We’ve gotten our hands dirty making pickles. We’ve pounded sauerkraut like bubbes from the Lower East Side. We’ve planted herbs in havdallah gardens and we’ve learned amazing new braids for our challah, which we’ve leavened with natural sourdough. The DIY food movement has taken hold of the Jewish community — and it’s logical that after the vegetable growing and the bread baking that our thoughts turn to meat.
Ironically, though the DIY movement may be fueling interest in kosher slaughter, though, it’s not something you can read about on an urban homesteader blog and try in your backyard. The laws of shechita (kosher slaughter) are carefully guarded, and one must undergo rigorous training to become a shochet (a ritual slaughterer), at least according to orthodox standards. That said, there is still an opportunity for hands-on learning, and communities across the country have been gathering at farms and community centers to watch kosher shechita and in some cases, pluck a feather or two. The experiences are profound, and participants often have the opportunity to wrestle with important issues of meat eating, kashrut and Jewish tradition as a whole.
Mother’s Day may be a holiday that was made up by Hallmark, but it’s also one well worth celebrating.
There’s perhaps no stronger stereotype of a Jewish mother than one who feeds her kindele well: She makes matzo ball soup and roasted chicken for dinner — and sends her children home with Tupperware containers filled with leftovers. So this Mother’s Day, we recommend treating her to a meal of dishes that come from a less familiar Jewish community whether its from Iraq, Persia, or one of London’s hottest restaurants. Mom might just be so in love with the “new” Jewish dishes that she’ll want to borrow the cookbook, which would conveniently make a perfect mother’s day present. Here are our recommendations of this spring’s crop of Jewish food books, just in time for the day that honors the Yiddishe mama.
Since I started working on “The Sacred Table: Creating a Jewish Food Ethic” over a year ago, I have noticed something interesting about people’s reaction to this anthology which explores the Reform Jewish approach to food and food production. Upon viewing the wide range of topics discussed in the book (essays subjects range from ritual laws to environmental challenges to worker’s rights, to name a few) many people read “The Sacred Table” as an affirmation of the values they already uphold. I find this fascinating, as I intended this volume to challenge the Jewish world to stretch their approach to food and to increase their passion for ritual and ethical kashrut.
In some ways, the book becomes a Rorschach test for how individuals define their personal kashrut (think: Jewish way of eating). So, as I meet readers, people will proudly exclaim remarks like: “About time the Reform Movement teaches our people to keep kosher!” or “I love your eco-book!” After a lecture, one reader even proudly told me that she planned to read only the chapters that apply to her. Yikes! The purpose of the anthology is to explore the challenges of navigating personal and communal food choices — all Jewish aspects of eating and food production. It is not a book about one value.