American Jewish cookbooks capture the range of Jewish religious and cultural expression in the United States. Women took advantage of the versatility and variety of cookbooks to add their voices to the growing and developing Jewish culture in the United States.
Food and foodways are a critically important area of documenting and deciphering the evolving experience of American Jewish women from the earliest days of immigration to the present. Food is a lens into American Jewish women’s worlds of family, religion, identity, work, political action, entrepreneurship, and more as they have encountered the forces of assimilation, anti-Semitism, systemic racism, sexism, changing consumer economies, and the long women’s movement.
Lizzie Black Kander was a Jewish philanthropist who turned the recipe book she made for a cooking class for new immigrants into a two-million-copy bestseller. Her decades of service in the early twentieth century had an unforgettable impact on the Milwaukee Jewish community.
Sephardic food tells the story of the Iberian Jewish community from its roots in ancient Spain and Portugal through the community’s expulsion in 1492 and subsequent global diaspora. Sephardic women acted as the main interpreters and preservers of the community’s culinary repertoire.