How This Family Brings Japanese American Culture to Hanukkah

Kristin Eriko Posner embraces her heritage and blended family through her annual Hanukkah gathering.

“I wholeheartedly believe that when we adapt rituals to fit our modern lifestyles, we ensure they continue for years to come,” says Kristin Eriko Posner, founder of Nourish Co., a website that helps ethnically blended families develop modern traditions. When Kristin converted to Judaism before marrying her husband Bryan, she wanted to find ways to embrace and celebrate both their cultural backgrounds. “At the time, I wasn’t able to find much that resonated with me, and so I began writing about my own experiences,” she says.

In 2016, Kristin hosted the first of what’s now an annual Hanukkah party that her Japanese American heritage with her husband’s Jewish roots. As a guest in their home, the couple’s friends find traditional food, decor, and rituals reimagined in modern, intentional ways.

Mochi Latkes
Blaine Moats

Rethink Classic Recipes

For Kristin, that means incorporating Japanese ingredients in the Hanukkah dishes, like adding mochi (sweet rice) flour to homemade latkes and yuzu zest (a tart Asian citrus fruit) to doughnut filling. Instead of a traditional sit-down dinner, Kristin serves up a build-your-own latke bar. “I set out an array of toppings,” she says. “Some options are classic like lox and créme fraîche. Others, like matcha salt, have a Japanese tilt.” She rounds out the party buffet with a simple crudité platter and homemade spiced nuts.

Get Guests Involved

Kristin uses her party decor as an opportunity to invite her guests to participate in one of her beloved Hanukkah traditions—lighting the menorah. Before the party, she asks her friends to send a photo of something that brought light to their lives during the past year. She prints the photos and uses washi tape to create a colorful collage. Before lighting the candles, she thanks everyone for coming, recounts the story of Hanukkah, and shares what brought light to her life that year. “I have found that as the host, being the first to show vulnerability helps others open up as well,” Kristin says. “We'll then light the candles and say the blessing together. I encourage people to look at the wall and ask each other about their moments of light. This totally shifts the energy of the party.”

hanukkah items on table
Nicole Morrison

Display Ritual Items in New Ways

Kristin modernizes the family heirlooms displayed at the party by adding a handmade resin tray to her menorah and wrapping the challah in a colorful embroidered tea towel. She recently opened an online store featuring handcrafted pieces including a Japanese-inspired porcelain ritual cup, challah cover, and blush tray that can be used for Jewish rituals.

Kristin Posner

There’s magic to letting a tradition evolve so it can pick up a piece of each generation along the way.

— Kristin Posner

Keep Cocktails Easy

In keeping with a cocktail-style party, Kristin opts for just one festive sparkling wine. “It seems like such a small detail but pouring one brand of wine really pulls things together,” she says. “When people ask what they can bring, I suggest beer or another type of beverage so there’s something for everyone.”

Help Serve Others

During her party, Kristin invites her guests to take a nod from her heritage. “In Japanese culture, it’s not polite to let others pour their own drink,” she says. “I like to implement this rule, and it’s such a fun and easy way for guests to get to know and take care of each other.”

women sitting on steps
Hannah Bauhofer

It’s never too late to adapt new traditions—and Kristin encourages you to make them your own. Research your heritage or ask family members how they observe holidays and milestones. Choose the aspects of each that bring you the most joy and combine them into a new ritual. Then, invite friends and relatives over to celebrate with you in a mindful and intentional way.

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Kristin Eriko Posner

Kristin Eriko Posner, formerly known as Kristin Namimoto, is a recipe developer, writer and business owner with additional experience in interior design and party planning. She created Nourish Co. as a response to her own experiences as a Jewish Japanese-American woman. Using food to reconcile her identity within different communities, she creates fusion recipes such as braised brisket with Japanese barbeque sauce.

Kristin's lifestyle brand, Nourish Co., invites visitors to celebrate their unique heritage and rituals through hosting parties, interior design, and inspiring food. Her original recipe for mochi latkes can be read in Better Homes & Gardens, and Kristin has also written for Eat, Drink & Think, Jade Magazine, The Jerusalem Post, HeyAlma, and The San Francisco Chronicle. She is a popular spokesperson in Jewish newspapers and media.

Growing up as both Jewish and Japanese-American, Kristen struggled to feel like she fit into her hometown of Los Angeles. Her mother is Japanese and her father is Japanese-American and her roots eventually led her to move to Japan. After working in entertainment media and public relations in Japan, she became a residential interior designer based in San Francisco.

Following her experiences, Kristin eventually decided to start her own lifestyle brand that best suited her religious and ethnic identity. Nourish Co. combines her love of food, cultural identity and interior design into a single entity. Her recipes are featured in a variety of lifestyle magazines such as Better Homes & Gardens and Yes!

Kristin studied at San Diego State University and held a position as an accounts coordinator at BWR public relations. After spending some time working in Japan as an English teacher and in the field of public relations and media, she moved to San Francisco to work in interior design. Currently, she combines her knowledge of media and interior design with her personal interest in food and culture.

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