wrote that the eight-night Jewish festival called the Festival of Lights, which started on Sunday at sundown, has brought a new food booth to the park called the L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen. The booth, whose name translates to the phrase “to life” in English, features traditional and Jewish deli foods from around the world.

“The L’Chaim! food booth offers a selection of New York-style eats, including pastrami on rye, a potato knish, chicken and matzo ball soup, and a black and white cookie. Egg creams, Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Lager and a ‘blue Cosmo cocktail’ are all on the menu as well.”

The L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen also features the traditional Hanukkah treat latkes, or potato pancakes, which are served with applesauce and/or sour cream.

Elsewhere in EPCOT, there are performers telling the story of Hanukkah, which commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and sharing the holiday’s traditions from around the world.

People added that the Jewish holiday is also being celebrated at the American Adventure section of EPCOT.

“Perhaps the biggest surprise is the inclusion of ‘Hevenu Shalom Alechem’ (‘Peace to You’) sung entirely in Hebrew by the Liberty Singers at The American Adventure. The a cappella group has been performing a Hanukkah medley for years along with a wide range of Christmas songs.”

The Holiday Kitchen at EPCOT will continue through the end of December.

On the other hand, the Jerusalem Post wrote that the L’Chaim Holiday Kitchen has its critics, as much of the food has nothing to do with the holiday. The publication cited Mic writer Aly Walansky, who noted that the food is not Kosher, meaning that at least a percentage of Jewish people can’t eat it.

“Why have a Jewish kitchen when many Jews, arguably a big part of the target audience for this pop-up, won’t be able to eat the food?”

Another writer, The Forward’s Valerie Berman, called it “a shallow caricature of Jewish cuisine,” per the Jerusalem Post.

A Disney spokesperson released a statement in reference to the question about the food not being kosher.

“[L’Chaim! kitchen] draws inspiration from traditional Jewish dishes and that all of our festival food and beverage items are prepared in a shared kitchen space and due to those operational needs, we are unable to meet kosher guidelines.”