Soc.Culture.Jewish Newsgroups
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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< Q19.7 TOC Q19.9 >

Question 19.8:
What do bagels, lox, pastrami, falafel, garlic pickles, kishka, and kasha have to do with being a Jew?


Those are foods popular in some cultures in which Jews lived, but have zero religious significance. They are sometimes called "Jewish foods" because of their popularity among Jews, and because they bring back memories of one's ancestors who ate similar foods.

In Ashkenazi communities, Gefilte fish goes beyond being a food of the larger community adopted by the Jewish community. In these communities, there was a custom to have fish, wine, and meat on the Sabbath. On the Sabbath, one may not separate "bad from good" such as removing bones from fish. (Good from bad, i.e. fish from bone is OK...) To simplify matters, it became popular to serve ground fish from which bones were removed.

Another Jewish dish is cholent, a stew left to simmer throughout Shabbos, because this a) avoids cooking on Shabbos b) reaffirms the belief in oral Torah, permitting the use of a fire lit before shabbos, as opposed to the Karaites, who rejected the oral Torah and didn't use fire on Shabbos. The cholent is then eaten for the Sabbath afternoon meal.

One of the problems with Jewish cooking is that you can eat an entire meal, yet not even 72 hours later, you're hungry for more. (:-)

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

[Got Questions?]Hopefully, the FAQ will provide the answer to your questions. If it doesn't, please drop Email to The FAQ maintainer will endeavor to direct your query to an appropriate individual that can answer it. If you would like to be part of the group to which the maintainer directs questions, please drop a note to the FAQ maintainer at

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© (c) 1993-2004 Daniel P. Faigin <>