Bringing our Traditions Together Through Food

Bringing our Traditions Together Through Food

Anna Glassman-Kaufman, Rosh Mitbachon (Teaching Kitchen)

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During the Shabbat of hanhallah (supervisory staff) week, we reflected on the idea of inheritance, and what values or traditions we have each inherited from our families, friends, and communities. For me that value is the importance of food and cooking, and the ways that recipes and culinary traditions can bring a family together. Many of my favorite family memories have occurred while cooking together for holidays, exploring food markets around the world, and often spending every meal discussing what we will eat for the next one.

At camp, we spend about two hours every day sitting with our tzrifim (cabins) at meals in the chadar ochel (dining hall). We have a chance to catch up on our days, spend time as a tzrif, sing songs as an aidah, and be together as an entire camp in one building. Meals bring the camp community together three times every single day. Food has always played that role in my life; food ties communities together, it starts conversations, it allows us to explore new cultures and share our own with new people.

I am so excited to be a part of bringing this value to Ramah Wisconsin this kayitz (summer) in our new mitbachon (teaching kitchen). In the mitbachon, chanichim and chanichot (campers) have the opportunity to learn basic cooking and baking skills to translate to new exciting recipes throughout and after the summer. In just the first week of camp with Garinim and Shoafim, we’ve already worked together to learn vegetable cutting techniques, make our own butter, mix and braid challah, and talk about the importance of cooking and baking in Jewish texts and tradition.

In each two-week reva (unit) throughout the summer, we will spend the first week learning the basics of a kitchen: how to follow a recipe, hold a knife, pair flavors, safely use all of the equipment in the mitbachon, and more. The second week will feature a guest chef from the Ramah community who will teach their specialty recipes to the chanichim and chanichot. This week, we have the privilege to learn from Rabbi Alexander Davis, from Beth El in St. Louis Park, Minnesota who is teaching chanichim and chanichot to make challah, potato borekas, and shakshuka.

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In nearly every perek (period) I have taught so far, I have heard a camper say “my grandma makes this!” or “my dad taught me how to do this too!” Clearly food is a vital part of Jewish tradition and culture in so many of our families, and I am so excited to introduce the mitbachon this summer as a new anaf (activity) in camp to encourage campers to keep exploring Judaism through food!

Ariana Hershon