The remarkable story of a black African from a royal lineage in Swaziland who was raised a Christian, converted to Judaism and became a Haredi Litvish Rabbi in Israel. It begins with Rabbi Natan Gamedze’s first visit home in 16 years and traces back his extraordinary spiritual journey from Swaziland to Israel. By following Rabbi Gamedze’s journey to Judaism, this story provides an extraordinary insight into orthodox Jewish thinking from a completely different background. Along the way it gently explores race issues, pre and post apartheid.

Additional information:

Who Counts? Race and the Jewish Future

Ilana Kaufman, Program Officer, Jewish Community Federation and Endowment, Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco
When Jews count themselves, it matters. So who really counts? Ilana Kaufman issues a challenge to the Jewish community on race.

Racism in the Jewish Community: The Uncomfortable Truth via ELItalks

David Baliaba, a prominent member of the Jewish community in Cameroon, performing Hatikvah. David composes music for the prayer services in Cameroon, and is a professional musician and performer.


From Canada to the Judean Hills, from Christianity to Judaism

Azriel Dror from Canada converted to Judaism from Christianity and made aliyah because Israel is “where every Jew needs to be.”
Arutz Sheva continues its series of interviews with some of the 221 olim who arrived in Israel on a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight this week.

One of the new olim on the flight was Azriel Dror, 35, who converted to Judaism from Christianity. Dror, along with his wife and five children, made aliyah from Thornhill, Ontario, Canada (a suburb of Toronto) to Susya, a religious community located in the southern Judean Hills area.

“Israel has always been in my heart and in my mind,” Dror said as the flight made its way to Tel Aviv. “The Torah says that Israel is where we should be. You see prophecy happening all the time, and Hashem has put in my heart and in my wife’s heart to go back to the Land of Israel, where every Jew needs to be.”

Dror recalled how he surprised his son, who attended yeshiva in Israel this past year, by arriving in Israel for a visit. The two toured the country from the south to the north and “I fell in love. My soul just came alive. I said, ‘This is where I need to be. This is where I need to live. Every Jew needs to live there.’”

“I still have to pinch myself that I’m here. Hashem, you made this possible. I thank G-d for his miracles. I thank G-d for catching this flight, and I thank G-d for when I land, that I can kiss the ground,” he said.
Originally posted HERE

A Kaleidoscope Of Jewish Identity By Sharon Anstey


Ahuva in “Kaleidoscope.” Jonathan Pillot.

Cuban, Moroccan, Turkish, Libyan, Israeli, Puerto Rican, British and American influences swirl through the very Jewish stories presented in Vanessa Hidary’s “Kaleidoscope” at the 14th St Y.

Hidary, the actress, solo performer, poet and director known as the “Hebrew Mamita,” and her cast of 4 men and 8 women explore what it means to be Jewish through multiple, shifting lenses. Their compelling monologues in English with notes of French, Hebrew, English, Spanish, Ladino, Amharic and Turkish, highlight pride and joy as well as discomfort with inequalities and, for many, the bittersweet moments when grandparents and grandchildren cannot communicate easily.

Avi Amon — white, male, Jewish, Turkish, Sephardi, American — articulates the fundamental dilemma: How can we check any one box on a survey form? No one box can capture all that we are. We are forced to “shape shift.”

Raised an Episcopalian in the Bronx, Malaika Martin converted to Judaism and lived in Israel for many years. She thinks she was the only black in Beersheva in the 90s and later reigned as the “Black Queen Bee” of Tel Aviv, dispatching any competitors with contempt — to Jerusalem.

Another performer, who goes by the name Ahuva, grew up in the Ethiopian community in Ashdod and recalls that the Ethiopians walked at night and hid by day during their long journey to Israel. Her pride in Israel and having served in the IDF is evident. At the same time, her fury at the derogatory “Cushi” being hurled at members of her community is palpable.

A common thread among these monologues was “don’t tell me how to be Jewish.” As Corey Hennig who closes the evening said, as a Black and as a Jew, “the nice Jewish boy with a little more flavor,” he feels caught in the crossfire too often.

On a personal note, I witnessed a close friend grapple with this question for a long time. She was a black South African, drawn strongly to Judaism. Rabbis here in New York were willing to convert her but counseled against it as she was planning to return to South Africa — they felt that her Jewishness might be hard for her family there to digest. She lived as a Jew but died a Christian.

“Kaleidoscope” opened on Wednesday evening to an enthusiastic reception and the final performance at the 14th St Y is July 19th.

Originally published HERE.

“The duty of the survivor is to bear testimony to what happened … You have to warn people that these things can happen, that evil can be unleashed. Race hatred, violence, idolatries — they still flourish.” — Elie Wiesel

The United States Congress established the Days of Remembrance as the nation’s annual commemoration of the Holocaust and created the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a permanent living memorial to the victims. Days of Remembrance 2015 Events

The Blessing of the Yellow Candle

We light the yellow candle to rekindle God’s flame,
to shine His light upon the world once again,
to sanctify the memories of millions of souls,
to honor their prayers and all their lost goals,
we bless their existence by being alive,
to light this yellow candle as proof we survived.
~By Ron Adler

“Who Am I To Speak Of A Time?”

Who am I to speak of a time,
of families crushed, of crimes of mankind,
of children in hiding and living in fear,
of mothers trying to hide all their tears,
of fathers praying to an empty heaven,
of people dying again and again?

Who am I to know what it was like
to be persecuted by day and trapped by the night,
to be surrounded by a world turned upside down,
to be starved and tortured and beaten to the ground,
to witness a nation of hate marching past,
to see all their dreams broken and shattered like glass?

Who am I to mention their suffering and pain,
the ghettos, the camps, life and death inhumane?
I wasn’t even born, I wasn’t even there,
it happened long ago, it could never happen here.

Who am I to know what God had in mind
when the virtues of man were buried alive,
when good lost to evil and hope turned to despair,
when hell upon earth seemed everywhere?

Who am I to let their memories be forgotten,
to say and do nothing as if it never happened,
to forsake the loss of our Jewish family,
to live in a world of complacency?

1.5 million innocent children perished in the Holocaust. In an effort to remember them, Holocaust Museum Houston is collecting 1.5 million handmade butterflies. The butterflies will eventually comprise a breath-taking exhibition, currently scheduled for Spring 2013, for all to remember. Learn how you can help at http://www.hmh.org/ed_butterfly1.shtml.

Sam Glaser • A Million Butterflies, about the children of the Holocaust

Educator Leon Bass, January 23, 1935 – March 28, 2015. Former Principal of Benjamin Franklin High School, Philadelphia, PA witnessed Buchenwald concentration camp shortly after its liberation. Read Article: Leon Bass, 90, educator forever changed by the Holocaust

American troops, including African American soldiers from the Headquarters and Service Company of the 183rd Engineer Combat Battalion, 8th Corps, U.S. 3rd Army, view corpses stacked behind the crematorium during an inspection tour of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Among those pictured is Leon Bass (the soldier third from left). Buchenwald, Germany, April 17, 1945.

At the rising of the sun and at its going down
We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter
We remember them.
At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring
We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer
We remember them.
At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn
We remember them.
At the beginning of the year and when it ends
We remember them.
As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us
as we remember them.

Ani Ma’amin by Lynette, Ben Sidran: Life’s a Lesson

Blacks During the Holocaust

The fate of black people from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder.

Two survivors prepare food outside the barracks. On the right is presumably Jean (Johnny) Voste, born in Belgian Congo, was the only black prisoner in Dachau.

There but for the grace of God, go I…
Remember the Afro-German Rhineland Children

Underscoring Hitler’s obsession with racial purity, by 1937, every identified mixed-race child in the Rhineland had been forcibly sterilized, in order to prevent further “race polluting”, as Hitler termed it.

Blacks During the Holocaust

The fate of black people from 1933 to 1945 in Nazi Germany and in German-occupied territories ranged from isolation to persecution, sterilization, medical experimentation, incarceration, brutality, and murder. However, there was no systematic program for their elimination as there was for Jews and other groups.

If you are like most people, you simply have never heard the unbelievable story of Black victims of the Holocaust. You are invited to read about the human spirit’s triump over events that occurred during this horrible piece of hidden history.

After World War I, the Allies stripped Germany of its African colonies. The German military stationed in Africa (Schutztruppen), as well as missionaries, colonial bureaucrats, and settlers, returned to Germany and took with them their racist attitudes. Separation of whites and blacks was mandated by the Reichstag (German parliament), which enacted a law against mixed marriages in the African colonies.

Following World War I and the Treaty of Versailles (1919), the victorious Allies occupied the Rhineland in western Germany. The use of French colonial troops, some of whom were black, in these occupation forces exacerbated anti-black racism in Germany. Racist propaganda against black soldiers depicted them as rapists of German women and carriers of venereal and other diseases. The children of black soldiers and German women were called “Rhineland Bastards.” The Nazis, at the time a small political movement, viewed them as a threat to the purity of the Germanic race. In Mein Kampf (My Struggle), Hitler charged that “the Jews had brought the Negroes into the Rhineland with the clear aim of ruining the hated white race by the necessarily-resulting bastardization.”

African German mulatto children were marginalized in German society, isolated socially and economically, and not allowed to attend university. Racial discrimination prohibited them from seeking most jobs, including service in the military. With the Nazi rise to power they became a target of racial and population policy. By 1937, the Gestapo (German secret state police) had secretly rounded up and forcibly sterilized many of them. Some were subjected to medical experiments; others mysteriously “disappeared.”

The racist nature of Adolf Hitler’s regime was disguised briefly during the Olympic Games in Berlin in August 1936, when Hitler allowed 18 African American athletes to compete for the U.S. team. However, permission to compete was granted by the International Olympic Committee and not by the host country.

Adult African Germans were also victims. Both before and after World War I, many Africans came to Germany as students, artisans, entertainers, former soldiers, or low-level colonial officials, such as tax collectors, who had worked for the imperial colonial government. Hilarius (Lari) Gilges, a dancer by profession, was murdered by the SS in 1933, probably because he was black. Gilges’ German wife later received restitution from a postwar German government for his murder by the Nazis.

Some African Americans, caught in German-occupied Europe during World War II, also became victims of the Nazi regime. Many, like female jazz artist Valaida Snow, were imprisoned in Axis internment camps for alien nationals. The artist Josef Nassy, living in Belgium, was arrested as an enemy alien and held for seven months in the Beverloo transit camp in German-occupied Belgium. He was later transferred to Germany, where he spent the rest of the war in the Laufen internment camp and its subcamp, Tittmoning, both in Upper Bavaria.

European and American blacks were also interned in the Nazi concentration camp system. Lionel Romney, a sailor in the U.S. Merchant Marine, was imprisoned in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Jean Marcel Nicolas, a Haitian national, was incarcerated in the Buchenwald and Dora-Mittelbau concentration camps in Germany. Jean Voste, an African Belgian, was incarcerated in the Dachau concentration camp. Bayume Mohamed Hussein from Tanganyika (today Tanzania) died in the Sachsenhausen camp, near Berlin.

Black prisoners of war faced illegal incarceration and mistreatment at the hands of the Nazis, who did not uphold the regulations imposed by the Geneva Convention (international agreement on the conduct of war and the treatment of wounded and captured soldiers). Lieutenant Darwin Nichols, an African American pilot, was incarcerated in a Gestapo prison in Butzbach. Black soldiers of the American, French, and British armies were worked to death on construction projects or died as a result of mistreatment in concentration or prisoner-of-war camps. Others were never even incarcerated, but were instead immediately killed by the SS or Gestapo.

Some African American members of the U.S. Armed forces were liberators and witnesses to Nazi atrocities. The 761st Tank Battalion (an all-African American tank unit), attached to the 71st Infantry Division, U.S. Third Army, under the command of General George Patton, participated in the liberation of Gunskirchen, a subcamp of the Mauthausen concentration camp, in May 1945.

NEVER AGAIN must remain more than a mere slogan



Rabbi Rigoberto Emmanuel Viñas and his wife Sandra Viñas are a newly wed Cuban and Dominican couple that put a latin twist on some of the traditional Jewish dishes for the holiday. Rabbi Rigoberto Emmanuel and Sandra Viñas are photographed with some of the symbolic foods they will eat for Rosh Hashanah, Sept. 12, 2014 in their Yonkers home.(Photo: Tania Savayan/The Journal News)

During Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, food is as central to the celebration as prayer. But the kosher meal on the table of one Yonkers family will have a unique flavor: Latin.

Sephardic Rabbi Rigoberto Emmanuel “Manny” Viñas and his wife, Sandra Nuñez Viñas, have planned a menu that includes Pan de Calabaza (pumpkin bread), Keftes de Prasa (leek and scallion croquettes), Lubiya (black eyed peas) and La Sopa de las Siete Verduras (seven vegetable soup with stew meat).

“My wife, Sandra, is Dominican, so we jokingly call her Jew-minican,” he laughs. “She has a challah recipe, and she’ll put coconut oil instead of regular oil. That will add a little bit of sweetness so that it will be a sweet year.”

As the founder and director of El Centro de Estudios Judíos “Torat Emet,” a Spanish-language Jewish education and spirituality center for Latin American Jews living in the New York area, Rabbi Viñas has a growing contingent of followers. The internet broadcasts of his lectures have brought an international audience to the Spanish Torah.

“It’s Judaism with a little Latin flavor,” says Viñas.

For the coming Rosh Hashana celebration, he and his wife will be joined in by more than 20 members of the Lincoln Park Jewish Center for a traditional meal, and plenty of song, stories and wine.

“We’ll probably have five languages at the table,” he says.

Working with his mother’s original recipes, saved on a handwritten and wine-stained paper from years of use, they will prepare a kosher meal that features some typical items found in Latin cooking, like coconut oil and fried plantains.

“My family left Cuba and I grew up in Miami, and attended primarily Spanish speaking synagogues,” says Viñas. “She sent me these recipes when I moved to New York.”

Each prayer — said in both Aramaic and Ladino, sometimes called Judeo-Spanish — will be accompanied by a dish that signifies desires for the new year, such as black-eyed peas for prosperity or fish for fertility. And guests will enjoy Yarden Mount Hermon red wine from Golan Heights in Israel with the main course. “It pairs really well with the seven vegetable stew.”

“The pomegranate has 613 seeds, so in eating it you’re saying ‘I should have as much prosperity as I have seeds’,” Viñas explains. “And eating it brings the prayer to completion.”

Twitter: @megmccaff15

Rabbi Viñas is the founder and director of El Centro de Estudios Judíos “Torat Emet,” a Spanish-language Jewish education and spirituality center for Latin-American Jews living in the New York area. Visit lpjc.org for more information.
(originally posted here.)

“Shalom, Mirembe!”

The Abayudaya Jewish Community of Uganda and Israeli artist Irene Orleansky partnered to create “Shalom, Mirembe!” as part of a music collection from Israelites and Jews of Africa and Asia. For more information and to purchase the CD visit www.ireneorleanskyo.com The participating Jewish communities receive all proceeds from CD sales.

Lead singers – Irene Orleansky, J.J. Keki, and Rachman Nagwere
Dance – Hope Cultural Troupe
Drums – Jerry Marotta
Mix – Kirill Malahov at Music Brothers Records
Mastering – Donal Whelan at Mastering World Studios
Video – Hannah Nemer

Back vocals — Rachel Nagudi, Irene Orleansky, David Kababala, Rachman Nagwere, J.J. Keki
Stick — Irene Orleansky
Xylophone — Sula Gidenyi, Ali Walufu
African drums — Amram Kadosi, Joshua Adjah Anang,
African percussion – Joshua Adjah Anang, Irene Orleansky

New CD Release: Music of Israelites and Jews of Africa and Asia

3869086_origThe CD Music of Israelites and Jews of Africa and Asia is the result of Irene Orleansky’s  fascinating two-year journey through Africa and Asia. Equipped with a mobile studio, Irene visited nine Israelite and Jewish communities sometimes at distant and dangerous places to record music with the communities’ artists.

The story of the lost tribes started in the 7th century BC in the lands of Aramea and the Kingdom of Israel when the Assyrians invaded the Northern lands and deported ten Israelite tribes of the Northern Kingdom, thus starting the longest exile in the history of mankind. For many centuries those tribes were considered lost, until the last centuries, when technological developments in transport and communication revealed what had been previously hidden.

wj_africa-matzah2_042508The Ethiopian Jews of the tribe of Dan made an epic return when Israel airlifted them in Operation Moses in 1984 and Operation Solomon in 1991; Bene Israel of India, supposedly of the tribe of Zebulon, returned to Israel between 1948 and 1969. Right now thousands of Bnei Menashe are coming back home from North-Eastern India and Burma. Still there are thousands of descendants of the lost tribes of Israel who remain in the lands of their exile and thousands more to be rediscovered yet. In her journey, Irene was privileged to witness and actively participate in fulfilling the Biblical prophecy, the return of the lost tribes of Israel,  and to discover unique  music and culture of her long lost brothers and sisters.

While traveling, Irene saw hardship, poverty and discrimination that many of the Jewish communities in Africa and Asia encounter in their daily lives, and decided to turn it into a charity project to raise funds to support those communities in need.

All the money earned from the sales of the album will be spread among the communities to support their music and arts. By buying the CD, you are supporting the Jewish and Israelite communities in Africa and Asia. PURCHASE HERE!

Julius Lester – African American Jewish Author, Poet, Photographer, Musician, Songwriter, Activist & More

Julius Lester celebrity rompJulius Lester was born January 27, 1939 in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of a Methodist minister. Lester spent much of his childhood in Missouri, where in the 1940s and 1950s he dealt with southern attitudes about race and segregation before and during the Civil Rights movement. In 1960 Lester graduated from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee with a degree in English.

He then became politically active in the Civil Rights movement, going to Mississippi in 1964 as part of the movement called the Mississippi Summer Project. Lester then began working full time for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) as head of its photography department in Atlanta, Georgia. SNCC was the most outspoken of civil rights groups at the time, and in the summer of 1966 coined the phrase black power, a cry millions of blacks across the United States responded to and adapted as their own.

ffslesterjLester’s writing career began in 1967 when a publisher read his essay The Angry Children of Malcolm X, and offered him a contract to develop it into a book. The book, titled Look Out, Whitey! Black Power’s Gonna’ Get Your Mama, was published in 1968, and would be the first book to explain the term black power and place it in the context of African American history.

Since 1968 Lester has published thirty-four books, including non-fiction, children’s books, poetry, and novels. Among the awards these books have received are the Newbery Honor Medal, the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award, National Book Award Finalist, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Honor Book, and New York Times Outstanding Book. His books have also been translated into eight languages.

As a child Lester learned that his maternal great-grandfather was a German Jew named Adolph Altschul who had immigrated from Germany sometime before the Civil War. He met a fair-skinned ex-slave named Maggie Carson and they had six children together one of whom was Lester’s grandmother. This knowledge became one motivating factor in Lester’s conversion to Judaism in 1982, prompting him to adopt the Hebrew name, Yaakov Daniel ben Avraham v’Sarah.

Lester joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1971 as a professor of African American Studies. In 1988 he joined the Judaic and Near Eastern Studies Department and taught courses there and in the English and History departments until his retirement in January 2004. During his years at the University of Massachusetts Lester became the only faculty member to be awarded all three of the University’s most prestigious faculty awards: The Distinguished Teacher’s Award, the Faculty Fellowship Award for Distinguished Research and Scholarship, and the Chancellor’s Medal, the University’s highest honor. The Council for Advancement and Support of Education selected Lester as the Massachusetts State Professor of the Year in 1988.

From 1991 until 2001 Lester served as lay religious leader of Beth El Synagogue in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. He currently lives in a small town in western Massachusetts with his wife.

Storytelling: A Way to Know Ourselves

Black Folktales by Julius Lester


Twelve remarkable folktales, culled from the black experience in Africa and America, are freshly retold in the thoroughly original voice of Julius Lester. Arranged by topic — Origins, Love, Heroes, and People — the tales combine universal themes and uncanny wisdom. Though some of these stories have been around for centuries and many were passed down by slaves, Julius Lester’s urban expressiveness and Tom Feeling’s spirited illustrations give them continued resonance for today’s audience.

Lovesong: Becoming a Jew by Julius Lester


NOT THE FACE IN THE MIRROR: An Interview with Julius Lester (2007)

The African American Experience: Writers of Multicultural Fiction for Young Adults: Julius Lester

Black and Jewish, Searching For A Home (2011)
Lian Amaris’ “Daddy’s Black and Jewish” explores the impact her adoptive father, Julius Lester, has had on her identity.

Kol Nidre ~ All Vows

Audio CD: Good Night Dear Lord, Kol Nidre, Johnny Mathis

Kol Nidre: Ve’esarei, Ush’vuei, Vacharamei, Vekonamei, Vekinusei, Vechinuyei.
D’indarna, Ud’ishtabana, Ud’acharimna, Ud’assarna Al nafshatana
Miyom Kippurim zeh, ad Yom Kippurim haba aleinu letovah
Bechulhon Icharatna vehon, Kulhon yehon sharan
Sh’vikin sh’vitin, betelin umevutalin, lo sheririn v’lo kayamin
Nidrana lo nidrei, V’essarana lo essarei
Ush’vuatana lo shevuot.

All Vows, prohibitions, oaths, consecrations, vows that we may vow, swear, consecrate, or prohibit upon ourselves- from this Yom Kippur until the next Yom Kippur, may it come upon us for good – regarding them all, we regret them henceforth. They will all be permitted, abandoned, cancelled, null and void, without power and without standing. Our vows shall not be valid vows; our prohibitions shall not be valid prohibitions; and our oaths shall not be valid oaths.

Kol Nidrei, meaning “All Vows,” are the opening words of a declaration recited by the prayer leader in the synagogue at the commencement of the Yom Kippur evening service. It states that all kinds of vows made before God unwittingly or rashly during the year (and hence not fulfilled) shall be considered null and void. Kol Nidrei, a very old declaration, is recited in Aramaic is recited in most congregations three times, and in Aramaic. During its recitation the ark is opened and two Torah scrolls are removed, one held on each side of the prayer leader.

Kol Nidre has an interesting history. It was composed during the sixth century when the Visagoth king of Spain ordered Jews to convert on pain of death. Kol Nidre was initially the anguished cry of those forced to commit apostasy. Thereafter, Spanish Jews sang it when they gathered in secret to celebrate Yom Kippur, as they did in the ninth century under Byzantine persecution, and again during the papal and Spanish inquisitions of thirteenth and fifteenth centuries.

The intense emotion and spiritual energy that can be generated by a Yom Kippur eve Kol Nidrei service is demonstrated by the story of the German Jewish philosopher, Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929). Franz Rosensweig was a young Jewish philosopher in Germany before WW I. In order to receive an appointment at one of Germany’s most prestigious Universities, Rosensweig decided he would convert to Christianity. Religion in general, and Judaism in particular, held little interest for him. It served only to impede his professional advancement.

As the story goes, he was out for a stroll on the eve of his conversion to Christianity when he passed by a synagogue. It was Erev Yom Kippur and as he passed by the synagogue, he could hear the chant of Kol Nidre. He was riveted to the spot, unable to move. By the time the cantor reached the prayer’s conclusion, Rosensweig knew in his heart that he could never leave Judaism.

Hear Musical Traditions from East to West.

Days of Awe: An Idelsohn Society High Holidays 2010 Mixtape, and the release of Black Sabbath, the first compilation ever to showcase legendary African-American artists singing Jewish songs.

Johnny Mathis discusses singing Kol Nidre

Kol Nidre~ All Vows
Link: Musical Traditions From East to West

Yom Kippur is the only fast day decreed in the Bible. Abstaining from the pleasure of food is meant to improve one’s ability to focus on repentance. The Yom Kippur fast is a 24-hour fast that begins before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ends after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur.

~ May You Have An Easy Fast ~

And when you’re ready to break your fast, here’s a recipe for a delicious treat. You’ll want to use this recipe over and over again.

KUGEL is a famous Jewish dish, made especially by the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe. The word is Yiddish for ball, but it is sometimes translated as pudding or casserole, and related to the German Gugelhupf. Evidence exists that the dish was made over 800 years ago, though it has gradually been modified and improved upon over time. Many are used to thinking of kugel as a dessert, and you will certainly find lots of kugel dessert recipes. It can also be made as an unsweet savory side dish or entrée using different types of cheeses, mushrooms, etc. Kugels are a mainstay of festive meals in Ashkenazi Jewish (Jews of Eastern European descent) homes, particularly on the Jewish Sabbath and other Jewish holidays.


Sweet “Light and Fluffy” Kugel
16 oz Wide Egg Noodles
2-8oz bars of cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 pint sour cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (optional-gives a slight marzipan flavor)
6 eggs
1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 cup raisins or my preference – golden raisins (optional)

Cook noodles following package instructions. Drain & set aside. In a (very) large bowl mix together all ingredients until cream cheese resembles cottage cheese. Add noodles. Mix well. Oil spray 9×13 inch pan or one of your choosing and pour in mixture. (Optional-sprinkle top lightly with cinnamon.) Bake @ 350 degrees F for at least one hour or until lightly golden brown and firm in the center.

I usually freeze 1/2 of the kugel for later use. I don’t know if it’s the same for you, but the last thing I need to do is gain additional pounds from nibbling on the luscious thing all week until it’s all gone. It can be prepared weeks in advance, baked, and frozen. It need not be thawed before going straight into a 350 degree oven for an hour. I recommend covering it with foil before re-heating it in the oven.

May all of us be listened to & embraced & welcomed & supported in the coming year!

ethiopian jewish mother and child

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