A Few Vintage Ideas for Chanukah

Posted on December 22nd, 2014 by

Many cookbooks, in the past and today, contain more than just recipes.  These books can be considered part of the “conduct book” market, which developed in the US in the 1830s and has been going strong ever since.  Etiquette guides, housekeeping instructions, party planning suggestions: all these works aim to help you succeed at home, at work, and in society.

A comprehensive cookbook, then, may contain measurement equivalents, technique hints, or canning instructions, as well as advice on cooking for invalids, planning a week of menus, or setting a table.  Useful stuff! Conspicuously absent from mainstream cookbooks, however, is anything related to maintaining a Jewish kitchen.  For example – while it is informative in many ways – Miss Leslie’s New Cookery Book (1857) includes nothing on traditional foods for the High Holy Days, or the rules of Kosher cooking.

Thus was born the Jewish cookbook.  Like most advice books, these guides wanted to help you improve your life, and be the best American you could be … and, in this case, to do both while maintaining, refining, and expressing your Jewish identity. The first American Jewish cookbook was published in 1871, and it was soon followed by many, many more.  Here’s the title page from our copy of “Aunt Babette’s” Cook Book, first published in 1889:

“Aunt Babette’s” Cook Book JMM 1999.065.001

“Aunt Babette’s” Cook Book JMM 1999.065.001

Today we may be just as likely to get our expert cooking, deportment, and decorating advice from a website as we are from a book or magazine, but we still seek expert guidance on questions as simple as how to make the perfect latke, and as complicated as how to celebrate the holidays in modern America. Check out “Celebrate the Authentic Way” and last week’s Jewish Times cover story!

…All of this is simply my attempt at a scholarly justification for looking through our cookbook collection in search of Chanukah menus and decorating advice.  Many, if not most, of the early books focus only on Passover, but by the 1940s Chanukah has entered the mix.  In his 1941 book The Jewish Woman and Her Home (available in our library), Hyman E. Goldin notes that “today, especially in America, [Hanukkah] is gradually becoming a community festival, “ reflecting the holiday’s growing popularity.  Goldin also says “Hanukkah is marked by no special feasting.”  However, in the same year, the popular Jewish Home Beautiful book (also available in our library) was more than happy to provide recipes and decorating ideas for the holiday, including “potato lotkes,” “snow balls or heizenblozen,” and three novelty salads designed to mimic the appearance of a menorah. (A sample table setting, including the menorah salad, can be seen at the end of this post.)

 

Since there are a few days left of the holiday, you may be hoping for some fresh ideas – enjoy these suggestions and recipes from our collections!

 

Pots, Pans, and Pie Plates, and How to Use Them: A Collection of Tried Receipts, compiled by the Hebrew Day Nursery, Baltimore (1905), only has a specific menu for Passover, but it does include a recipe for potato pancakes:

From Pots, Pans, and Pie Plates, and How to Use Them: A Collection of Tried Receipts, JMM 1999.105.1

From Pots, Pans, and Pie Plates, and How to Use Them: A Collection of Tried Receipts, JMM 1999.105.1

Alas, the extremely thorough and otherwise marvelous Settlement Cook Book (ours is a circa 1920 edition), which was sold as a fundraiser for recent Jewish immigrants, includes menus for a Passover supper – as well as meals for Lent, Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Washington’s Birthday – but nothing for Chanukah.  Here’s the suggested “Christmas supper,” in case you want to try it out on the 25th.

From  Settlement Cook Book JMM#1999.065.006

From Settlement Cook Book JMM#1999.065.006

At last, here’s a full meal for you, from The New Jewish Cookbook of Favorite Recipes, Betty Dean (1947 – JMM K2011.5.2):

Channukah

Tomato juice                                                      Mixed green salad

Liver with onions                                              Pickles

Breaded lamb chops                                       Potato pancakes with apple sauce

Cauliflower – string beans – beets            Tea

 

And finally, a helpful hint from The Art of Jewish Cooking, Jennie Grossinger, 1958 (1969 edition – JMM K2011.5.1). Here, the author hedges her bets: Though the Chanukah section mentions latkes and kreplach, “we are not giving you any single menu but suggest experimenting with a variety of dishes suitable for festive occasions in the winter.”

table setting ideas

Chanukah table setting ideas, from (top) Jewish Home Beautiful, 1941, in our library; and (bottom) The Complete American Jewish Cookbook, edited by Anne London and Bertha Kahn Bishov (1952), JMM K2011.5.3.

JoannaA blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts from Joanna click HERE.

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Thanksgivukkah

Posted on November 24th, 2013 by

Last Thursday evening, people all over the United States gave thanks and celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends.  In addition to the Thanksgiving celebrationJews also lit a candle for the celebration of Hanukkah.  Thanksgivukkah is a pop-culture name given to the convergence of the American holiday of Thanksgiving and the first day of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah on Thursday, November 28, 2013.

thanksgivvikuh

This week Time Magazine mentions five (5) things that Thanksgiving and Hanukkah have in common.

  1. 1.      Both holidays are a great excuse to stuff yourself silly. 
  2. 2.      Both are rooted in religion.
  3. 3.      Both were started by groups who found refuge in America.
  4. 4.      Both are all about being thankful
  5. 5.      Both are a reason to go home.

 

Read more: Thanksgivukkah: Five Things Thanksgiving and Hanukkah Have in Common | TIME.com http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/11/25/happy-thanksgivukkah-five-things-thanksgiving-and-hanukkah-have-in-common/#ixzz2lmcroWYh;

 

So, as you gather around your holiday dinner table with family and friends, reflect on all of our blessings and even get a little silly with this little ditty… (tune to My Little Dreidel)

Thanksgivukkah, Thanksgivukkah,
Come light the menurkey
Let’s have a party
With latkes and turkey.
Maccabbees and Pilgrims
Americans and Jews
Thankfulness and freedom—
The lessons we choose.

Chorus:
So come spin the dreidel,
And lighting the candles we gloat.
Hearts skip a beat
For we know soon we’ll eat
Pumpkin pie and some sufganiot!
Hearts skip a beat
For we know soon we’ll eat
Pumpkin pie and some sufganiot!

Thanksgivukkah, Thanksgivukkah,
A joyous occasion
Everyone join in
This rare celebration
Lift up high your voices
With songs and with cheers.
The next one won’t be coming
For 79 thousand years. (Chorus)

Thanksgivukkah, Thanksgivukkah,
A marvelous yuntiff
Bringing together
The rebbe and pontiff.
Blending our traditions
Can give quite a shock:
Nays gadol hayah sham

At Plymouth Rock (Chorus)

 

Hag Sameach!  Happy Holidays!

How did you celebrate Thanksgivukkah? Send us your stories and photos!

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Chanukah in July AND Answers about the Goblet of Fire

Posted on July 12th, 2013 by

If you’ve ever been on one of my behind-the-scenes collections tours, or read my blog posts, you may recall that one of my very favorite artifacts in the collections is what I call the “Goblet of Fire,” named, of course for the Harry Potter novel.  Well, I found out more information about it! See previous posts Selecting Collections and The Goblet of Fire.

In the event that you’ve missed it, our “Goblet of Fire” is the gold-colored vessel that the Rogers Avenue Synagogue used to hold the ashes when they burned their mortgage back in 1975. Knowing that Harry Potter references aren’t exactly the preferred lexicon, in my catalog record I described the artifact as a “compote dish.” And it turns out I wasn’t too far off the mark.

2010073001

2010.73.1

A few weeks I was talking to Irwin Cohen, about the Chanukah House that his family created in the 1980s on Park Heights Avenue. Irwin’s father, Morris, had already donated some photographs and newspaper clippings about the festive home bedecked with colorful lights and oversized dreidels.  I was interested in collecting some more personal items, such as notes, or cards, or stories that visitors shared with the Cohen family expressing what an impact this one-of-a-kind house had on people—both Jewish and non-Jewish.

The Chanukah House, as it was named by the Baltimore Sun. Photo by Stuart Zolotorow, 2001.

The Chanukah House, as it was named by the Baltimore Sun. Photo by Stuart Zolotorow, 2001.

According to Irwin, he didn’t set out on a mission to create “the Chanukah House” when he picked up nine shiny knights at a shop in Williamsburg in July, 1988. He just thought they would make a really great menorah—and he had five months to build it. The first year, the decorations were pretty sparse –just the giant menorah and some lights.

The original menorah created by Irwin Cohen. The idea for the menorah began back in July 1988. Photo by Stuart Zolotorow, 2001.

The original menorah created by Irwin Cohen. The idea for the menorah began back in July 1988. Photo by Stuart Zolotorow, 2001.

Little by little, the family added to the display. The decorations were a combination of Chanukah symbols –dreidels, menorah—pop culture references such as Adam Sandler (“singing” the Chanukah song via CD player), Elmo from Sesame Street, teddy bears, Fiddlers on Rooves and general kitsch.

 Chanukah Barbie

Chanukah Barbie

There was even a Chanukah Barbie scandal. Apparently the 3 ½ foot tall Barbie’s sleeveless evening dress was offensive to one particular woman, who thought she should be more modestly dressed in keeping with Orthodox customs. To mollify the woman, Irwin added a mink fur stole to cover her bare shoulders.

The JMM has Frum clothing for dolls in its collection.

The JMM has Frum clothing for dolls in its collection.

Pretty soon people were driving past this Park Heights house to behold the spectacle Chanukah cards were sold featuring a photograph of the house in its splendor!  In later years, there is a community-wide menorah lighting ceremony.

Children with their candles (or perhaps Harry Potter wands) gather in the Cohen’s front yard for the menorah lighting ceremony.

Children with their candles (or perhaps Harry Potter wands) gather in the Cohen’s front yard for the menorah lighting ceremony.

Many elected officials attended the event and got to light a candle, too. Irwin told me a story of how the Cohen family was enjoying dinner when they thought they saw Governor O’Malley with his young son (and two body-guards in tow) in front of the house. When Anne and Morris Cohen invited the Governor inside O’Malley said “Chanukah wouldn’t be Chanukah if I didn’t stop by the Chanukah House.”

Rikki Spector, Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Mayor Martin O’Malley, and Sheila Dixon attend the menorah lighting in 2007. Anne Cohen is in the background. Photo by Stuart Zolotorow, 2001.

Rikki Spector, Stephanie Rawlings Blake, Mayor Martin O’Malley, and Sheila Dixon attend the menorah lighting in 2007. Anne Cohen is in the background. Photo by Stuart Zolotorow, 2001.

I enjoyed “celebrating” Chanukah in July with Mr. Cohen.

Morris and Anne Cohen

Morris and Anne Cohen

A few minutes after we hung up, my phone rang again. It’s Irwin. He has another story for me.  He had seen my blog post and had the answer to my question How Was this Bowl Chosen?  In 1974 his grandmother passed away. The family received a number of fruit baskets during shiva including one in a gold-footed bowl from Raimondi’s. It was an attractive bowl, so they decided to save it.

A year later, Morris was looking for something to burn the mortgage in. Irwin, home from college, informed his dad he knew the perfect thing to use. He went downstairs and found the fruit bowl.  The rest, as they say, is history!

JobiA blog post by Senior Collections Manager and Registrar Jobi Zink. To read other posts by Jobi, click here.

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