Remembering the Holocaust: Jewish cooks on how they preserve Jewish Culture through cooking

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As part of Holocaust Remembrance day on January 27, social media editor Anna Klauz and managing editor Misha Rekhter ask Jewish Americans about preserving Jewish Culture through cooking.

 

Stacy Myra, First Generation Jewish American

What type of food did you make?

Blintzes, they are like Jewish pancakes.

Where did you learn this recipe?

My mother used to make blintzes for me all the time. We would always eat blintzes during the winter holidays with jam and Nutella. One year, when I was like six or seven, my mom let me help her make them and she taught me the recipe. We had a really fun time so now I make them every year with my mom.

 

What does cooking traditional Jewish food mean to you?

For me, cooking things like blintzes is a way to stay in touch with my roots. By eating the same food as my ancestors, I’m able to continue and pass on parts of my culture. If we stop eating our traditional foods then those recipes will disappear forever.

What is the significance of culture to you?

It is very important to me to understand the origins of my family. Jewish people have persevered through many difficulties and it would be disservice to forget what my ancestors have done for me. I try to hold on to my culture through continuing to do traditions and things of that nature.

How do you use cooking to preserve culture?

I love cooking and so have most of the women in my family so I use it as a way to carry on their traditions and legacy. My grandmother was such a great cook and I always use her recipes when making food. It’s a great way to remember her and allows her to live on through the food.

 

 

Katya Klyuev, Jewish Mother and Immigrant From Israel

What type of food did you make?

I made Shakshuka, a traditional Jewish breakfast dish made with peppers, eggs and tomato sauce.

Where did you learn this recipe?

I learned this recipe from my grandmother. She used to cook it for me every Saturday morning as a child. Around the age of 11, I remember finally learning how to open a can of tomato sauce so after that my grandma gave me the recipe and told me to try to make it for myself.

 

What does cooking traditional Jewish food mean to you?

Cooking traditional Jewish food to me means carrying down my family’s recipes from generation to generation. Being able to show my kids my heritage through food is important to me as I want them learn about their delicious culture and work to keep it alive.

What is the significance of culture to you?

My family places a large emphasis on culture, so being able to recreate these recipes lets me carry on the culture for myself and the people around me. These recipes are some of my favorites and come from many of the closest people in my life. Through cookings and other methods, I try to celebrate my culture in everything that I do.

How do you use cooking to preserve culture?

By cooking the signature dishes and recipes that have been in my family for generations, I’m able to remember and honor my loved ones and our community. Moreover, being able to pass down these recipes is important because it’s a way to teach people about their past.

 

 

Igor Mazyar, Jewish Grandfather and Immigrant From Ukraine.

What type of food did you make?

Liver Pâté, which is just a fancy name for chopped liver.

Where did you learn this recipe?

I honestly don’t know. I just remember that my mom would put onions and carrots into basically every meal and it made the food much better. At some point, I must have asked her to teach me so that I could cook for myself.

 

What does cooking traditional Jewish food mean to you?

It’s really all I know. I’ve been eating this sort of food for my entire life. I like other types of food, but I just find comfort in those traditional recipes. It really reminds me of being home and eating with my family. I also really enjoy cooking my style of food for other people. For example, when I make chopped liver, not only do I eat it, but my dog also eats it and he loves it! Unfortunately, most Americans don’t like it as much though because they don’t eat liver very often. It’s very funny to see their faces after I tell them what’s in the food.

What is the significance of culture to you?

It is absolutely vital. As an immigrant, it’s easy to lose touch with where you are from so I make sure to not forget my cultural roots. My culture is an integral part of my life and is something I won’t let be stripped away from me. I try to maintain most of the traditions that I did as a kid so I can pass them on to my kids and grandkids. I’m old enough to recognize that we only live on through our kids and I want them to carry on my culture with them.

How do you use cooking to preserve culture?

I love to eat so I cook a lot for myself and others. Since I cook so much, I’ve gone through a lot of recipes. I’ve realized my favorites are all Jewish recipes I remember from my childhood or from people in the community. I make them a lot for my grandkids and I like to think I’m helping to maintain these Jewish recipes. Just like I’m still eating Jewish foods now, I hope my kids and grandkids will be doing the same thing when they are older. In that way, Jewish foods and recipes will stay alive.

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