September 2010

Challah Recipe

Challah is the traditional ritual bread of the Jewish people. Its recipe dates back as far as the Jewish exile in Babylon and possibly earlier. In addition to being a very tasty, unique food, challah is a deeply symbolic item. Its ingredients are rich and luxurious, certainly too costly to be used for everyday bread. Challah is the bread of the sabbath, an aesthetically pleasing sacrament that is not only the beginning of the shabbat meal, it is also a confluence of symbols.

3 Great Movies About Jewish Families

The American movie business has always been closely tied with the Jewish community. Many of the most talented Jews on Vaudeville stages, like the Marx Brothers and George Burns, transitioned to the big screen where they offered up the wit and humor their audiences loved to viewers all over the world. It wouldn't be until much later that films started to overtly depict Jews, especially in candid portrayals of Jewish family life. The following three films are funny, touching and honest windows into American Jewish homes at different times in history.

Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Mizrahic Jews

Jewish communities have existed for long periods of time in regions throughout the world. While Judaic or Hebraic have long been considered discreet ethnic designations, the fact that one's Jewishness has more to do with religious belief than genetic history has confused this label over the centuries. It has been nearly 2000 years since Jews belonged to a single ethnicity, a result of the great Jewish Diaspora that followed the Jewish rebellions against Roman rule in the imperial province of Judea. When Jerusalem was sacked and the Jews still living in the Roman Empire were scattered across the globe, smaller Jewish communities flourished outside of the once sovereign territory of Canaan. By the Middle Ages, three major ethnic subgroups arose within the Jewish community and we still recognize those groups today. They are the Ashenazim, the Sephardim and the Mizrahim.

Jewish Weddings

The modern Jewish wedding is a combination of ancient traditions and culture-wide secular practices, a proper reflection of how Jews fit into modern society. Many elements of a Jewish wedding would be familiar to anyone who grew up in Western culture. Men wear tuxedos, the bride wears a white dress with a veil and train, the ceremony is most often followed by a formal reception. Little about the ceremony itself would seem esoteric to an outsider, though there are some symbols and rituals that are unique to the Jewish wedding that bear some explaining.