“TASTES OF JEWISH TRADITION” compiled by Jody Hirsh, Idy Goodman, Aggie Goldenholz and Susan Roth, with a foreword by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin came highly recommended – it was the National Winner of the Tabasco Community Cookbook Awards for 2002, a finalist in the National Jewish Book Awards, an Award Winner of the Writer’s Digest National Self Published Books, and a Parent’s Choice Foundation recommendation.

Even though this cookbook will appeal to all ages, it has been especially designed for young people. It is written in an easy-to-understand format with plenty of illustrations. All of the Jewish holidays are represented, with an explanation for the holiday, the traditions, and interesting food facts—followed by a typical menu for that holiday and recipes for children to try. There are also directions for a variety of crafts and other relevant activities. For instance, there is a chapter on Hanukkah. (Hanukkah is one of the Jewish holidays with which I am most familiar. For many years, my best friend—who was Jewish—and I shared our respective holidays with one another. We celebrated Hanukkah with them and they celebrated Christmas with us. Our children all thought this was a fine idea. They got extra presents!).

However, there is a great deal more to Hanukkah than extra presents. First we learn, in the “TASTES OF JEWISH TRADITION” the meaning of Hanukkah—which, oddly enough, is not mentioned in the Bible. Hanukkah is celebrated in memory of a small band of Jews who defeated a mighty Greek army to reclaim Jerusalem and rededicated the Holy Temple. However, when the exhausted and hungry soldiers entered the temple, they only found enough oil to last one day. However, miraculously, the oil lasted eight days in the menorah that was kept in the temple. In memory of this, the holiday of Hanukkah was established as an eight-day celebration. In “TASTES OF JEWISH TRADITION” we learn about the traditions of Hanukkah, fascinating food facts, a typical Hanukkah menu –and how to make Hanukkah “Gelt” (a candy wrapped in foil to resemble coins). There is also a Read-Aloud story and Hanukkah Crafts and Activities, such as making your own Menorah, as well as party ideas and gift ideas.

In the Foreword to “TASTES OF JEWISH TRADITION”, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin writes, “In 1965, LOOK magazine published a cover story on the ‘Vanishing American Jew,’ which predicted that by the year 2000, the Jews of the United States would number about two million and be on the road to eventual extinction. More than thirty-five years have passed and, as my friend Michael Medved has noted, ‘Look at the Jewish people and look at LOOK magazine…”

Indeed, says the Rabbi, Jews are not only not becoming extinct but are actually thriving. He says that hundreds of people cooperated with the compilation of “TASTES OF JEWISH TRADITION” sending in recipes and reminisces, original art and heartfelt reflections, all revolving around the theme of the Jewish holidays. “Had someone predicted in 1965,” writes the Rabbi, “when LOOK published its pessimistic prognosis that such an event, supported by so many people, would happen in Milwaukee in 2000, they probably would have been dismissed as hopelessly naïve…”

“One of the things that so impresses me about this volume,” he continues, “is the way in which it invites its readers in, almost like at a Hasidic rebbe’s tisch (table). First, you learn about the holiday, its origin and meaning, then you are given suggestions on how to experience it and are also offered a selection of texts. There are stories for children and a menu that enables even the greatest Jewish novice to become something of an instant maven…”

“TASTES OF JEWISH TRADITION” was written in the spirit of the mission of its authors to encourage the transmission of Jewish traditions, values, and rituals from parents to children.

The cookbook was also dedicated to Fannie Brafman Bloom, who was the author of Milwaukee’s first kosher cookbook. Fannie Brafman Bloom was one of the first kosher caterers in Milwaukee who always dreamed of publishing a cookbook for children.. As for the authors, Jody Hirsh is a Ph.D candidate in modern Hebrew literature and is an internationally known and highly respected Jewish educator. Idy Goodman holds a Master’s in Jewish Education from Cleveland College of Jewish Studies and a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin; Aggie Goldenholz also received her Master’s in Jewish Studies from the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies and is Director of Judaic Education at the New Orleans Jewish Day School. Susan Roth holds a Bachelor’s degree in education and social work. With regard to the artists whose work lavishly illustrates “TASTES OF JEWISH TRADITION”, Cindy Cooper is a popular Milwaukee illustrator whose work includes children’s workshops, puppet shows and “Ketubot” (elaborate Jewish marriage contracts). Betsy Kaplan, whose artwork graces the cover of “TASTES OF JEWISH TRADITION” was inspired by her Jewish roots and passion for nature and animals

“TASTES OF JEWISH TRADITION” covers in detail the holidays of Shabbat, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Tu Bishvat, Purim, Passover, Lag B’Omer, Yom Ha’Atzmaut, and Shavuot. These chapters are followed by a complete section of recipes (for adults). Originally, the book was conceived as a cookbook but it quickly evolved into a community project. “TASTES OF JEWISH TRADITION” was created because the Parentine Center provides Judaic learning at every turn through song, music, stories and play. The desire of parents to ‘take it all home’ was the impetus for creating this book

Although “TASTES OF JEWISH TRADITION” has been written to teach Jewish children about their holidays and traditions, this is a beautiful book for all children, everywhere, to read – and from which they can learn. My friend, Rosalia, with whom I shared so many Hanukkahs (as she and her family shared Christmas with us), and I both believed that the world would be a far better place if children could learn, and experience, the holidays and traditions of all faiths and nationalities.

TASTES OF JEWISH TRADITION is available on Amazon.com new $20.00 or preowned, $4.76 and up. It is also available on Alibris.com $20.71 for a new copy or $4.81 for preowned.

Happy Cooking! And Happy Holidays – whatever you celebrate!


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