Food and the Stories They Tell
Mit a Yiddish Ta-am (with a Jewish flavour)
Michael Schwartz, Coordinator of Programs and Development of the Jewish Museum of BC described how they concentrate on collecting and caring for documents, photographs, artifacts and oral histories which chronicle all facets of Jewish Community History. Their theme this year is “Feeding the Community,” thus partnering with the JSA whose theme centered on food was natural fit. Food represents identity, acceptability and relationships.
Shanie Levin’s first story was an excerpt from “Rhapsody in Schmaltz” by Michael Wex in which he listed the various blessings to be said before and after consuming foods. Levin revealed that Ashkenazy Jews remained close to their customs of origin however Sephardic Jews more often adapted their food preparation according to the country in which they found themselves.
A crowd favourite was ‘The Chicken Tale’ by Rabbi Daniel T. Grossman which had everyone laughing, hearing about the rabbi who travelling with a group of Jewish choir singers, found himself in a town which knew nothing about the customs of Jews. His hostess had done her research and informed the rabbi that she knew that rabbis kill chickens, therefore there was a chicken in the yard and townspeople were waiting to witness the kill. However, the horrified rabbi said that he was not that kind of rabbi but a praying and teaching rabbi. So that night they all ate fish.
The musical program followed consisting of Debby Fenson, Deborah Stern Silver and their accompanist Elliot Dainow. Introducing their program Deborah Stern Silver said the songs being presented will be of Ashkenazy sources. ‘Tiereh Malkeh’ is a Yiddish drinking song included props of a drinking cup and an empty bottle of wine. The audience eagerly joined in with the chorus of ‘Bulbehs’ (potatoes), which bemoaned the daily eating of potatoes. The third song transported everyone to the Israeli market place ‘Shuk Ha’Carmel’. ‘Rohzhinkehs mit Mandlen’ a lullaby sung to children, brought tears of recognition and nostalgia.
It is impossible to capture the warm feeling of shared chavershaft (camaraderie) prevailing in the room, a Fahrgenigehn, a deep pleasure and enjoyment. It was a superb session which left everyone spiritually nurtured and nourished, encompassing all that gladdens the Jewish heart within each one of us. A Hartziken Dank tzu Alemehn!
Binny Goldman– JSA