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Teaching Jewish Studies through Food Studies

Mon, December 16, 3:30 to 5:00pm, Hilton Bayfront San Diego, Sapphire 411B

Session Submission Type: Roundtable

Abstract

This roundtable examines how food studies may be integrated into a variety of Jewish studies courses. The scholars in this session are experts in different areas in Jewish studies: rabbinic literature, European Jewish history, American Jewish history and popular culture, and modern Middle Eastern Jewish studies. They have each used food studies to help convey other issues, including rabbinic legal methodology, memory and identity, community formation, migration and integration, and economic life. They offer practical suggestions for constructing assignments and designing classroom experiences, and they describe the pedagogical and theoretical goals these achieve. Recognizing that food is a topic that undergraduates regard as “fun” and attractive, the instructors discuss how they encourage students take foodways seriously by understanding how they indicate larger cultural, political, and economic developments.
Participants will discuss: What insights does food give us into elements of Judaism, Jewish practice, and Jewish memory? How does food highlight intra-Jewish divisions and tensions over religious authority? How might teaching about food choices and symbolic meanings highlight issues of Jewish communal boundaries? How does food reveal aspects of Jews’ interaction with non-Jews? How might teaching about changes in Jewish food production show the political and economic forces shaping Jewish leadership and communal life? How does food help us better understand the experience of Jewish immigrants and the experience of immigration and assimilation/integration more broadly? How does teaching about food help include historical actors/groups that would otherwise be omitted or less emphasized?
Ari Ariel (University of Iowa) focuses on Middle Eastern Jewish immigrants in Israel and the place of Middle Eastern foods in the development of an Israeli cuisine. Rachel B. Gross (San Francisco State University) suggests ways of teaching American Jewish foodways in American Jewish history courses and American Jewish popular culture courses. Jody Myers (California State University, Northridge) illustrates why and how to incorporate Jewish foodways into medieval and modern Jewish history courses. Jordan D. Rosenblum (University of Wisconsin Madison) discusses using texts about drinks and drinking to teach rabbinic literature. Jessica Kirzane (University of Chicago, editor-in-chief of IN GEVEB: A JOURNAL OF YIDDISH STUDIES) will moderate the roundtable.

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