Jewish Diversity: Learning About Our Families, Friends, and Communities Through Food Recipes
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Jewish Diversity: Learning About Our Families, Friends, and Communities Through Food Recipes

Lesson Summary:

What can a recipe teach us about Jewish history and culture? In this Go & Learn guide from the Jewish Women's Archive, we explore how Jewish food culture has evolved as Jews have migrated from place to place. Batsheva Levy Salzman brought her mother's Moroccan pumpkin soup recipe from Morocco to Israel and then to Massachusetts, switching its setting from Sukkot to Thanksgiving. Examine how recipes tell us stories about Jewish history and our ever-changing rich cultural diversity.

Enduring Understandings:

  1. There is much diversity within the world-wide Jewish community. 
  2. The concept of "Jewish food" was created from the multitude of cultures that Jewish families have experienced and lived in over centuries. 
  3. These different culinary traditions are now experienced globally, allowing us to weave conventions from our other cultural identities into our Jewish traditions.

Essential Questions:

  1. How do cultural and culinary traditions evolve or change over time? 
  2. How does cuisine reflect cultural heritage or history?

Be Inspired:The ideas included are offered as starting points as you and your students explore, discover and live the lessons. Be sure to elicit and encourage student and parent participation, consistently reinforcing the value being addressed. Allow lessons to authentically develop and change based on engagement and interests.

Lesson Plan Components

For the educatorJewish Thought, Text, and Traditionsmore

Jewish every dayIncorporate Jewish Valuesmore

Materials and resourcesmore


(accessible via link below, in "procedure" section)

  • Copies of pumpkin soup recipe
  • 3-6 Jewish cookbooks
  • copies of Kimchee on the Seder plate essay
  • copies of “The Life and Times of Ruth and the Jungle” excerpt
  • white board or butcher paper


Explore, Discover, and More Extension and Reinforcement Activitiesmore

Music Connectionsmore

Evidence of Learningmore

  • Students will be able to illustrate or explain how culinary traditions (and other cultural practices) follow patterns of immigration and movement of people. 
  • Students will be able to explain the connection between cuisine and heritage. 
  • Students will be able to identify elements of food they know and recognize, and connect them to various cultural traditions. 


Lesson Contributors

The Jewish Women’s Archive is a national public history organization dedicated to telling the stories of Jewish women and inspiring change and inclusivity in communities everywhere. The collections and encyclopedia on invite learners of all ages to connect with role models from history and today. Nearly 100 lesson plans for kids, families, and adults help Jewish educators weave stories about identity and activism into programs about Jewish values, holidays, and ritual. And, JWA’s professional development programs and trainings encourage educators to connect with one another to create new ways of engaging the communities they serve. As we say at JWA, “You cannot be what you cannot see,” so check us out anytime, anywhere, at