Brain Food

In partnership with the Jewish Book Council, we aim to bring something extra to your Shabbat dinner table.

Jewish Book Council enriches and educates the Jewish community through Jewish literature.  JBC provides tools for substantive conversations about Jewish life and identity. You can find out more at, and join the conversation on Instagram and Facebook.

“Three possessions should you prize: a field, a friend, and a book.”
– R. Hai ben Sherira, ca. 998 CE.

The Jews have long been known as a “people of the book,” a reference to the centrality of Torah to the Abrahamic faiths. For your next Shabbat dinner, we invite you to let your table be your field, and gather with friends and a good book.

Our Current Books that Nourish

Sephardi: Cooking the History by Hélène Jawhara Piñer

In this extraordinary cookbook, chef and scholar Hélène Jawhara-Piñer combines rich culinary history and Jewish heritage. Steeped in the history of the Sephardic Jews (Jews of Spain) and their diaspora, these recipes are expertly collected from such diverse sources as medieval cookbooks, Inquisition trials, medical treatises, poems, and literature. Original sources ranging from the thirteenth century onwards and written in Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Occitan, Italian, and Hebrew, are here presented in English translation, bearing witness to the culinary diversity of the Sephardim, who brought their cuisine with them and kept it alive wherever they went. Jawhara-Piñer provides enlightening commentary for each recipe, revealing underlying societal issues from anti-Semitism to social order. In addition, the author provides several of her own recipes inspired by her research and academic studies.

A Fistful of Lentils by Jennifer Felicia Abadi

“This is a cookbook about my family’s stories, history and cooking from Aleppo, Syria. Quotes and stories are interwoven throughout the recipes, along with line drawings. There is as much to read as there are recipes to cook from! I embarked upon this cookbook project to record all of the delicious Syrian dishes that I had grown up with and was afraid would be lost over time. In the 1970s, my mother Annette and my Aunt Essie first decided to collect my great-grandmother Esther’s recipes. Carefully observing her in the kitchen and eking out as many Old World secrets as they could, they gathered a substantial number of recipes, resulting in a three-ring binder that provided us with many successful Syrian dinner parties. Thirty years later I picked up from where they left off, cooking alongside my own grandmother Fritzie, translating her “handfuls of this” and “pinchfuls of that” into standard measurements for others to follow.”

Jew-ish: A Cookbook: Reinvented Recipes from a Modern Mensch by Jake Cohen

When you think of Jewish food, a few classics may come to mind: chicken soup with matzo balls, challah, maybe a babka if you’re feeling adventurous. But as food writer and nice Jewish boy Jake Cohen demonstrates in this stunning debut cookbook, Jewish food can be so much more. In Jew-ish, he reinvents the food of his Ashkenazi heritage and draws inspiration from his husband’s Persian-Iraqi traditions to offer recipes that are modern, fresh, and enticing for a whole new generation of readers.

The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty

Twitty is a Black Jewish writer, culinary historian, and educator. In this James Beard Foundation Book of the Year, Twitty offers a fresh perspective on our most divisive cultural issue, race, in this illuminating memoir of Southern cuisine and food culture that traces his ancestry–both black and white–through food, from Africa to America and slavery to freedom.

Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor by Yossi Klein Halevi

This is the first attempt by an Israeli author to directly address his Palestinian neighbors and describe how the conflict appears through Israeli eyes…Halevi’s letters speak not only to his Palestinian neighbor but to all concerned global citizens, helping us understand the painful choices confronting Israelis and Palestinians that will ultimately help determine the fate of the region.

How to Get these Books

A quick note:You must have already posted your dinner in order to successfully request books.

Create your dinner and select your Nourishment Credits:

  • All of these books are available as a Nourishment Option for your Shabbat! Simply fill out how many of them you want on the selection screen.
  • Then fill out a simple form indicating where we should send them, if relevent. Cookbooks can be mailed to recipients. Other books will be sent digitally.
  • Get to reading!

Some of the Previous Books We've Offered