“I love that line about taking the spoon from the milchig drawer. I think that is such a great connection and grounds us in the Jewishness of Lydia’s life now. But it’s also a reminder of the ways that Judaism and Jewish tradition grows because non-Jews join the Jewish family and become Jews.”
In this installment of “Speaking Torah,” Lydia Kukoff gives us a tasty essay, stuffed with the power of food and cooking in invoking memory, history, family and love. Lydia is a member of the Hebrew College Board of Trustees and created the Reform Movement’s outreach program, the Jewish community’s first national program for intermarried couples and Jews by choice.
We asked Lydia’s good friend Judith Rosenbaum to read this beautifully reflective essay. Judith is CEO of the Jewish Women’s Archive, a pioneering national organization that documents Jewish women’s stories, elevates their voices and inspires them to be agents of change.
Listen in on this journey through Lydia’s sensory memories and discover the product of combining her Italian heritage with her chosen Jewish faith, melding her experiences, creating new traditions for her family and expanding the definition of Judaism while also connecting deeply with its traditions.
What you’ll discover from this episode:
- How Lydia’s essay highlights an important way the Jewish religion expands
- The richness this expansion brings to Judaism
- How Lydia’s memories of her non-Jewish upbringing have become intrinsically Jewish
- The ways that essays like Lydia’s can help us understand the lives of Jewish women
- How religiously non-formal familial and domestic practices shape our connection to our own Jewishness
- Where examples and references to sense memories can be found throughout ancient Judaism
- The recipe for squash with egg and cheese
Featured on this episode:
Lydia Kukoff (writer) is a member of the Hebrew College Board of Trustees. She created and for 13 years led the Reform Movement’s outreach program, the Jewish community’s first national program for intermarried couples and Jews-by-choice. In that capacity she traveled widely throughout North America, leading seminars and speaking about intermarriage and conversion and the changing demography of the North American Jewish community. She is the author of “Choosing Judaism” and co-author of “Every Person’s Guide to Judaism” and “Introduction to Judaism: A Course Outline” with Rabbi Steven Einstein. Kukoff was awarded the Weinberg-Chai Award by the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, the Isaac Mayer Wise Award by Temple Emanuel in Denver and Faculty Award for academic achievement by HUC-JIR in Los Angeles.
Judith Rosenbaum (reader) is CEO of the Jewish Women’s Archive (JWA), a pioneering national organization that documents Jewish women’s stories, elevates their voices and inspires them to be agents of change. An educator, historian and writer, Judith served for nearly a decade as JWA’s director of public history and director of education. She earned a BA from Yale University and a Ph.D. from Brown University. She won a Fulbright Fellowship to study women’s collective communities in Israel and received a dissertation grant from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study to pursue research on the women’s health movement. She has taught and lectured widely at institutions including Brown University, Boston University, Hebrew College and Gann Academy. She also serves on the faculty of the Bronfman Fellowship and was awarded a Schusterman Fellowship for Jewish leaders.
Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, Ph.D. (host), is director of the Hebrew College Innovation Lab. He is research professor in the department of music and Judaic studies at Tufts University and senior consultant for Hillel International. The author of several books, among his many awards are a 2018 Hebrew College honorary degree, a Grammy nomination for his album “Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda,” the Edgar M. Bronfman Award for Lifetime Accomplishment in Hillel Professional Leadership and the Tufts Hosea Ballou Medal.
Torah is one of the most profound sources of wisdom available to us. In Hebrew College’s new podcast, “Speaking Torah,” Jewish leaders from around the world read essays from Hebrew College faculty and rabbinical alumni about how Torah can help us navigate the most pressing issues of our time. Together, we explore the ways Torah can help us approach the world with creativity, healing and hope. Find out more at hebrewcollege.edu/podcast.
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