On Saturday October, 27th, eleven innocent lives were taken in my city, Pittsburgh, PA, in the biggest Jewish hate crime ever to happen in the United States. This horrible, senseless tragedy has caused many Jewish people to fear simply exercising the First Amendment right of practicing their religion. Helping all Jews know that they are accepted and loved is very important after this recent event. I talked to some of the members of the Hillel Jewish University Center at the University of Pittsburgh and put together some of their favorite traditional Jewish dessert recipes. These 10 recipes are Jewish classics and should get more credit for how delicious and easy they are to make! Make these to put a huge smile on any of your Jewish friends' faces and to show them your love and support.

1. Hamantaschen

Hamantaschen are cute little pastry triangles with a filled center. They are inspired by the Jewish holiday of Purim, which celebrates the triumph of Esther over Haman - who intended to destroy the Jewish people. The pastry can be filled with anything from jam or chocolate to even something savory like cheese. These would be something that could easily by experimented with to create an extremely unique product. The traditional filling is poppy seeds, which is representative of what Esther ate in the King's palace. The shape of the cookie is said to represent the hat that Haman wore, hence the three corners. There are also some other musings as to where the shape originated - so much history behind a tiny little treat!

2. Latkes with Homemade Applesauce 

This Hanukkah classic is delicious at any time of year. The homemade applesauce that accompanies it especially makes it comforting and yummy. One of the great things about this sweet and savory dish is that the latkes can be cooked in a variety of different ways, such as by baking, deep-frying, or pan-frying. Another plus of this dish is that it is a great option for people with food restrictions (gluten free, vegetarian, etc), as it can easily be made to suit a special diet.

3. Challah

If you have never had challah, you must try it. This traditional Jewish leavened bread is absolutely delicious and makes a beautiful centerpiece as well. Challah is typically eaten on Sabbath or other ceremonial occasions and is another food that has a rich Jewish history. The name originates from the commandment ‘Hafrashat Challah,’ which commands that 1/10 of the dough be set aside for an offering to the ‘Kohen’ or priest. Who would've thought that something so simple and delicious could have stemmed from such rich and fascinating history?

4. Date coconut rolls

This dessert consists of only three simple ingredients: dates, almonds, and shredded coconut. It is a great option to offer vegans or to serve just as a healthier dessert that does not lack great flavor. It is also incredibly easy to prepare due to the simple ingredients and steps (they basically just get dropped in the food processor and rolled into balls). This inherently vegan, Jewish treat is a symbolic part of the Rosh Hashanah celebration. This dessert has been made for thousands of years and has its roots in Israel and other Middle Eastern countries. Many other things can be added to this simple recipe to spice it up, such as cinnamon, orange zest, raisins, pistachios, and so much more. Traditional or spiced up - this dessert is healthy and tasty.

5. Chocolate-Covered Matzo 

Matzo is an unleavened Jewish flatbread that is usually left plain but can easily be transformed into a divine dessert with the addition of chocolate. Matzo is traditionally made for the Passover celebration but can be enjoyed during any time of the year. The simplicity of matzo itself leads to making chocolate-covered matzo an extremely simple and easy process. This is also a recipe that anyone could easily put their own spin on, adding whatever creative toppings they desire.

6. Bagels

Who doesn’t love a nice, warm bagel with any toppings they desire? Savory, sweet, healthy, or not, bagels are a super versatile base that can be enjoyed in so many different ways. And, they are not even that difficult to make at home! All bagels we know today actually have Jewish roots in Poland. During those times, bagels were said to represent the eternal cycle of life because they're circular and have no end and no beginning. They were also said to protect against demons and bring good luck! What more could you ask for?

7. Chocolate Babka

Babka is another delicious bread that would make a beautiful centerpiece. With it’s beautifully twisted appearance and swirled inside, it’s almost too beautiful to eat. The taste is a perfect combination of light and dense dough, with smooth chocolate and cinnamon bits running throughout - a perfect pairing with tea or coffee. The word "babka" actually means “little grandmother” in Yiddish, which makes sense since it originated from grandmothers twisting challah dough scraps with fruit and nuts to form another loaf - how cool is that? When Eastern European Jews brought this classic bread to New York, they started adding in chocolate and other flavors forming the more popular and delicious form of babka we know and love today.

8. Halvah

Halvah squares are a delicious sweet treat made out of three simple ingredients: honey, tahini, and nuts. This ancient candy bar has just the perfect amount of sweetness and perfectly compliments any desired additional flavors. This dessert has its roots in the Eastern Mediterranean area and became popular in Israel and, thus, in the Jewish community. To this day, Halvah is still commonly served as a breakfast item in Israeli Hotels.

9. Apple Cake 

This dense and delicious cake is filled with sweet caramelized apples and is the perfect recipe to make to take advantage of the seasonal fruit. This cake is a Hanukkah and Rosh Hashanah favorite among the Jewish community and is specifically very popular in the U.S. East Coast region. And, this cake is inherently dairy free, so it is perfect for anyone with a dairy allergy to enjoy!

10. Jelly doughnuts 

Who doesn’t love a nice powdered sugar-covered jelly doughnut? This delicious classic also happens to be a popular Hanukkah staple as well. They were brought by Polish Jews to Israel and immediately gained popularity because of how delicious they are. Hanukkah is a celebration of oil lasting for 8 days, so what better way to celebrate oil than with fried dough balls? The traditional name for the jelly doughnut “Sufganiyot” has now been adapted by many other cultures and can be found in many Jewish and non-Jewish bakeries alike, as everyone enjoys this traditional, scrumptious treat.