Tuscaloosa Jewish Festival 2017

The Jewish food festival took place earlier this month and celebrated food of the Jewish culture. Bloom Hillel provided the venue of the event and it was open to the public.

By AnaCarolina Chaves
News Reporter

The Sisterhood of Temple Emanu-El and Bloom Hillel presented the Tuscaloosa Jewish Food Festival Sunday, April 2.

The event took place at 809 Fourth Ave, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The event was open to the public and guests had the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets in exchange for customary Jewish food and desserts. It was a charity event for the organization and a way to expose their culture on campus at the University of Alabama.

They provided assorted box lunches guests could purchase for $10 to $12 or a sampler bar that varied from $1.50 to $5.

Kosher foods are those that comply with the regulations of kashrut, the Jewish dietary law. Some foods may be eaten together while some foods are to be eaten separately.

“The separation of meat products and dairy products is common and strictly kosher households will have specific dishes and silverware they use to serve each food,” caretakers of the Temple said.

According to Temple Emanu-El, a large number of foods are considered to be neither milk nor meat and can therefore be eaten with either. These are called “pareve” (pronounced par-ehv) and include fruits and vegetables, grains, tofu, eggs and fish.

For the Jewish community, recognizing Passover requires another level of restrictions to their diet.

According to Temple Emanu-El, relatively few American Jews keep kosher at any level. Some people keep kosher in the home, but not while out and others avoid pork, but do not worry about mixing milk with meat.

The sampler foods for the benefit consisted of an assortment of pastries and also saltier foods.

On the pastry table, they served hamantaschen, a triangular-shaped butter cookie filled with a fruit jam or chocolate. If you don’t like fillings, they also offered mandel bread, which is a crunchy biscotti cookie, rich in flavor.

Baklava, a famous Middle Eastern dessert, was their feature dessert and consists of several layers of nuts with honey separated by glazed crusts.

Kugel, a sweet noodle pudding, was highly recommended by the staff members, while the matzah ball soup, a dish which consists of vegetable broth and a matzah ball, was available for vegans.

Among the saltier foods, they offered cheese blintzes, which are thinly rolled crepes filled with sweet cheese. It was popular among the crowd.

Nadim Shunnarah, who is studying political science at the University of Alabama, said he came to the event with a Jewish friend to learn more about his culture.

“The food is really different from what I eat daily,” Shunnarah said. “From the information on the preparation of the dishes and their strict kosher diet, you really gain insight on how seriously they practice their culture.”

Elie Allen, a student intern at Bloom Hillel, attended the event and tends to the needs of the facility.

“This event has been going on for around 10 years,” Allen said. “Hillel has the space to host the event, so we open our doors to allow the facility to be used.”

Around 100 people attended the event or pre-ordered food to go from the festival, Allen said, and this is a time people could come and get some of the most authentic food in Tuscaloosa.

“It’s a cultural event,” Allen said. “I want people to ask questions and find out why these foods are a Jewish food.”