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Sephardic Traditions



What is happening on the 7th night?
In a Holiday story filled with male heroes, the seventh night of Hanukkah has traditionally been reserved in Sephardic tradition to celebrate women and girls. In some Sephardic communities, the seventh night of Hanukkah is called Chag Habanot (Festival of the Daughters). On this night, women would come to the synagogue, touch the Torah, pray for the health of their daughters, and celebrate. It is traditionally a time to give gifts to brides and daughters and to pass down inheritances.

One brave Jewish heroine that is often celebrated on this day is Judith, whose story is retold in the Book of Judith. Often depicted on medieval menorahs, Judith is one of the most well known Jewish heroines, and sometimes represents the heroism of women throughout Jewish history. It is traditional to eat dairy foods in honor of Judith, like sambusak, a savory pie with origins in Persia.

Sambusak B-Jibbin (Cheese Sambusak)
Adapted from Mrs. Lamaan Heardoon

For the dough:

  • 3 1/3 cups of unbleached flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons quick-acting dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup warm water

In a bowl, place the water, yeast, and sugar. Mix well, then let rest for 15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, and knead the dough. Cover the bowl with a clean towel, and place in warm spot. Allow the dough to rise for 3 hours.

For the filling:

  • 1 cup grated feta, kashkaval, kasseri, or parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • ground white pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs
  • Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.


  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Pull off a walnut-sized piece of dough. Roll it out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface.
  • Place a teaspoon of filling at the center of the rolled-out dough.
  • Fold the dough over into the shape of a half moon. Pinch the edges shut.
  • Place on a cookie sheet covered with a piece of parchment paper. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden-brown