Food as a vessel of culture, memory, history at Shabbat dinner
By Analucia Lopezrevoredo, OneTable’s Former West Coast Senior Regional Manager, and Maya Shemtov, JIMENA’s Former San Francisco Program Coordinator
An Arabic proverb teaches that the key to one’s heart is through the stomach. This proverb speaks of the intense power of food to connect. For many of us, our cultural foods act as a vessel linking us to our cultural memory, as a daily ritual passed on from one generation to the next, preserving and shaping identity and narratives of home. This is even more pronounced in moments of displacement, when home shifts to a place of memory, and cooking family recipes shifts from a daily ritual to a nostalgic space unique to the dinner tables of family or immigrant communities.
OneTable’s mission to empower young adults to create their own Friday night dinner experiences has led many hosts to connect to their Jewish roots, as well as to discover the flavors of the greater Jewish diaspora. Over the years, many OneTable hosts have held Mizrahi and Sephardi-inspired themed nights that have introduced their guests to Jewish cultures from the Middle East, North Africa and Iran, to name a few. Loving what we’ve seen transpire, and honoring our commitment to the full inclusion of all Jewish communities, we are excited to announce that we are partnering with San Francisco-based nonprofit JIMENA: Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, to create more spaces for people to share their culture with the community.
In Israel, November 30th has been designated as an annual, national day of commemoration for Jewish refugees displaced from the Middle East and North Africa in the 20th century. In the United States, JIMENA is at the forefront of preserving and sharing Mizrahi and Sephardi culture through traditional celebrations, festivals, lectures, and cultural series, as well as upholding the Day of Commemoration in the Diaspora. OneTable and JIMENA want to empower you to create your own experience while taking the opportunity to honor and explore Mizrahi and Sephardi food, history and culture. If you’re interested in a Global Shabbat toolkit, check it out. Below are some recipes to help you bring this opportunity and create a space for sharing memories, stories, and recipes with your family and friends.