Cook­book

Feed­ing Women of the Tal­mud, Feed­ing Ourselves

  • Review
By – December 19, 2022

More than a cook­book, more than a study guide, the Jew­ish Food Hero’s Feed­ing Women of the Tal­mud, Feed­ing Our­selves is a tes­ta­ment to the pow­er of spir­i­tu­al com­mu­ni­ty. Fea­tur­ing schol­ar­ship and recipes from over 120 women around the world, Kenden Alfond’s col­lec­tion show­cas­es the diver­si­ty and depth of Jew­ish learn­ing and experience.

By bring­ing togeth­er and high­light­ing so many Jew­ish voic­es, Alfond pro­vides read­ers with a unique jour­ney of dis­cov­ery. Writ­ers from every con­ti­nent chal­lenge read­ers to thought­ful­ly exam­ine Jew­ish texts and their con­nec­tion with food. Rais­ing con­scious­ness about how women were por­trayed in the Tal­mud two thou­sand years ago, and bridg­ing these teach­ings with con­tem­po­rary retellings and under­stand­ings, opens new avenues and encour­ages greater cre­ativ­i­ty in Jew­ish text study.

The texts and accom­pa­ny­ing recipes don’t seem to be in any order, a fact that allows read­ers the free­dom to focus on their read­ing pref­er­ences but makes the book more dif­fi­cult to nav­i­gate over­all. There is also a large range of exper­tise that read­ers would need to bring to the book; some texts and recipes are very straight­for­ward, while oth­ers seem to rely more on pri­or knowl­edge. The result is a col­lec­tion of authen­tic learn­ing mate­ri­als, com­plete with sketch­es of each con­trib­u­tor, that many read­ers may need extra sup­port to ful­ly appreciate.

Note­wor­thy, too, is that each recipe is veg­an, bol­ster­ing Alfond’s point that Jew­ish study and com­mu­ni­ty can nur­ture us spir­i­tu­al­ly and phys­i­cal­ly and make us more con­scious stew­ards of our envi­ron­ment. This inter­con­nect­ed­ness — of Jew­ish women, study, and food from every cor­ner of the globe — is the back­bone of the book. Hope­ful­ly read­ers will fol­low its teach­ings for years to come.

Deb­o­rah Miller received rab­bini­cal ordi­na­tion at the Jew­ish The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary. She lives in New Jer­sey with her hus­band and daugh­ter, where she serves as a hos­pice chap­lain and teacher.

Discussion Questions