I never sat down with my bubbe to learn how to make her matzo ball soup, brisket, or babka. I regret it now, because sadly, I can’t cook-- especially not the traditional Jewish foods. I’m embarrassed to say that my matzo balls come from a box, and my latkes from Trader Joes.
I remember walking into my mother-in-law’s home for the first time and eating a meal reminiscent of the ones my bubbe, Toby, used to make, and that helped solidify the fact that my husband was “the one.” That also made me realize that my children should really learn from her. It’s like a second chance I never thought I would have, that is now bestowed upon them!
Now, with Passover around the corner, I insist that my children take the time to learn from their grandparents and ask about our family history. I hope that they will observe my mother-in-law rolling those matzo balls and making that delicious apple cake. I tell them to watch her get the seder (traditional meal with symbolic foods, prayers, and stories) plate ready for Passover, and pay attention to the creative things she can do to make eight days of eating matzo more bearable. I emphasize that they should learn from her, because they surely won’t learn from me. Unfortunately, they are often too busy playing Minecraft with their cousins. I am hoping this Passover will be different!
Check out this article, “Cooking from Memory,” for another account from a Rabbi about why it is so important for your children to learn about traditions from your parents and grandparents (especially during Passover).
Grandparents. . . How Can You Pass on Your Traditions to Your Grandchildren?
One idea to get the children engaged is to use family recipes for brisket, latkes, or matzo balls and teach the grandkids how to become chefs in “Bubbe's Jewish Cooking School.” While you're creating, be sure to share family memories of how, when and why these Jewish foods were eaten. Invite your own children to sample the feast. The Passover seder is a great time to have your grandchildren help you organize and cook foods for the dinner table.
Hope this Passover holiday helps your children discover an interest in Jewish food and traditions, that they can pass on for generations to come.
Interested in learning more about Jewish food, particularly Israeli cuisine? Be sure to check out the film, "In Search of Israeli Cuisine," which is showing this Friday, as part of the Northern Virginia Jewish Film Festival.