Melissa Amster • The Jewish Food Experience
What kind of connection does food have to the Torah, aside from the laws of kashrut? Diana Lipton explored this concept in the book From Forbidden Fruit to Milk and Honey: A Commentary on Food in the Torah, where she worked with a team of 52 internationally acclaimed scholars to write essays on each parasha (Torah portion) and how food plays a role. Lipton includes her own verse-by-verse commentary on food and eating in the Torah. From Forbidden Fruit was originally an online project to support the food rescue charity Leket Israel.
Diana Lipton has been a fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge, reader in Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at King’s College London and a lecturer in Bible at Hebrew University’s Rothberg International School. She is the proud mother of Jacob and Jonah and lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Chaim.
Jewish Food Experience®: How were the contributors for From Forbidden Fruit selected, and what kind of guidance (if any) were they given?
Diana Lipton: I started with academics and Jewish educators I knew personally, which got me a very long way! Some contributors recommended other scholars they knew, along with a few outstanding students, and that enabled me to complete the list. I wanted contributors to be about half Israeli and half [from the] Diaspora, and to represent the full spectrum of religious observance. It was important for me that contributors be trained to deal with texts, but not necessarily Jewish texts. As it turned out, half the contributors were men and half women, which I was very happy about.
In the end, we started after Simchat Torah, not Shavuot as I hoped when I wrote the guidelines, and every parasha commentary was posted in English and Hebrew on the website of Leket Israel, accompanied by recipes. I found the recipes in English, mostly by contacting Jewish food bloggers. I was fortunate, though, to have contributions from published food writers such as Claudia Roden and Joan Nathan. The recipes in Hebrew were located by a Leket’s director of marketing, Anat Friedman-Coles. Anat was lucky to have a distinguished food writer among her close family members: Elinoar Rabin!
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