Alyssa Dee Krauss, American, b. 1962
Kiddush Cup BlessedLearn More
Food and drink often serve ceremonial functions in Judaism, whether as part of a ritual meal, to sanctify the Sabbath and festivals, or to fulfill Jewish dietary laws. Holiday meals generally incorporate universally prescribed ritual foods as well as local and informal culinary traditions. Jewish dietary laws (kashrut) mandate how certain foods should be prepared and forbid the consumption of certain types of animals, birds, and fish. Blessings are recited before and after meals to thank God for providing sustenance. Every Sabbath and festival is ushered in with the blessings over wine and hallah bread (the exception being Passover, when unleavened bread, or matzah, is consumed instead), while each holiday may have specific foods associated with it, such as the matzah on Passover or apples and honey on the Jewish New Year. Symbolic foods that are not consumed at all, but still have ceremonial significance, include the shank bone on the Passover seder plate and the etrog (citron) fruit of Sukkot. The variety of ways in which food figures into Jewish practice reflects the importance of this facet of Jewish life in creating memory and identity for communities around the world.
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