Holiday food traditions are a lot like snowflakes: No two are the same, but they're often drawn from a similar water source.

Such is the case with sufganiyot, the jelly- or custard-filled Hanukkah donuts that celebrate the miracle of oil. Similar to Polish Paczki, they're more of a tradition in Israel than in America — but you can still find them, or a sufficient stand-in, throughout the region.

For those who need a quick recap, "There's a tradition of eating foods fried in oil at Hanukkah because of the Hanukkah story of the miraculous oil that lasted for eight nights," said Rabbi Rachel Barenblat of Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams, Mass.

Latkes, the traditional Jewish potato pancake everyone loves, are also fried in oil. "For American Jews, latkes have as much, if not more, significance, but in Israel, sufganiyah are hugely important," said Rabbi Jodie Gordon of Hevreh in Great Barrington, Mass.

Israel is having a big "foodie" moment, Gordon said. During the Hanukkah season, Israeli bakeries pull out all the stops, making sufganiyot with all kinds of fillings — jelly, custard, peanut butter and chocolate creams, and so on — as well as plain, sugared donuts that come with a small syringe of filling so you can inject your own.

Anna Gershenson, host of "The Natural Cook," syndicated on many local TV channels and YouTube, confirms this (she asked an Israeli friend of her daughter's).

"Pastry chefs today really go out of their way to create something exquisite, elaborate and striking," she said.

Gershenson, who is Latvian, did not grow up eating sufganiyot — but her family's latke tradition veers to the sweeter side, made with finely grated potatoes (rather than the conventional American shredded potato method) and topped with cinnamon and coarse sugar.

A long-time caterer, Gershenson said she's made conventional latkes for party hors d'oeuvres, but sticks to the family recipe for holidays. "I'm not saying I don't like the other ones — these are a tradition in my family," she said.

Another friend of Gershenson's daughter, visiting for the holidays, described to Gershenson her own Hungarian-rooted mother's sufganiyot recipe: a raised dough, with milk as a base, and butter, egg, oil and cognac. The cognac is supposed to keep the oil from soaking into the sufganiyot during frying. "Of course, the best-tasting sufganiyot are when they just come out of the hot oil," Gershenson said.

Making sufganiyot at home "is always a fun activity," said Gordon. She recalled a member of her congregation who made successful sufganiyot in a Ziplock bag, with ingredients shaken together into a dough and then fried. "You just have to be willing to have that much hot oil in your house," she said.

Sufganiyot can be hard to find sometimes, but not impossible. Haven Cafe in Lenox has made them; Gordon calls Home Sweet Home Donut Shoppe in Great Barrington every year and orders 300 for her congregation.

And there's always the classic American spin: "For my Hebrew school classes, I usually get regular old jelly doughnuts from Dunkin' Donuts, although theirs are baked and not fried," said Barenblat.

Gordon confirms this: "Most of us have the association that if you go to your synagogue, you're likely to see Dunkin' Donuts jelly Munchkins," she said.