By Brandie BlandFor Mitzpeh@BlandBrandie

Chocolate cinnamon sugar mandel bread and coffee is the perfect combination according to Leah Packer from Because I Said So. Photo courtesy of Leah Packer.

For many students at this university, there is nothing better than a crispy potato latke or a juicy slice of slow-braised brisket. Food in Jewish culture holds significant meaning.

Food is at the heart of many holiday gatherings and life celebrations, and for some, special dishes become treasured memories shared with family and friends. Food connects us to our culture and loved ones. For some students at this university, it’s also deeply connected to religious practices.

Making and sharing food can be a large part of someone’s Jewish identity and practices, such as making food for the break-the-fast meal on Yom Kippur or carefully preparing meals brought to those celebrating a late loved one’s life while they’re observing Shiva.

For Leah Packer, a sophomore communications and theatre major, food helps her connect with her mom, who was the first person to cook for her and connect her with her Jewish identity.

“My brother and I both have food allergies so we don’t eat out very much, and as long as I can remember, it’s been my mom in the kitchen working to make safe meals for us,” Packer said.

Packer and her mom now share their mother-daughter relationship and their passion for cooking with the world.

The pair run a cooking YouTube channel called “Because I Said So-Cooking For You,” where they share a range of delicious kosher and non-kosher recipes. Packer, who enjoys classics like Matzo Ball soup, said it is hard to narrow down her list of her favorite Jewish recipes. But her current favorite is mandel bread

“Our favorite recipe to make together is mandel bread. We call it the biscotti’s Scottish-Jewish cousin,” Packer said. “It is the best thing to have with coffee and should be on every dessert plate.”

For other students at this university, food is a way to share personal passions with others online.

Gabi Frohlich, a senior family science major, turned her love of science and into an online platform. 

Frohlich, who goes by “bakedbygabi” on Instagram and her blog, is a food blogger and recipe developer who brings a fresh perspective to traditional recipes — from pesto challah bread to smoothie bowls.

“One of my favorite things to make and post is different types of challah bread,” Frohlich said. “I think it’s really interesting and is definitely a very important part of my cultural affiliation with my religion.”

One of Frohlich’s most popular recipes is her Savory Challah French Toast. Bourbon Caramel Banana Bread is also one of her personal favorites.

Offline, other students at this university foster social connections and deepen friendships by sharing their favorite recipes with roommates and friends.

Abigail Landesman, a junior government and politics major, enjoys sharing her favorite recipes with her roommates.

She cooks dinner for her roommates twice a week, preparing foods such as Korean BBQ tofu and pesto pasta.

“I definitely think I have grown into myself as a chef since moving into my own apartment with a kitchen,” Landesman said.

For these Jewish students, food is one of the most creative, diverse and interesting ways to connect people — no matter if it’s a traditional dish or one that has been tweaked to add a personal touch.

“My thing is finding that dish that people are really comfortable with in a traditional way and integrating my touch to make it different and interesting,” Frohlich said.


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