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Traditional Food of the Jewish Diaspora

The Jewish nation has been living in all four corners of the world for a long 2000 year diaspora. Unique customs and cuisine have developed over these years within each community. Now, with the return of Jews to their homeland in Israel, the traditional Friday night dinner is influenced by the many foods eaten from around the world.

Join us for “Tastes of Shabbat from around the world,” and learn about the history of these communities as well as enjoying a diversity of cuisines!

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Fun Facts
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Shabbat, our “day of rest” includes eating – a lot!  Take a look at a sample menu from our Friday night dinner- it is not permitted to leave our table hungry!
*Please note that details may change according to seasons etc.

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DID YOU KNOW???

There was a Jewish community in China which dated back to as early as the 7th or 8th century CE? In addition to this long lasting community, thousands of Jews took refuge in China during the Holocaust, even setting up a famous yeshiva in Shanghai.

Did you know that there exist communities around the world with traditions that they belong to the “Ten Lost Tribes” who were exiled from Israel by the Assyrians during the 8th century BCE?! These communities exist in such far off places as India, Southern Russia and Nigeria. Their traditions claim heritage to tribes such as Manasseh, Isaachar and Dan.

Did you know that there is a long standing community of Jews in Ethiopia, known as Beta Yisrael? More than a hundred thousand Jews lived in North and North-Western Ethiopia, in more than 500 small villages spread over a wide territory, among Muslim and predominantly Christian ruling populations. Nearly all of Ethiopia’s Jews came to Israel in two rescue operations- Operation Moses (1984) and Operations Solomon (1991).

Did you know that Jews, have lived on the island of Cuba for centuries? Some native Cubans even trace Jewish ancestry to conversos (Jews who converted to Christianity to avoid persecution but secretly continued to practice Judaism) who fled the Spanish Inquisition.

Did you know that the world’s northernmost synagogue is said to be in Murmansk, Russia? The most southernmost synagogue is said to be in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Did you know that the “Jews of the Bilad al-Sudan” refers to Jewish communities in West Africa? Historical records attest to their presence in Ghana, Mali and the Songai empires. The last rabbi of Timbuktu (Mali) was Rabbi Mordechai Abi Serour in the late 1800’s.

Did you know that Curacao (an island in the southern Caribbean Sea, off of Venezuela) has the oldest active Jewish congregation in the Americas – dating to 1651 – and the oldest synagogue of the Americas, in continuous use since its completion in 1732?

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Recipes Heading

You too can enjoy warm, traditional foods in your own home. Try out some of these recipes!

Chicken Soup
Rice and Lentils
Morrocan Fish

Chicken Soup
In my home, chicken soup is the ultimate Shabbat food. All too often, the meal ends after serving the chicken soup as it can be a meal in and of itself.
Chicken soup is also known for its amazing therapeutic qualities. Many a Jewish mother has passed on the Tylenol and antibiotics in exchange for a bowl of homemade chicken soup!

Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls

For the soup:

3 lbs of chicken parts, skinned if possible (wings, necks, legs etc)
2 carrots, pealed and cut
1 large onion
1 big piece of orange pumpkin (approximately 3 in. x 3 in.)
1 big bunch of fresh dill
1 heaping tbls of chicken soup powder
salt to taste

optional: 1 sweet potato, 1 regular potato, celery stalks

Put all of the ingredients (except for chicken soup powder) into a large pot, add water (about 3-4 liters), cover with top, and bring to boil. When the soup has reached boiling, add the chicken soup powder, lower the flame and let simmer- the more the better (I usually cook my soup for 4-5hours). Add salt to taste.

For the matzah balls:

For every egg used, add one tablespoon of vegetable oil (5 eggs will make approximately 12-15 matzah balls). Mix the oil, eggs and salt in a large bowl.
Slowly add matzah meal until you can just barely form balls with the batter (if you add too much maztah meal, the balls will be too hard).

Put into the soup and cook for 30 minutes.

Lentils

After spending six months in India, our Shabbat meals always include something Indian. The spices and aromas from India fill my kitchen, as I prepare healthy and hearty vegetarian dishes. Rice and Dhal (lentils) is a staple in any Indian home and is served nearly every day.

Rice and Dhal
1 tbls vegetable oil (in India, ghee, or clarified butter is used)
1 cup finely chopped white onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbls finely chopped fresh ginger
4 cups water
1 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp Garam Masala
Cayenne pepper and salt to taste

In a medium-sized soup pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the cumin and mustard seeds. When they start to “pop,” add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent.

Stirring constantly, add the water, lentils, spices and salt. Bring to a low boil, then turn down the heat to low, cover and let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are very tender.

Serve over white Basmati rice.

Moroccan Fish

Food of Morocco is fragrant, flavorful, and most important- spicy hot! Because of its long coastline with the Mediterranean, Moroccan recipes are rich with fish and the classic ingredients of the sun drenched Mediterranean- olives, garlic, and lemons. This Moroccan Fish recipe has become a classic for Friday night meals in many Israeli homes. For those faint of heart, the green chilies can be reduced!

1 ½ lbs Princess of the Nile (or Tilapia) fish
½ cup of olive oil (preferably olive oil, but any vegetable oil can be used instead)
6 garlic cloves- cut coarsely
handful of fresh coriander
handful of fresh parsley
½ cup of lemon juice (preferably fresh)
2 tomatoes- cut into thin slices
2 red pepper- cut into sticks (or thin rings)
1 carrot- cut into sticks
1 tbls of cumin
1 tbls paprika
green chili peppers- to taste, cut into rings
1 tbls of tomato paste

Soak the fish in lemon juice and sea salt.

Heat a saucepan with the oil. Add the peppers, chili peppers and carrots. After the peppers are fried, add the tomatoes and stir gently. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes until it makes a paste.

Add the tomato paste and stir together until it comes to an even consistency. Add approximately 1 cup of boiling water and the dry spices. Stir it all together.

Add the fish fillets and simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Sprinkle the parsley and coriander on top.

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Enjoy these and other delicious home-made recipes served at a Friday night dinner on Shabbat of a Lifetime.
Join us for Shabbat! Be in touch for booking.