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A Bowl of Soup


Daniel Staffenberg
Chief Executive Officer
Jewish Community Federation of Richmond

Who doesn’t enjoy a good bowl of Chicken Soup, a tasty piece of brisket or perfect bagel and lox? Food is intrinsic to Jewish ritual, life and culture. We know who makes the best Challah, and the tastiest brisket, latkes and Israeli Salad.

What is the first act that the Israelites in Egypt were commanded to do? It’s to have a communal meal – to bring together the community. And with that, the beginning of the Jewish people is through a meal. The famous joke – “They tried to kill us, we won, now let’s eat”—is not really that far from the truth. Within the Jewish world is an understanding that various rituals are accompanied by a seudah mitzvah, or celebratory meal, whether a bris or a baby naming, B’nai Mitzvah or wedding.

Life Cycles

Each life cycle event is accompanied by a meal.  The act of preparing a meal is almost a prayer service in itself, bringing us together to care for and nurture our physical and spiritual selves.

The pandemic has taken the Jewish food ritual away from us in many ways.

Hidden Heroes in Community

As vaccinations increase and the thought of a return to normal begins, we need to remember the hidden heroes in our community. Our Kosher food providers, Nancy at the CAFÉ at the J, our Kosher caterers, and Westbury Kosher Market among others – all help make our community events special.

They feed our bodies and our souls. They have been hit hard by the pandemic and their absence would be a deep loss for our community. So, the next time your need a hot bowl of soup, a sandwich, a great knish or a place for a Shabbat meal, I hope you will consider calling Nancy at the Café at the J. You will be feeding your soul and supporting a vital part of our community.

I recommend the Matzah Ball Soup!

The Café at the JCC has takeout, delivery and socially distanced tables. Call her at 804-398-8626 or 285-6500 for your next great bowl of soup!

Feel free to reach out to me at daniel@jewishrichmond.org.

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