When I registered to participate in the cooking class at Hillel with Andrea Bock from Jewish Federation, I never expected to get anything more than a few Hamentaschen out of it. When we first arrived, the table was set up beautifully with step-by-step directions, ingredients measured out, and place settings for each person. You could tell that Andrea put a lot of heart and soul into her preparation for the lesson. From the very beginning, I could tell that this was going to be so much more than just cooking.
Andrea asked us several questions throughout the two hours. She asked us how we learned to cook, what our favorite family recipes are, what food means to our family, and she shared her story. She also asked us about our personal experiences with anti-Semitism. She talked about her grandmother would never measure anything out when she was baking, but baking has to be an exact science. Andrea talked about how cooking is sometimes more about love and culture, then just following a recipe. As the night went on, our conversation became deeper. We started to talk about anti-Semitism that we have seen here in Delaware, as well as what it means for us to be Jewish. Throughout the evening, we also talked about the problem of a decreasing Jewish population in Delaware.
Andrea shared with us her powerful story of growing up as the only Jew in her middle school and experiencing someone drawing a swastika on her desk. She told us how before that incident, she was always proud of who she was, but after that, it was hard for her to be herself. Later in her life, she discovered that being Jewish is a huge part of her life, and she does not care what other people think of her or who she is, and that has helped her to become a strong confident person today.
This cooking lesson was a powerful experience because I was able to connect with Andrea about experiencing anti-Semitism first hand, but at the same time cooking and expressing my Jewish heritage in a celebratory way. I am so happy that I attended this lesson and I am really looking forward to attend another later in the month!