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December 18, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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December 18, 2009
 

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PAGE 24A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, DECEMBER 18, 2009 By Rachel Tepper MEMPHIS, Tenn. (JTA)-- Southern food, a deep fried country cuisine eponymous with bacon fat and crawfish, is hardly something one would expect to find on a kosher plate. But a Jewish day school here is hoping to change this percep- tion with "Simply Southern: With a Dash of Kosher Soul,"a new cookbook chronicling the history and recipes of Southern kosher cooking. Four-and-a-half years ago, the Margolin Hebrew Academy initiatedaproject that aimed to collect kosher recipes unique to the southern United States. Originally intended to be a mod- est fund-raiser, the venture far exceeded the school's expecta- tions by eliciting more than 1,500 responses from Jewish families in the South. The book's editors, Dena Wruble and 1Yacy Rapp, said the project started with an ad requesting recipes and personal stories placed in The Hebrew Watchman, the Jewish newspaper for the Memphis community. A team of volunteers re- cruited by Wruble and Rapp prepared about 500 individual recipes before settling on a mix of 300 dishes ranging from time-honored Southern meals, including fried chicken and macaroni and cheese, to traditional Jewish fare with a distinctly Southern twist, such as latkes with parsnips and chives. The chosen recipes belong to Jews of varying ages and backgrounds, symbolizing the vibrancy of Jewish cuisine below the Mason-Dixon Line. Wruble and Rapp said their inspiration for the new book was multifold. "Our community has been known for our Southern hos- pitality and great food," Rapp said. "But there really isn't a comprehensive Southern kosher cookbook out there." She said the Margolin He- brew Academy's new cookbook will fill that void. Rapp said interest in a kosher cookbook for Southern cuisine was fueled particularly by the community's reaction toaone- time offer presented by Corky's BBQ, a venerated Memphis barbecue establishment. Upon acquiring a new smok- er, Corky's prepared several pounds of kosher barbecue be- fore using it to smoke the res- taurant's usual pork-laden fare. Corky's owner, Don Pelts, is a member of the Memphis Jewish community and organized the event as a fund-raiser to benefit the Margolin academy. The event raked in a stag- gering $147,000 in orders, which Wruble and Rapp felt illustrated a dire need within the Jewish community for more opportunities to enjoy Southern cuisine. "We don't have kosher res- taurants here," Rapp said. "Everyone cooks." Now, she said, the new cookbook will give the chefs in kosher homes the chance to enjoy Southern classics and still adhere to kashrut. Accompanying the recipes in "Simply Southern" is a series of stories and anecdotes about Jewish life in the South.Wruble says the cookbook"teils a story within the pages," examining the culture of kosher food through the experiences of Southern Jews. Rapp said the histories were drawn from the experiences of several Southern Jews who contributed to the project, in- Courtesy Simply Southern Potato Parsnip Latkes is among the Southern specialties included in the new cookbook, ~Simply Southern: With a Dash of Kosher Soul." cluding grandparents of many Margolin students. "They all had stories about keeping kosher," a feat that often was difficult in commu- nities with few Jews, she said. Above all else, Wruble stressed, the cookbook's most appealing feature is its im- plicit reverence for Southern generosity and great food, plain and simple. "I think that always ap- peals to people," she said. "It appeals to us!" The Margolin academy-- formerly the Memphis He- brew Academy--was found- ed in 1949. In its early days the school could afford to hold classes for only a hand- ful of students in kindergar- ten and first grade. Despite the odds, the school prospered and merged with the Yeshiva of the South in 1987. Today it offers classes from pre- kindergarten through 12th grade. ~Simply Southern" will be available forpurchase on Dec. 10 through the book's Web site -- www.simply- southerncookbook.net -- or by phone at 866-715-7667. By Dan Pine j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California SAN FRANCISCO--The board of this city's local Jew- ish federation overwhelm- ingly rejected a controversial resolution to prohibit support of events and groups that"de- fame" Israel or partner with those who call for boycotts, divestment or sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Instead, at its Nov. 19 meet- ing, the board of directors passed a differently worded resolution opposing the anti- Israel BDS movement. Afterwhat acting federation CEO Jennifer Gorovitz called a "lively and respectful and open discussion," the board rejected two resolutions proposed by San Francisco residentAnat Pilovsky.Among the some 40 directors present, Pilovsky provided the only aye votes and resigned from the board the next day. "The board was rejecting not the principle but an overly simplistic formula that would have made the federation the decider and enforcer-in-chief of very subjective language," Goro- vitz said. The vote was the latest chapter in a debate over the limits of criticizing Israel and whether the local federa- tion should use the power of the purse to enforce any red lines. The controversy dates back to last summer's San Francisco Jewish Film Fes- tival-which regularly re- ceives support from the fed- eration, including $35,000 this year--and the screening of "Rachel," a documentary about pro-Palestinian activ- ist Rachel Corrie, who was killed in 2003 by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza. (Is- rael insists the incident was an accident.) Particularly upsetting to some federation and festival donors was the festival's deci- sion to invite Corrie's mother, San Francisco Jewish Community Federation Acting San Francisco federation CEO Jennifer Gorovitz said the resolution that was rejected "would have made the federation the decider and enforcer-in-chief of very subjective language." Cindy, to speak at the event. Some critics also were upset that one of the sponsors of the "Rachel" screening was the group Jewish Voice for Peace, which according to its Web site supports divestment from companies that "profit from Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem." Upset over federation funding of the film festival, support organizations that partner in their events with individuals or groups that call for [BDS] against Israel." A full-page ad in the Nov. 13 issue of the local Jewish newspaper included the text of the proposal and urged board members to pass the resolution. Three dozen community members signed the ad. In the final resolution put before the board, the word "demonize" had been removed. Instead, the board opted to replicate a resolution passed Nov. 9 in Washington at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America that called for an "effective response" and "proactive strategy" to oppose the BDS move- ment, along with training, education and community mobilization efforts. Gorovitz said the goal of the resolution passed at the GA was "to heighten awareness of all federations of the urgency of the BDS issue, and to ensure that the national system is commit- ted to exploring how best to respond to the tactic." At last week's meeting in San Francisco, which was closed to the press and other visitors, the board approved a change in the local federa- Stacey Palevsky/j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California Rachel Corrie's mother, Cindy, with Peter Stein following the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival screening of "Rachel" on July 25, spurred controversy with her appearance at the film's showing. the boundaries of grantees expression on Israel beyond BDS," according to Gorovitz. Pilovsky proposed that several community activists, none of whom currently sit on the federation board, join the working group to help devise solutions and give them voting power. This proposal also was rejected. Pilovsky said the passed measures are "a good start" not expect her resolutions to pass, she also did not expect to be the only person vot- ing aye. "I was shocked," she said. "I talked to six people [who] said, 'Yes I will support you, I'll be there,' and when it came to the vote, suddenly there was nobody. When the meeting was over, I took my papers and I walked out. Nobody said a word to me." 'The vote was the latest chapter in a debate over the lim- its of criticizing Israel and whether the local federation should use the power of the purse to enforce any red lines.' Despite her disappoint- ment, Pilovsky said she does not advocate donors upset about federation policy with- holding their annual gifts. "The only reason I am do- ing what I'm doing is I want the federation to be success- ful," she said. "I'm trying to help them. I hope they will turn around, change the resolution and go back to business as normal." an ad hoc group of federation donors, board members and community activists began lobbying federation staff, lay leadership and donors to demand the organization take action. The activists drafted a resolution that called on the federation to withdraw support of "events or orga- nizations that demonize or defame Israel. Nor will it tion's grant transmittal let- ters to beneficiary agencies stressing the need to "utilize resources such as the Jewish Community Relations Coun- cil in advance of potentially controversial programs," according to a federation statement. The board also voted to form a working group to explore "various diverse pro-Israel voices regarding but do not go far enough. Referring to the festival's "Rachel" event, she said the approved resolutions "do not address the issue of this kind of fiasco happening again." The Israel-born Pilovsky, a two-time co-chair of the fed- eration's annual campaign, lobbied her fellow board members for several weeks before the board meeting. While she admitted she did In response to Pilovsky's res- ignation, Gorovitz said,'~hre're saddened that a disagreement about how to handle this has caused her discomfort." Even as Gorovitz defended the board's decision, she said that one reason the contro- versy has lingered is because the federation was not more forceful last summer in criti- cizing the festival. "One reason this fes- tered...was the festival not only crossed the line from art to politics but did so in away that was careless," Gorovitz said. "When that led to an event that was abhorrent to the community, the federa- tion ought to have been out in front by declaring outrage over the behavior." At the time of the screen- ing, the federation released a cautiously worded statement noting the organization "objected to the recent Film Festival event that featured Rachel Corrie's mother as a speaker. The Federation ex- pects its grantees to exercise responsibility and respect with regard to sensitive program choices."