Experiencing the Flavor of Jewish Life with JDC

Different foods tell a myriad of stories through their ingredients and spices, bringing together Jewish people from around the world for generations through the joyful process of cooking and the shared eating of these dishes.

The JDC Symposium, an annual event organized by JDC Ambassadors and with participation from JDC Entwine was held at the Center for Jewish History in downtown New York City yesterday, drawing in over 100 attendees who were offered a taste of JDC’s world,  through hearing about Jewish issues; exploring key parts of Jewish history like displaced persons (DP) camps; tracing their own family roots via the extensive JDC Archives collection; and exploring the intertwining of today’s Jewish food and culture through a special presentation called “The Flavor of Jewish life: an exploration of cooking, culture and community.”

“JDC has touched so many lives.  One of the privileges of joining this organization is that people I have known for years have recently shared with me stories about family members saved by JDC. While this need for JDC's help is in the past for some, it is a current reality for many, many people.  Jews across the globe are facing extremely difficult challenges.  Without JDC, living day to day just wouldn’t be possible,” said David Schizer, JDC's CEO designate, in his opening remarks at the symposium.

Following was Anne-Claire Legendre, the new consul general of France in New York, who discussed the status of Jews in France in the face of anti-Semitism and terror. In addition, Atina Grossman, a professor of history at Cooper Union, showcased multiple photos within the JDC archives collection and illuminated the plight of Jews living in DP camps after the Holocaust.

In another session,  highlighting the connection between food and culture, heritage and Jewish peoplehood, Danielle Rehfeld, chef and founder of The Inherited Plate, alongside Liz Rueven of Kosher Like Me, and Amir Shaviv, JDC's assistant executive vice president for special operations, held a lively conversation on Jewish food and life in distant locations ranging from Hungary to Belarus to Iran, where JDC worked until 1979.

“In cooking, there is always something to learn. Through cooking with dynamic Jewish people, I hear the remarkable stories of their families, proving there is an amazing common humanity that we all share,” said Danielle Rehfield.

Danielle proceeded to recount a few stories she has heard on her Jewish food journey like Chef David Nayfeld’s family, who fled Minsk, Belarus among tens of thousands of Soviet Jewish emigres who received aid in the form of food, housing, clothing, medical care, English language classes, children’s and youth activities, and religious programs from JDC while awaiting immigration processing in Vienna and Rome in order to head to the U.S. and other countries.

As she spoke to David about his family’s miraculous story of survival, he and Danielle teamed up together to make Draniki, a delicious Belarusian style pancake stuffed with chicken recipe that was originally developed by Neyfeld for The Inherited Plate.

Danielle also interviewed David’s mother Galina just this past weekend to hear her perspective on how the recipe originated and her personal account on her family’s history.

She said, “At that time in my life, it marked the first time ever that people like JDC were there to help me.”

Danielle Capalino and Shari Levy, members of both the JDC Board of Directors and the JDC Ambassadors Steering Committee, chaired the event, while Co-Chair of the JDC Ambassadors Steering Committee Ellie Block kicked off the symposium.






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