This summer, a friend gave me a copy of Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook. Organized by holiday, the cookbook is a fantastic guide for anyone preparing a Jewish holiday meal. At JOI, we know, of course, that today’s Jewish community includes individuals who are not Jewish themselves – yet who prepare Jewish meals for their families. It can be a challenging experience, so we were excited to read an article by Joan Nathan in which she recognized the important role of people of other backgrounds in the Jewish holiday kitchen.
Just before Rosh Hashanah, she wrote in Tablet Magazine:
Learning about food traditions is a major challenge in every mixed marriage, but perhaps more so when one partner is Jewish and the other must learn from scratch how to navigate both kashrut and the culinary customs that characterize the cycle of holidays that kicks off anew next week, with Rosh Hashanah.
The article recounts the holiday cooking experiences of Jews-by-choice and those married to Jewish individuals and how they learned to navigate the rich and diverse food traditions of the Jewish people. Colleen Fain, a convert to Judaism who Nathan interviewed for the article, explains that those new to Jewish cooking should ask for help. She says, “The best thing to do is to ask friends and relatives for recipes and don’t be afraid to try them.”
Participants in JOI’s Mothers Circle program for women of other backgrounds raising Jewish children agree that reaching out to friends and family (and tried and true Jewish cookbooks) are the ways to go when preparing a Jewish holiday meal. To help make Jewish cooking easier for others with similar family structures they have shared their experiences and insights in The Mothers Circle Cookbook, an exciting new compilation of Jewish recipes that will be released later this fall. For more information about the cookbook and how to sponsor a dedication, please click on the link above or contact me at LOffenbach@JOI.org.
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