Deni Avdija shares Hanukkah traditions with teammates, local community

WASHINGTON — While Deni Avdija admitted on Friday it is difficult for him to be so far away from his family and friends back in Israel during Hanukkah, he has found some comfort in celebrating the annual Jewish holiday with his Wizards teammates and at a recent community event in Maryland.

Avdija, 20, has become an ambassador of Israeli culture as the only current NBA player from the country. In celebration of Hanukkah, he recently had his teammates try latkes, a traditional dish that is essentially a potato pancake. The Wizards’ culinary staff worked some of them up for the players to try and, according to Avdija, a few of them were big fans.

“Oh hell yeah. Everybody tried them, Some that tried them, four or five, they took four or five. I only stick with one because I’m trying to be on my diet,” Avdija said.

Avdija said he believes sharing Israeli and Jewish culture with his teammates is “important” to him. His teammate Daniel Gafford, for instance, said he had never heard of latkes. Gafford grew up in Arkansas before living in Chicago and now Washington during his NBA career.

Gafford wasn’t sure of the name when he described the dish to members of the media.

“I think it was a dish that they eat on Hanukkah, I believe. I forgot what it was. It was like a hash brown cake or something like that. He was trying…

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