lace plate-mats

Two doilies from the Plesch family household, from the first half of the 20th century, given by Janos and Melanie Plesch in memory of Prof. Dr. Peter H. Plesch.

You can often find a number of Jewish Museum employees in the lunchtime crowd at the canteen of the European Patent Office at Hallesches Tor in Berlin. The food there is excellent; the noise, on the other hand, is excessive: rattling silverware, clattering dishes, and the voices of diners whirring together into one great drone.

In the dining room of the Berliner doctor family Plesch such a hubbub would have been unthinkable. Their secret: clatter-doilies.  continue reading

Jewish Halloween

Candy is a tricky matter for synagogues on Simhat Torah, the holiday celebrating the Torah and its yearly reading cycle. On this evening, the Torah scrolls are carried around the synagogue in festive processions and worshippers sing, dance, and throw sweets for children to collect. assorted bonbonsIn small synagogues, this procedure is fairly straightforward.

But large synagogues can have issues with Milka-bars and Twixes flying through the air. To be fair, not many adults enjoy a barrage of caramels raining down on their heads, no matter the brand, no matter the degree of religious devotion. And to be very fair, bonbons thrown from synagogue balconies can be hazardous for the Torah scrolls, too.  continue reading

Cooking and Keeping Silent

On the occasion of Julia Child’s 100th birthday I watched the film “Oma & Bella.”

Oma and Bella shopping for groceries

Oma and Bella © Salzgeber & Co. Medien GmbH

Oma and Bella share with Julia Child a love of cooking. They are not yet 100, but not far off: they are 84 and 88 and live in Berlin. Fifty years ago they went dancing at the “Las Vegas”; today they go to the “Chalet Suisse” and drink Berliner lager. Oma’s granddaughter made a film about them: having their hair done, out on a boat trip, watching television, and again and again, cooking in Oma’s kitchen.  continue reading

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