On the first day of Rosh Hashana last week, I listened to a congregant at my synagogue chant Haftorah, the additional reading from Jewish scriptures that follows the reading of the Torah on Shabbat and holidays. This particular Haftorah continues to hold great relevance and importance for Jews today, and particularly for Jewish women. It tells the story of Hannah and her desire to bear a child. In the story, we learn that Hannah and Peninah are both the wives of a man named Elkanah. Peninah goads Hannah because Hannah, like many of the Jewish matriarchs, is barren.
The cannon of Jewish recipes is an extensive one that spreads across many places and generations. Many of the recipes contained therein have been cooked by generations of women with only small changes in the way they have been prepared. Many of these recipes have come to be viewed as traditional dishes, prepared on holidays, Shabbat and other special occasions. They have come to play an important role at these times and are often specifically associated with these occasions.