What is a latke?
A latke is very similar to a pancake cooked in oil usually made of potatoes. Though the potato latke is a traditional Jewish food that is eaten during Chanukah, the latke did not necessary originates from the Jews. The potato latke is a cuisine that is was eaten and still eaten in Eastern Europe.
To the Jews the potato latke however represents something more than just food. The latke is eaten in religious celebration to a great miracle that occurred around 160 B.C. The celebration of this miracle is called Chanukah.
Chanukah or Hanukkah, which means the Festival of Lights, is a religious celebration that lasts eight days. According to the Jewish history and faith, around a 160 B.C. the Jews were under religious persecution and captivity to Antiochus, who was the King of Syria. During this time the Jews faced many persecutions such as they were unable to read the Torah and their holy Temple of Jerusalem was defiled by a statue of Zeus.
The Jews rose up against there enemy and after several years of fighting, Antiochus and his army was thrown out. The Jews cleaned and restored their holy temple. When the Jews were about to relight the menorah (which was a perpetual burning oil lamp in the temple), they realized that they only possessed enough oil for one day. This created a problem because to make more oil it would take at least a week.
The Jews however in their faith lit the menorah. The miracle of Chanukah is that the menorah continued burning for eight days, just enough time for the Jews to make more oil.
Returning to the subject of the latke, during Chanukah the Jews celebrate by eating foods cooked only in oil. It is not necessary for the Jew to only eat potato latkes; they may eat many other foods as long as they are cooked in oil.