Food IS REALLY A Source Of Cultural Identity

As we proceed through life, we happen to be countries or meet people from dissimilar civilizations, and we obviously question our new environments. By questioning these new societies, we're able to understand more of your respective personality and identification. Cultural identity is when certain traditions, customs, values and values are distributed through traditional cultural practises and become significant and important to oneself1. It plays a part in how we see ourselves and the organizations with which we identify1. Cultural foods give you a rich group of metaphors through which individuals can express their civilizations. Food is one custom that firmly connects people to their customs, and has been not only important in Jewish culture and background, it's been central to the Ashkenazi Jews' ideas about themselves and about others, as well as their communal and communal techniques2. Ashkenazis or Eastern Western european Jews are thought as those who, from long before 1500, resided in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and European Russia3. This article explores how food is source of cultural identification for Ashkenazi Jews residing in Australia, concentrating on the connection between food and festivals, ceremonies and the Bible. Aswell as the contrast of how food is not the most identifiable aspect in a few Ashkenazi Jews lives.

Festivals and Ceremonies:

Formerly, Jews arrived along around a center of spiritual and ethnic traditions, such as synagogue affiliation, lamps of Shabbat candles and providing charity to Jewish foundations9. However today, Australia's Jewish inhabitants has encountered an internal breakdown of both the concept of community and the family unit, that have united the Jewish people for such a long time. Ashkenazi Jews use food in an effort to unify family and friends, and reconnect with practices and culture4. Ashkenazi delicacies tends to use oil, potatoes, inexpensive reductions of beef and simple seasonings4. The importance of food to Ashkenazi Jews can be learned from the famous celebrations and rituals. Foods related to celebrations are more predicated on traditions and symbolism passed on generation-to-generation, rather than the Bible. An extremely special celebration occurring on the seventh day of the week is Shabbat. Good and homely food is an essential area of the mitzvah, or good deed, of oneg Shabbat, signifying 'enjoying Shabbat'. Traditionally, Ashkenazi Jews start the event with a small serving of a fish dish; gefilte seafood, poached jelly fish or pickled fish, dished up as an appetizer before hot soup. A rooster main dish is then served accompanied by cooked vegetables and a kugel4. Finally, dessert is usually fresh or stewed fruits followed by tea and small cakes4. This strongly contrasts the Sephardic Jews undertake Shabbat food. Sephardic Jews echo the meals more typical of many Mediterranean countries since Sephardic Jews are descendents of settlers from the Near East. Meals include fish with avgolemono sauce, sliced eggplant, roasted lamb, stuffed vegetables, rice and, to complete the meal, a honey-soaked cake or pastry nibbled with strong and special Turkish espresso4. The ceremonial loaf of bread, Challah, is surrounded by folklore and custom and laden with symbolism. On festive situations a blessing or Motzi is said over two loaves of challah, symbolising the manna directed at the people of Israel through the Exodus from Israel on Fridays5. Two helpings of the manna were sent out, therefore the Israelites didn't need to work and put together food on the Shabbat5.

Similarly to Shabbat, foods consumed on Rosh Ha'Shanah are symbolic to certain aspects to the function, and are manufactured by the Ashkenazi cultural customs. Rosh Ha'Shanah means 'mind of the calendar year'; it is the New Year's celebration of the Jewish calendar and features foods to celebrate the hope of an sweet yr. A hearty main meal of seafood, appetizers, meat and honeyed veggie (Tzimmes) is regular4. The iconic foods that signify and rejoice the Jewish New Year's are apples dipped in honey and honey wedding cake for a good and sweet 12 months, and the spherical challah and the top of a fish which signifies the circle of life and markings the cyclical dynamics of the span of a time4. The representations of Rosh Ha'shanah and Shabbat foods are significant to most Ashkenazi Jews in Australia, since it enables these to link to their ancient faith in physical form and spiritually3.

However, during the main and solemn holiday in the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur, the Torah (Jewish scriptures) commanded "You shall afflict your souls" (Leviticus 16:29)6 and "For your spirit which is not afflicted on that day will be take off" (Leviticus 23:29)6. This has been interpreted, as Jewish people need to fast from sunset to sunset to atone for the sins of days gone by year4. It really is one of the few holidays that is not dependent on food. Thus it is taking care of which food is not really a source of social identity. It is also a meeting when many Ashkenazi Jews who do not notice some other Jewish custom will refrain from work, fast and/or go to synagogue services on this day. Instead of using food as a way to obtain cultural identity, it is the sacred spiritual day. Although, it is customary for Ashkenazi Jews to produce a feast for breaking of the fast. Normally comprising cakes and hot drink to break the fast, then light salads and dairy foods to aid with digestive function3. Proving that Ashkenazi Jews go back to food to be able commemorate important events that are momentous in the Jewish culture.

Impact of Ashkenazi foods on the non-Jewish communities:

Jewish foods don't only give Ashkenazi Jews themselves ethnic identity, but allows non-Jewish people to recognise the Jewish culture. Australia prides itself as being a multi-cultural country. In 2011, the Census revealed that 26% of Australia's population was born abroad and an additional one fifth possessed at least one mother or father born abroad7. Through the entire 100 years since the first National Census in 1911, a sizable element of the Australian human population have been made up of migrants7. Despite the fact that only 0. 5% of Australians identify themselves as Jewish7, this hasn't swayed the impact the Jewish culture is wearing the Australian diet. After World War II, Jews all over the world, especially in Australia identify the bagel with the Old World and with immigrant Jewish culture10. The bagel was brought to Western societies by the Eastern Western Jews from the 1890s and also have become one of the most iconic foods that gentiles identify with the Jewish culture8. A lot of the other foods pointed out so far, are mostly restricted to those of Jewish beliefs and scarcely are consumed by the wider community8. Other Ashkenazi foods readily available in the key places of Australia, are baked goods like babka and rugelach, fried potato pancakes known as a Latke and the blintz4, 10.

Jewish Dietary Laws and regulations - Kashrut:

Jewish people are likely to follow an complicated system of procedures and taboos in relation to food, produced from a couple of commandments said to have been given to Moses by G-d6. These commandments prohibit the eating of particular pets or animals, the most recognized pig; these are prescribed definite methods for the slaughter and preparation of animals that are not restricted10. The directives have been augmented by a code of practise, known as Kashrut, intended to ensure they are never defied9. However, the observance of Jewish Diet rules have declined sharply, with many Jews observing them only partially and many others rejecting them completely9. This example hasn't, however, made these nutritional rules irrelevant; on the contrary, it offers made them one of the most crucial ways by which ideas about modern Jewish id and account can be indicated. Ashkenazi Jews had a need to adapt some of the Dietary Laws and regulations because of the food accessibility in a few areas3. Several changes which may have been made are the mixing of fish and milk products, more leniency with the Kashrut for meats than Sephardic Jews and refraining from eating legumes, grain, millet and rice through the Passover happening10. In Australia, Ashkenazi Jews still continue to observe these modified rules due to strong traditional aspects linked to them, which individualises them as a certain kind of Jew.

Today, Jews from various different areas and streams, can consider the Kosher Laws and regulations to be a historical form of food regulations that doesn't need to be performed in today's society, as a result of new modern ways of cleaning and preparation of foods. Other reasons are some aren't prepared well of the regulations, and/or contemplate it an added expenditure and inconvenience. More recently, animal rights groupings and the Australian press have exclaimed their outrage of the ill-treatment of pets during the procedure for Koshering meat by companies who do not provide previous stunning11, 12. It has strongly affected Jews to disassociate themselves from obeying Kashrut, and in a few circumstances reject their Jewish personality12. This is because they think the Jewish culture doesn't value pets12. However, this contradicts what the Jews and the Torah imagine. Ritual slaughter, known as shechita, is an easy, deep cut across the neck with a flawlessly sharp blade with no hesitations or unevenness12, 13. This technique is regarded as pain-free by Rabbis because Jews think that God, would only give a merciful and compassionate approach to send off for his creatures6, 12. The Torah is the first methodical legislation, which prohibits cruelty to pets and authorises that they be cured with thought and value. Judaism exigencies the humane treatment of animals6, 12. As well shechita has been scientifically shown to be painless. Dr. Stuart Rosen MA, MD, FRCP talked about the behavioural reactions of pets or animals to shechita and the neurophysiologic studies relevant to the examination of pain, and concluded, "shechita is a simple and humane method of creature slaughter"13. Jews should be happy to see Kashrut and identify themselves as Jewish as a result of humane and clean means of getting ready food.


Cultural identification should be significant and personal to oneself, as well as an wide open exploration that needs to be distributed. In multi-cultural societies, like Australia, recognising certain ethnicities can be carried out by looking at their foods. Ashkenazi Jews are now identifiable by non-Jewish societies, because they connect the Ashkenazi community with iconic foods, such as bagels. For Ashkenazi Jews, the word "You take in what you are"4 can be applied perfectly. They may have special foods and diets because of their sacred occasions, and ritual eating at festivals and ceremonies allow Ashkenazi Jews to think about and identify with their culture and religious beliefs through the symbolic representations of the traditional foods. However, you are what you do not eat as well. The solemn celebration of Yom Kippur, is one of the most crucial Jewish celebrations and requires Jews to fast from sunset to sunset4. Also the laws of Kashrut have rigorous recommendations of forbidden foods, and specific manners of preparing food that require to be obeyed9. Kosher eating is a essential part of food being a source of ethnical individuality, even though not every Jew observes all the laws.

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