Posted on October 15th, 2012 by Rachel
A blog post by Visitor Services Coordinator Abby Krolik.
Sukkot may have been over for the rest of the world last Thursday night, but at the JMM, it was still in full swing! As part of our Brooze & Schmooze event series for young adults, we held the second of what I hope will be many more Iron Chef competitions. The first Iron Chef competition here was held during Passover and featured horseradish as the secret ingredient; this time around, our secret ingredient was whatever seasonal produce Kayam Farms had on hand, which I thought fit nicely with the Sukkot, the harvest festival, theme.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the food channel competition show “Iron Chef,” a little explanation is in order. The original series involves two teams, each headed by a celebrity chef, who compete for the ultimate title of “Iron Chef” by cooking a three course meal in one hour that utilizes, in each course, a surprise ingredient that is only revealed at the last minute.
In our version, we had four teams: Team “BIYA” (B’nai Israel Young Adult); Team “Kayam” (they swear they didn’t know the secret ingredient beforehand!); Team “Honey Jew Jew”; and, the defending champions from Iron Chef: Passover, Team “The Still Very Last Minute Goyim.” We provided all of them with all the equipment and food materials they were allowed to use (which included a very heavy pumpkin), and we required that they cook only two dishes–one savory, one sweet–with the secret ingredient.
One minute before their time began, Elena announced the secret ingredient of the night: Winter Greens! (Collard green, kale, mustard greens, etc.) And the race was on!
All four teams came up with some very creative dishes–though a couple of them were more creative than tasty. These dishes ran the gamut of mustard greens falafel (one of my personal favorites from the night); a mixed vegetables salad served on large kale leaves; and sweet “dolma” made with nuts, date syrup, and wrapped in collard leaves.
By the time our three judges were ready to make their rounds to all the teams’ tables, there was a lot of built up suspense, anticipation, and hunger! The teams were judged according to creativity, aesthetics, and, of course, taste. Once the judges had each had their tastes, all of the spectators were allowed to try the dishes as well.
In the end, though it was a close call, Team “Kayam” won first place, with Team “The Still Very Last Minute Goyim” in second; Team “Honey Jew Jew” in third, and Team “BIYA” in fourth.
We all had a great time putting on this event, and it looked like our participants had as much fun as we did!
Posted on September 12th, 2012 by Rachel
By Rabbi Barbara Aiello
After the Chosen Food exhibition opened almost a year ago, my research on Jewish food slowed considerably, but it did not come to a complete halt. I’m forever hearing about something that is new to me, or seizing on bits of history and culture that I put aside for further investigation. The Sephardic/Mizrachi custom of the Rosh HaShanah seder was included in our exhibition, thanks to Poopa Dweck’s generosity in sharing a photograph from her beautiful cookbook, Aromas of Aleppo (Harper Collins, 2007), but we didn’t explore it in depth. So I reached out to Rabbi Barbara Aiello, a woman on the forefront of popularizing this lovely custom in America, to write about her experiences for us.
Rabbi Barbara, as she likes to be addressed, is the first woman rabbi and first non-orthodox rabbi in Italy. She serves Sinagoga Ner Tamid del Sud, the first active synagogue in Calabria since Inquisition times. During the winter months she serves the Kobernick senior living campus in Sarasota, Florida where she is resident rabbi. Contact her at www.rabbibarbara.com.
For more information about how to celebrate a Rosh HaShanah seder, complete with a “mini haggadah,” go to Rabbi Barbara’s 2010 post on Interfaith Family at http:///www.interfaithfamily.com/holidays/rosh_hashanah_and_yom_kippur/The_Rosh_Hashanah_Seder_Who_Knew.shtml
Shana tova umetukah!
Rabbi Barbara Aiello
All of us know the most popular seder of all – the Passover Seder. “Seder” is a Hebrew word that means “order,” and the Passover seder includes an order of prayers and blessings, symbolic foods and songs, and of course, a special seder plate, to help tell the story of the our Jewish ancestors’ flight from slavery in Egypt to freedom.
The less well-known Rosh HaShanah seder is a Sephardic custom. In Jewish homes in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Greece, North African countries like Morocco and Egypt, and India, it is traditional for families to hold a seder on the night before Rosh HaShanah.
The Rosh HaShanah seder is similar to the Passover seder in many ways. It includes stories, prayers, blessings, songs and symbolic foods. In recent years seder plates designed especially for the symbolic Rosh HaShanah seder foods have become available so that families can create a specific “order” to celebrate the birthday of the world.
The Rosh HaShanah seder is called “Seder Yehi Ratzon,” the Seder of God’s will, because we offer blessings that it will be God’s will that we are blessed with bounty, strength, and peace in the coming year. The seder has its origins in the Talmud (Horayot 12a) where Rabbi Abaye writes about eating those foods that grow in abundance at this time of the year. We serve this abundance at our Rosh HaShanah seder table as a symbol of prosperity.
As a Sephardic Jew and rabbi who serves a congregation in Calabria, Italy, for part of the year, I brought the Rosh HaShanah seder to my congregants who live at the Kobernick senior community in Sarasota, Florida. I’ve offered the seder tasting for three years to participants who range in age from 70 to over 100 years old, and members of the community who volunteer on our campus. We create small seder plates so that each individual can sample the symbolic foods. A larger plate contains a taste of the symbolic foods such as dates or pomegranates, figs, apples and honey, carrots, pumpkin or squash, beets, scallions or leeks and tuna fish. The table centerpiece features a large fish head, reminiscent of the ancient seder tradition where a large steamed fish was offered as the main course.
The Rosh HaShanah seder is quickly becoming an important event in the celebration of the Jewish New Year, mainly because it offers a joyful simcha during a solemn time of the year. Sometimes the birthday of the world is secondary to Rosh HaShanah’s more somber message of teshuvah (return). The Rosh HaShanah seder offers a moment of joy prior to the services that contain a more serious theme.
The cultural element to the seder experience gives American Jews, the majority of whom have roots in the Ashkenazi tradition, a chance to experience a simcha that originates from Sephardic or Middle Eastern culture. Because we Sephardic Jews are a minority within a minority, our unique culture is often obscure or misunderstood. The seder gives Jews of all backgrounds a glimpse into the beauty of the Mediterranean Jewish culture, broadening the “meshpucha” feeling for all of us.
Finally those who participate in the Rosh HaShanah seder have the opportunity to add another family-based observance to the New Year experience. We Jews enjoy gathering around the family table. The Rosh HaShanah seder is another way to bring the family together, not only to tickle the palate, but to share in gratitude for another year of love and life.
Posted on August 28th, 2012 by Rachel
A blog post by Gift Shop Manager Esther Weiner.
Did I say kreplach? In the same breath as the High Holidays? Yes, I did…and since you asked, I’ll tell you why. Since I was a child my mother, Pearl Printz, served her delicious golden chicken soup every Friday night, always with her home-made noodles. Of course for the high holidays, kreplach floated in the soup, hiding between the noodles. It was kind of a tradition that kreplach and Rosh Hashanah were a team. When I got married and moved to Baltimore, my mother-in-law, Fannie Weiner, made kreplach, they too were delicious, and I was hooked on learning how to put them together.
Well, after trial and error I came up with my own recipe and now my family will not sit down to the table unless they know that kreplach will come with the chicken soup! So my friends who follow blogs, I am stuck…but, I must admit, happily so. Even though it’s a big job, I love making kreplach. I make what seems like tons of them so that they last through the holidays, the extras hidden in my freezer, to surface on Shabbat dinners with friends and family (…”what, kreplach?”) and the bounty continues to be enjoyed through the year, as long as they last.
Definition of kreplach: Small dough squares, filled with a mixture of seasoned cooked meat, served with a soup, usually chicken soup, although they have been known to float in vegetable soup as well.
(dough squares filled with meat), makes approximately 150 pieces
Use a food processor, it’s easier. Into the processor bowl put:
3 cups regular flour
1 tsp salt
Scant ¼ cup warm water
PROCESS all of the above until dough forms a ball. If necessary add a bit more water to the machine as it processes. Stopping the motor to push down the dough.
REMOVE the dough, knead on a board or clean countertop until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Any combination of cooked chicken and beef, or chicken and veal or beef and veal. Meat can be cooked in a soup, removing the cooked meat when cool and cut into small pieces. There should be about 1 ½ lbs of cooked meat. Saute a large onion (or 2 medium size onions) in oil together with minced 4-5 pieces garlic until golden. Grind the meat together with the onions (they should be ground twice otherwise the meat could be chunky). To the ground meat mixture add 2 or 3 eggs (depending on your amount of meat), about 3 tblsp fine bread crumbs, salt and pepper to taste.
ROLL OUT DOUGH
Cut off a small piece of dough, roll out as fine as possible, dough should be quite thin. Cut into strips then into 2” squares, fill with a half tsp. of meat mixture, fold to form a triangle, close the ends by pressing them tight. Drop the filled triangles into a pot of simmering lightly salted water, cook for 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and put into a bowl, lightly sprinkle with oil. Continue until all the meat is used.
NOTE: kreplach will freeze well in strong plastic bags.