Love of Cooking Brings Communities Together

Many will agree that food is at the heart of Jewish life and culture. So, what better way to bring two communities together than through a shared love of cooking?

That was the inspiration behind Food for Thought, The Louise D. and Morton J. Macks Center for Jewish Education (CJE) program funded by The Associated’s Baltimore-Ashkelon Partnership. The program offers a cohort of CJE connectors an opportunity to strengthen their connection to Israel and Judaism through an immersive cooking experience both in Baltimore and Ashkelon.

Talya Knable, who serves on the board of both CJE and The Associated, recently participated in the Food for Thought program.

“I often attend ‘Shabbat in the Park’ programs with my family presented by CJE,” shares Talya, a New Jersey native. “I love Moms’ Night Out and the opportunity to be with other like-minded Jewish women. Food for Thought was a great way to bring a smaller group together – learning to cook some traditional Israeli meals was an added bonus.”

The Food for Thought participants met for several cooking workshops in Baltimore before traveling to Ashkelon, Baltimore’s partnership city, to meet their Israeli counterparts and sample some of the cuisine they learned to cook.

“In addition to all of the street food and tastings at traditional markets, we had an amazing farm to table experience,” recalls Talya. “We were given a list of ingredients and then walked the land together and picked the food that we would later use to cook our meal.”

Communal eating not only brings people together over a shared love of food but also encourages an opportunity for acceptance and engaging conversation.

Talya says that the Food for Thought program served as a vehicle to talk about other things such as Jewish traditions, history and different cultures coming together as well as provided a life-changing experience.

“I’ve never eaten so much during a trip before.”

“During our home stay for Shabbat dinner, we shared a wonderful connection with our host family whose two older children are current Diller Teen Fellows in Baltimore. It was a nice personal touch and helped to bring our two Jewish communities closer together,” says Talya.

“I’ve never eaten so much during a trip before,” she jokes.

Talya admits that while her family’s favorite go-to meals are mac and cheese and pizza, she is excited to introduce some of the more traditional Israeli dishes at home with her husband Stephen and their two children Jack (age 3) and Leigh (age 15 months) and more importantly, share the stories about her new friends in Israel.

Talya, a psychotherapist in Lutherville, is also the voice behind The Mother Fix, a blog that combines her expertise as a psychotherapist with her experience as a mom.

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