Rachel DeSantis

For one night only, Maryland Terps didn’t need a passport to travel around the world.

The Jewish Student Union’s Jewish Geography: Food Edition, held on March 12, took students’ taste buds on a trip as it celebrated Jewish culture throughout the world.

Photo courtesy of Maryland JSU
Photo courtesy of Maryland JSU

The event, which was free to students, featured different recipes from 12 different countries, all with a tie to Jewish culture.

“We had known that we wanted to do a food-related event since the beginning of the year and decided to make it globally Jewish,” said sophomore Rebecca Yatovitz, who helped organize the event.  “To choose countries, we mostly just thought of ones that we knew people could relate to, either through ancestry or through studying abroad.  For example, we know a few people who are of Mexican descent and are Jewish, so we chose Mexico.”

The countries represented included Egypt, Russia, Mexico, Argentina, Libya, America, Israel, Morocco, India and Iran, and all of the food was homemade.  The set-up allowed people to walk around, taste the different food, and learn more about each of the countries.

“Once we had the places, we reached out to people from those countries and asked them to provide us with recipes or if they were able to cook for us,” said sophomore Shira Goldstein, an education chair of JSU who also helped plan the event.  “In addition, we looked up information about the countries and the Jewish communities of those countries so that people could know more about it.”

The goal of the event was to raise awareness of the number of cultures around the world that have active Jews and active traditions, Yatovitz said.

The night also included activities for attendees, like a map where people could write where they were from, and a photo booth with a sign that read “I’m from _________,” where people could fill in the blank with the county of their choice, Goldstein said.

“I loved sampling all the different foods, and not only learning about other cultures, but even learning about where some of my peers are from,” said sophomore Julia Ring.  “I often forget that there can be a lot of diversity even within the Jewish population.  I never knew that I had Jewish peers from places like Mexico!”

Many different student organizations also helped co-sponsor the event, including the Ethiopian Student Organization, Shazam, the Sikh Student Association and TerPAC.  And while the event was free, students were urged to make monetary and canned food donations, which went to a local food shelter, said Goldstein.

Despite the poor weather that evening, the night’s stormy skies didn’t seem to put a damper on the fun.

“Attendance was a bit lower than we had wanted due to the rain,” said Yatovitz.  “But I do believe the event was successful and we definitely plan to do it again next year, with a few modifications.”

Yatovitz said next time around, there would be more of a focus on the educational aspect of the countries, and less focus on just the food.

“This was the first time we were doing this event, and we thought it went pretty well and had a good, and diverse, turn out,” Goldstein said.  “People seemed to enjoy the event and get a lot out of it.”

Ring added, “I would definitely like to see this event happen again! I got to bond with one of my best friends that both of our ancestors are from Bialystok, Poland.  It was a chill atmosphere where students got to come together and chat about their heritage.”


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