SOUL FOOD

2013.10.25 – 2014.08.31

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The Jewish Museum in Stockholm wishes to highlight Jewish cooking tradition with the exhibition Soul Food. The cooking tradition of the Swedish Jews has its roots in both the ritual laws in Judaism and in Jewish immigration to Sweden. From the recipes one can clearly see that the Jews have been a nomadic people. Jews have settled in most of the world´s countries and thereby they have been inspired by other people. The family recipes are passed on from generation to generation and they all vary depending on from which countries the earlier generations immigrated. But regardless of the different Jewish roots we can recognize the dishes, which connect our current time to history.

The traditional Jewish food evokes memories within many Jews, who can associate some scents and flavors to their childhood´s sensations.

The common meals, especially during high holidays, such as Passover/Pesach and the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, are important for conveying knowledge from generation to generation about Jewish history and tradition.

Through the exhibition Soul Food The Jewish Museum in Stockholm invites the visitors to explore the secrets of Jewish cooking. We also offer tasting of the specialties. In the exhibition one feels transferred to New York, Krakow and Tel Aviv. It is clear that Jewish food is popular no matter where you are in the world.

I wish you all welcome to Hälsingegatan 2 in Stockholm to see and experience this interesting, exciting and beautiful exhibition.

Yvonne Jacobsson
Director

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Judiska Museets tackar:

Utställningsgruppen, Marina Burstein, förläggare i Hillelförlaget, som utgivit den utmärkta, vackra och spännande kokboken ”Judisk mat i svenskt kök” och Eva Fried, som givit idén till nämnd kokbok och som författat densamma, samt Yael Fried, informatör och projektledare vid museet.

Kreatörerna av det konstärliga konceptet;
Peter Holm för formgivningen av utställningen
Karl Gabor för foto och lay-out
Sara Selander för attribut och dekormåleri
Tami Salamon för arkitektoniska ritningar och utställningsassistans

Det byggnadstekniska teamet;
Anders och Sören Broberg, Håkan Ledberg och Håkan Magnusson vid Byggnadsfirma Per Olsson, byggnation, ljussättning och måleri Richard Finder, XLMedia AB, vepor och textmontering

Därutöver: Annika Ehnwall, webmaster och Ludmila Prokofjeva, ekonomiansvarig vid Judiska Museet.

Ett varmt tack till ovanstående personer, som möjliggjort utställningen.

Yvonne Jacobsson
Museichef/Utställningsansvarig

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soul_food_resorJewish food on the move

The Jews can rightly be described as a “nomadic” people. Over the course of history Jews have settled in most of the world’s countries and have adapted to the varying cultures in these countries. This has had a major influence on what Jews eat, and there are large dietary variations that have to do with the geographical dispersion of the Jews.

Despite this fact, Jewish food has many common denominators. One can probably answer the question as to whether Jewish food really exists in both positive and negative terms. People speak of Jewish food, often with a nostalgic ring. Tastes and aromas bring back memories of relatives and places, of pleasurable and less pleasurable events. But agreeing on a comprehensive definition of Jewish food is well nigh impossible.

The importance of food in modern Jewish tradition has given rise to a sort of “culinary” Judaism. Many people today identify with their ancestral religion only by their love of Jewish dishes.

But the principal reason for the large number of influences in Jewish dietary traditions is to be found in the almost constant Jewish migrations. Food links us with out past and it helps us to link up with our background.

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soul_food_identitetFood och identity

Every culture has developed its own order and its own rituals regarding the intake of food. Diet is part of our identity. It confirms that we belong to a specific community or society with all the other people who observe the diet. Our food habits express what and who we are and where we belong.

Observing the rules of keeping kosher constantly reminds us of our origins. Eating together with people who do not observe the same dietary regulations can be problematic. It is possible that in Biblical and Talmudic times one saw this “problematic” aspect as being advantageous; something that helped to maintain a cultural boundary with respect to other peoples, and that it limited assimilation and provided a social cement for the Jewish community.

Keeping kosher gives food a particular prominence. Food is a religious dimension, a platform that, ultimately, gives concrete expression to everyday life.

Many of the customs pertaining to Jewish meals are more readily understood if we realize that the dining table has come to symbolize the sacrificial altar in the Temple in Jerusalem. People brought their gifts of animals and crops to the Temple. Since the destruction of the temple the sacrifices have been replaced by prayers and thanksgiving.

The rules pertaining to meals show that the intake of food has, to an extent, been raised to the status of a religious observance. Jewish rituals in connection with meals teach us not to eat without thinking about what we are eating and without remembering to be grateful for the fact that we have food to eat.

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A kosher household

soul_food_kosherThe term kosher is a Hebrew word that can be translated as “whole”, “unbroken”, “not damaged”, “suitable”, or “fit-for-purpose”. In connection with food, kosher has come to mean “prepared in the right way” and denotes what food Jewish law and tradition allows Jews to eat. The opposite to kosher is taref (Hebrew), or treif (Yiddish).

Fundamental to a kosher household is not mixing meat and milk. Not only does one refrain from mixing meat or meat products with milk or milk products, one also maintains separate vessels and pans for them as well as separate sinks, tableware and so on.

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soul_food_pesachdukningHoliday foods

Marking the beginning and end of the religious festivals or holidays in relation to normal daily life has always been central to Judaism. Even though a family was poor they would do everything possible to be able to experience the “sweetness” of the Sabbath or other festivals. Accordingly, people would maintain a rather Spartan diet during the working week in order to be able to serve food on the Sabbath that, on other days, the family had to do without. Decorating the dining table on these special occasions was also a way of separating weekdays from the Sabbath or other festivals and, as we all know, a festive table arrangement is the very essence of the sense of anticipation and pleasure that we associate with an approaching festive occasion.

The principle meals during a Jewish holiday follow the same basic pattern. The dining table reminds one of the sacrificial altar in the Temple in Jerusalem, the heart of Biblical Judaism. The meal starts with blessing the bread and wine. After this, everyone at the table gets to taste the wine and to eat a piece of the ritual bread. Salt is an indispensible element in the meal and the ritual bread should preferably be eaten with salt. Wine, bread and salt always feature in holiday meals.

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Shabat – the Sabbath

soul_food_shabatdukningFor many Jews, celebrating the Sabbath is the very core of their religion. In the Bible, one of the Ten Commandments is concerned with observing the Sabbath and the day is described as the crown of the seven days of creation. Particular to the Sabbath is the commandment about not making a fire. This has given rise to all sorts of culinary ideas, dishes that are prepared before the Sabbath commences and that can then be eaten on both Friday evening and for lunch on Saturday.

 

It is the Biblical story of the creation that is the basis of observing the Sabbath. The celebration mainly takes place at home. The Sabbath candles are lit at sunset and the entire family gathers to partake of the Sabbath meal on Friday evening. This may sometimes be the only meal of the week that the entire family are able to take part in. The fact of the whole family being present is of particular importance to Jewish families who otherwise do not follow the Sabbath commandments according to the letter of the law, but who do not want to give up the tradition of clearly marking the transition from weekday to holiday.

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soul_food_saltThe salt

Salt has an important symbolic role in Jewish life. During the Temple epoch all the offerings that were presented there were first salted. According to tradition, part of each offering in the Temple belonged to the priests who were serving there. The salt helped to conserve the offerings, particularly the meat. Since the destruction of the Temple, synagogue services have replaced the sacrificial offerings while the dining table has come to play something of a symbolic role as a replacement for the altar in the Temple. Sprinkling salt on the bread thus reminds us of the Temple.

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Purim

soul_food_purimPurim is celebrated in memory of the miraculous deliverance of the Persian Jews from annihilation by Haman. According to history this took place during the 5th century BCE when Esther’s courageous actions saved her people from extinction. This story is detailed in the Biblical book of Esther.

An important Purim tradition is giving gifts of food to friends and acquaintances. This is known as mishloach manot, which roughly corresponds to “consignment of portions”.

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soul_food_matzaPesach – Passover

There was a time when the Jewish people, the Israelites, were slaves. The Bible describes how, against all the odds but with God’s help, the Israelites escaped from captivity. The experience of slavery taught them something fundamental – that to be a person one needs to be free.

The Bible tells us that God did not allow his people to remain slaves. By afflicting Egypt with ten plagues God forced Pharaoh to let the Jews leave the country – and become free.

The Bible also tells us that on the night when the Israelites were to leave Egypt they were in such a hurry that the dough for tomorrow’s bread did not have time to rise and so the bread remained unleavened.

There are four places in the Bible where the Israelites are commanded by God to celebrate Passover: “And on that day you will explain to your son. ‘This is because of what God did for me when I came out of Egypt’” (Exodus 13:8). The reading for the Seder meal, the first meal of Passover, is taken from a book called haggada which includes narratives on the departure from Egypt – on the journey from slavery to freedom.

In the middle of the table is the large Seder dish which contains all of the Seder symbols – a physical illustration of the haggada.

Passover is celebrated for a week. During this week observant Jews refrain from eating bread and anything that contains cereals. This has led to the development of numerous dishes made without cereals that have become typical Passover food.

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Chanuka

soul_food_channukaChanuka betyder invigning. Denna firas till minne av mackabéernas uppror mot grekerna, som förbjudit judarna att utöva sin religion. Upproret ledde till att förtryckarna besegrades och att det vanhelgade templet kunde återinvigas (år 164 fvt). Festen firas under åtta dagar med början den 25 kislev. Enligt den rabbinska legenden skulle man vid återinvigningen tända den sjuarmade ljusstaken i templet. Man fann då en liten kanna med olja som endast beräknades räcka en dag, men ett under skedde, och oljan brann i åtta dagar, lika lång tid som det tog att skaffa ny olja. Man högtidlighåller än i dag återinvigningen av templet genom att man varje kväll under åtta dagar tänder ljus i en åttaarmad ljusstake, en chanukia.

Enligt traditionen samlas man under chanuka kring spel med snurra, en dreidel (jiddisch)/ sevivon (hebreiska). På chanuka äter man också gärna friterad mat, och då alldeles speciellt en rätt som på jiddisch kallas latkes – rårakor stekta i olja. Dessutom serveras ett annat måste, nämligen nyfriterade munkar.

Enligt traditionen samlas man under chanuka kring spel med snurra, en dreidel (jiddisch)/ sevivon (hebreiska). På chanuka äter man också gärna friterad mat, och då alldeles speciellt en rätt som på jiddisch kallas latkes – rårakor stekta i olja. Dessutom serveras ett annat måste, nämligen nyfriterade munkar.

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Walking through the exhibition:

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