The Schmooze

My Tribe

Earlier this week, Efrat Libfroind wrote about cooking and self-improvement, being a mother and a full-time pastry chef and the only kosher cooking student in class. Her new cookbook, “Kosher Elegance: The Art of Cooking With Style,” is now available. Her blog posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite, courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


At times, Israel can feel like a very divided country. It is as if we Israelis all belong to our specific tribe and never come into contact with the others tribes unless forced to do so.

Publishing my cookbook has been a wonderful experience because I have come into contact with many Israelis who, on the face of things, belong to a different tribe than I do. I have enjoyed working with all sorts of people in the production of my book — photographers, food stylists, journalists, etc. What I find really eye-opening is the reactions these people have when they meet me. I have loved every minute of it.

I am what the news refers to as an “ultra-Orthodox” Jew. I do fit the bill, there is no denying it. I cover my hair, my husband learns Torah, I have six children — all the stereotypes are there.

At the same time, I speak fluent English. I run a business and have traveled. I keep up with trends in the world of food and cooking accessories. So, I do live within my tribe, but I am quite aware of what is happening with other tribes. So while I don’t live or work all that much with members of other Israeli tribes, I have a pretty good understanding of what is happening in the wider Israeli reality.

I think, however, that for many people I have been meeting due to my book, I am the first ultra-Orthodox Jew that they are dealing with in an “up-close and personal” way.

An example occurred recently, when a reporter from a prestigious Israeli (secular) newspaper spent six hours with me at my home in order to discuss my new book and to watch me in action in the kitchen. I loved spending so much time with her — she was wonderful, a real pleasure to talk to. For her, I think it was an anthropological experience. She couldn’t get over how I have six kids, run a successful business and published a cookbook in two languages, and how my husband learns Torah. It is true she did find me in the kitchen, but I think our time together broke down a lot of stereotypes for her. For me, it has been heartwarming to feel the openness and interest of so many of my fellow Israelis for members of “other” tribes. (Like me!) I mean, the news seems to say we don’t get along! But I have been finding otherwise. Time and time again. Seems kosher gourmet food is a great connector.


Sweet and Sour Avocado Salad

Avocado is one of my favorite fruits. Its neutral taste goes well with a variety of unusual flavors. In this salad, I created a sweet-and-sour combination. It’s quick and easy to prepare — just make sure you have all the ingredients on hand.

Serves approximately 6

Salad:

2 firm, ripe avocados
5 dates
1 red or orange pepper
1/4 red onion, diced
2 scallions, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1/2 cup salted roasted almonds, coarsely chopped

Dressing:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch black pepper
1 tablespoon date syrup or honey

Peel avocado and cut into small chunks. Pit dates and cut into cubes. Dice the peppers and red onion, and cut scallions into thin strips. Transfer fruit and vegetables to a deep bowl. Add the dried cranberries and almonds. In a small bowl, mix the dressing, pour over the salad and toss.

Tip: For an original presentation, purchase decorative serving spoons at a paper goods store and serve individual portions of salad in them.

Efrat Libfroind is the author of “Kosher Elegance.” She will be posting all week for the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Authors Blog.

The Jewish Book Council is a not-for-profit organization devoted to the reading, writing and publishing of Jewish literature. For more Jewish literary blog posts, reviews of Jewish books, book club resources, and to learn about awards and conferences, please visit www.jewishbookcouncil.org.

MyJewishLearning.com is the leading transdenominational website of Jewish information and education. Visit My Jewish Learning for thousands of articles on Judaism, Jewish holidays, Jewish history, and more.

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