Storytelling, Matzah Balls & Empathy!
Food, History and Stories are Powerful...
Why am I starting this issue of “Notes” with 3 wonderful Matzah Balls?
Today is Rosh HaShanah, Jewish New Year! And, Matzah Balls are a fun and revealing story about Elliott.
Exploring people’s favorite foods reveal much about their culture, family and traditions.
History from Wikipedia: Matzah Balls (Yiddish: קניידלעך kneydlekh pl., singular קניידל kneydl) or matzo balls are Ashkenazi Jewish soup dumplings made from a mixture of matzah meal, beaten eggs, water, and a fat, such as oil, margarine, or chicken fat!
From Elliott’s Family: Matzah Ball Soup was featured at Holidays like Rosh HaShanah and family dinner.
It was the first food that I learned how to prepare - with my first Matzah Ball rolled in my small hands at 4 years old. My mother was a great Matzah Ball Trainer (see where my vocational passion came from). She taught me these steps:
Boil several quarts of water and add chicken stock and some vegetables like carrots.
Combine Matzah Meal (from a store bought package) with an egg, some oil (or chicken fat) and rolled into a 1 inch round ball - then placed in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Add the Matzah Balls to the Boiling Water and in 20 minutes they expand into a fluffy and quite filling (and tasty) food.
Eat the Matzah Ball Soup slowly, sharing stories of Matzah Balls cooked by grandparents and tales from Eastern Europe and our neighborhood in NY.
Today, I skipped the kitchen prep and headed for Juniors Deli in Manhattan - ordering the lunch special - Matzah Ball Soup and 1/2 a Pastrami Sandwich on Rye:
There is something very special and unique about telling, sharing and hearing stories from colleagues about some of their favorite family foods. They will share tales filled with Empathy. The food is an “appetizer” to hear about their cultures, traditions and wonderful incidents along the way. Here are a few of Elliott’s Matzah Ball tidbits:
Snowed in with Just Matzah Balls: When I lived in the Adirondack Mountains, there was a sudden snowstorm that blocked the road for 2 days. I hadn’t planned on staying - so there was no fresh food. BUT, I was able to make 3 boxes of Matzah Balls - to feed myself and next door neighbor - along with wonderful stories of the past.
Diversity of Taste at the Family Dinner: How much pepper or onions to add to the Matzah Ball Soup? Well, if honoring Diversity is the preference, let people create their own spice and flavor mix in their bowl. Diversity in Soup can open a conversation about how we honor Diversity in our lives and workplaces.
Mastery of Matzah Ball Prep - But, No Scouting Merit Badge: I loved to earn merit badges from the Cub and Boy Scouts. They were the early version of badges. But, there wasn’t any Matzah Ball Badge. So, I created a cardboard Matzah Ball to be pinned on my uniform. Oh, Elliott!
The next time you are designing an interactive activity with in a workshop - live or virtual, consider adding a question about family or favorite foods. You will be amazed at the conversations that will flow.
To my colleagues of all faiths, let me conclude with the greeting from the Jewish New Year: "May You Have a Good, Sweet and Happy New Year”
Yours in learning,
MASIE Learning Foundation