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In The JOK Kitchen With Eating The Bible *Giveaway*


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Rena Rossner was inspired about ten years ago while eating a hot bowl of red lentil soup.  That fateful soup began a journey for Rena that culminated in her first cookbook, Eating the Bible.  Eating the Bible takes us through the weekly Torah portions with quoted verses and a little bit of commentary that connects us to a recipe.  Rena find connections similar to the way I do in our Shabbat Menus and I had fun going through and finding new ideas I had never thought of before.  I also love the way Rena explains her connections going into just the right amount of detail and adding alternative recipes options as well as questions to help keep the conversation moving from cooking to table. Let’s learn a bit more about Rena and preview a few recipes here:

The red lentil soup served to you the same week we read about the one Esau sold for his birthright inspired your journey.   What else inspired you through the whole process?

Well, first, I think that creating these recipes gave me a reason to read the Bible/Torah much more closely. My husband was always reading and learning and connecting to the Torah every week, and this gave me a reason to spend as much time, if not more time, analyzing the texts. But I was doing it in a way that was interesting to me, and I was looking for something completely different – not erudition, but rather, nutrition! It was fascinating not just to see how food played a part in people’s lives in Ancient times, but also which food items were critical to their lives and which types of food played (often a really important part!) in these stories.

Did you always think you would write a cookbook?

No. Never. I love food and I love cooking and baking. My mother is an amazing cook and baker, and so was my grandmother, and I grew up cooking at their elbows, but I never thought that what I did was different or special enough to warrant a cookbook. When I got married and finally had a kitchen of my own I got tons of cookbooks for my bridal shower and I started creating elaborate menus and trying recipes I’d never had the opportunity to try before. Creating a meal for me became something like an artform. I didn’t realize then that as I worked my way through nearly every recipe in these books that I was actually taking everything to the next level.

Herb Roasted Beef in a Salt Crust

Herb Roasted Beef in a Salt Crust

What is your earliest memory of cooking?

Wow. That’s a good question! I think it must be watching my mom make birthday cakes. My mom is an amazing cake decorator, and for every birthday she always made something fabulous. I learned to decorate cakes just by watching her, and I remember every cake she ever made for me. I think something in that speaks to what I’m trying to do with EATING THE BIBLE. Why do I remember those birthday cakes? Because they were tactile memories. And I want EATING THE BIBLE to create those memories for everyone, so that people don’t just have tactile memories that they associate with holidays (think Turkey=Thanksgiving,) but also tactile memories of the Bible. How cool would that be if your mouth watered every time you read your favorite Bible stories? That’s what I want to do. To make it come alive.

Did you find that your study of Torah was enhanced when you looked at it with this food lens?

Yes, absolutely. It was a way for me to connect with the texts in my own way – to bring the stories alive in a way that spoke to all of my senses. Also, from a historical/academic perspective one of the things that was most fascinating to me was creating the index of food items mentioned in the Bible that’s found at the back of the book. What I discovered was amazing – the Bible can also be a blueprint for healthy eating! Wheat was surprisingly a mainstay of the Biblical diet, goat’s milk (which is supposed to be healthier for you that cow’s milk,) dates, olives, figs, and very little meat. Meat only on special occasions. It’s really very interesting if you think about it.

Seven Species Harvest Chicken

Seven Species Harvest Chicken

How do you expect/want your readers to enjoy your book?

I’d love people to use my cookbook to enhance their weekly tables and to help them bring meaning to their meals. I’d be even more excited if people loved my recipes so much that they returned to my cookbook to make the recipes again and again, just because they taste good!

Now that it is out there, have you thought about writing any other cookbooks?

Oh, well that is the big question! I have enough recipes from all my weekly columns to put out a second cookbook (Eating the Bible Revisited?) and many of my friends joke around with me about it giving new suggestions: Drinking with the Prophets? Eating Ecclesiastes? But in all seriousness I think it would be fascinating to take a look at the Prophets or at the Song of Songs. There’s lots of rich language in there and I think it would be a poetic and culinary challenge. Who knows. We’ll see!

Brick Shaped Turkey Meatloaf

Brick Shaped Turkey Meatloaf

Which was more difficult for you, creating the recipes or finding a connection to the parsha?

Definitely finding the connection. Some weeks were super easy. I could write an entire cookbook just about certain chapters – Genesis alone has enough for hundreds of recipes. I actually thought Leviticus would be the hardest when I first started doing this, I thought it would be all meat from the sacrifices, but it was easy! So many of the sacrifices involved grain and oil and spices that it wasn’t a challenge at all. Deuteronomy was actually the most challenging – there were many chapters there that had absolutely no connection to food and I admit that sometimes it was a stretch.

Are all the recipes easy to make and good for Shabbat?

Most of them, yes. One of my main goals in creating this cookbook and these recipes was to make things that I myself would make easily and be able to bring to my table. But, because I know that not everyone finds cooking and baking as easy as I do, I also added “Alternatives” in a sidebar that give “quick and easy” ideas so that everyone, no matter what experience they have in the kitchen, can find a way to bring more meaning to their meals and help bring the Torah/Weekly Portion to life. Admittedly there are one or two recipes that are quite involved – The Gingerbread Tabernacle is a prime example, but I think every cookbook needs one or two challenge recipes in it, don’t you?


Thanks to Rena for sharing these recipes and insight into her and her book.  Now’s your chance to win a copy!!  In the comments below, let us know what is your favorite bible story?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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About Tamar Genger MA, RD


Tamar lives in New York and is the mother of three amazing children, a Registered Dietitian, professor of Nutrition, and as you can probably guess, a foodie! Tamar loves to travel with her family and visits kosher restaurants wherever she goes. Although she loves the sights, she spends more time talking about the restaurants and food she ate! As a mom and a nutritionist, Tamar tries to balance her passion for healthy cooking with her insatiable desire for chocolate!




102 Responses to In The JOK Kitchen With Eating The Bible *Giveaway*

  1. avatar says: chavie

    This cookbook looks very interesting

  2. avatar says: Devra

    I find all of Genesis fascinating, because of the parenting insights. Maybe that should be MY book–Parenting the Bible. But I am most engrossed by Yitzhak and especially Rivka. The choices she had to make, her intense relationship with her husband, her ability to be silent or speak up, as necessary. All of this provides me with, well, food for thought. :) I’d love to win a copy of Rena’s book!

  3. avatar says: sully1128

    Eating The Bible cookbook would be such a great way to involve the family in studying the Bible. I can’t wait to see the recipes on Leviticus – sounds fascinating!

  4. avatar says: raizy

    This cookbook sound great. I always loved the idea of connecting cooking to that weeks torah portion.

  5. avatar says: Nechama

    My mother would always make something connected to the parsha for the first bit of bereshit…I told her to write a cookbook but I couldn’t think of anything past the toldot! :)

    I think I connect most with Yosef’s story…

  6. avatar says: Esther

    Probably Yitzchak and Rivka – though I don’t know what recipes would be associated with them – challah?

  7. Hmmmm… what is my favorite “story?” Probably learning about the Mishkan. I often teach hilchos Shabbos, whose laws are derived from how we built the Mishkan.

    I’m so interested in seeing the recipes for each parsha. One of my daughters makes treats for her children each week connected to the parsha.

    It’s also interesting to note which are the halachically derived real “Jewish foods” we eat: MATZAH, which we are commanded to eat on Pesach, CHOLENT, which was created by the rabbis as a response to the Karaim who did not accept the Oral Torah, and ate cold food on Shabbos, GEFILTE FISH which was created to avoid the problem of “borer,” and CHALLAH — derived from the manna and the “lechem haponim.”

  8. It would have to be Cain and Abel. Love the idea for the cookbook!

  9. As a science teacher, who happens to love to cook, I love the story of creation. I love meshing the thoughts of the Rabbis and the scientists into something that actually makes sense. This cookbook looks great! It would help with the siyumim my kids have when they need to connect what they bring in to the parsha.

  10. avatar says: Taylor

    I really love the story of Nehemiah. It would be interesting to prepare a meal based on all the food he mentions he provides every day. Looking forward to this book!

  11. avatar says: dana

    wow what a fascinating topic. i really like the idea of connecting to torah through food.

  12. Hannah praying for a baby in Shiloh.

  13. avatar says: brocha

    I can’t think of one favorite, I love how the 12 stones turned to a ladder for Yaakov, the story of Avram and all of his convictions, the story of Moshe….

  14. The love story between Jacob and Rachel…how he met her, was willing to work for her double time, shared in her infertility pain, mourned her terribly and loved her till he died.

  15. avatar says: LaraDyan

    I’ve recently become pretty obsessed with cooking and am really excited to check out this cookbook. What a beautiful story & sentiment; nourishing bodies and minds!

  16. avatar says: Theresa

    I love the story of Ruth. This cookbook looks amazing. Thank you for the opportunity.

  17. avatar says: Chaya

    This is a wonderful idea, a way for us to cook and learn. Kol HaKovod.

  18. avatar says: Jen

    I love the story of creation, especially as seen through my children’s eyes

  19. Torah is life and I love that it has been shared through a cookbook!! Tizku l’mitzvot rabot!!

  20. What a fun thing this would be to do

  21. A truly PHENOMINAL topic that corresponds to the sidrot, and applying that to cooking!
    I think the stories in Genesis are all great, starting from the creation to the death of Jacob. Each have their own significance. I would love to share the recipes with my students, cooking dishes corresponding to each of the stories. It would be so creative to ensure that it is a living Torah that is also practical.

  22. What a great way to help my children remember the parsha!!

  23. avatar says: Rayla

    I love the moment Yaakov and Yosef are reunited after many years of separation.

  24. avatar says: Judy

    Love the idea!! We do weekly Torah Lunch and Learn and try to occasionally tie in food to our study . Would live to win! Jonah is my favorite.

  25. avatar says: betty

    I also make red lentil soup for Parshas Toldos, but would love other ideas for incorporating the parsha into the Shabbos meal.

  26. avatar says: Aviva R

    This is a cool idea, I’d love to get the book.

  27. avatar says: Abigail

    Would LOVE to have this for my Shabbat table! Favorite story is that of Creation…can always find new ways to learn it.

  28. avatar says: dkny

    As we are coming closer to Purim, I have always loved the story of the Megillah – the intrigue and the twisting plots tops any popular thriller novel around.

  29. avatar says: Miriam

    I always liked the story of yo heaved and miriam risking their lives as midwives in Egypt.

  30. Great way to study Bible.

  31. avatar says: elki

    the story of yosef reveling himself to his brothers is definitely the most suspenseful

  32. What a fantastic idea!

  33. avatar says: lsheldon5

    What a great cookbook. It would be a great family activity.

  34. avatar says: Ali

    I would love this cook book and cherish it.

  35. I would really enjoy a cookbook like this. It endorses eating healthier.

  36. The akedah. A Reform Rabbi told me if I didn’t like the story I could just ignore it. I was so upset that a rabbi told me to ignore something in the Torah… so upset that the rabbi told me that maybe Reform Judaism wasn’t right for me if I wasn’t comfortable ignoring parts.

  37. avatar says: sharon

    looks like a lovely cookbook

  38. avatar says: Shimon

    My kids want me to reenact the 180 feast of Achashverosh! I think that the Purim seudah being just a one day version will be a good start.

  39. What an interesting idea and fresh approach.

  40. avatar says: Deanna A

    Always looking for ways to grow in my education of personal values, cooking, creating. Thank you for a better way of eating.

  41. avatar says: Cheryl

    Looks like a very interesting cookbook!

  42. avatar says: Cheryl

    Must check out this cookbook!

  43. avatar says: chana

    I like making lentil soup the week that is in the parsha

  44. Eating the Bible is a fabulous cookbook and inspires much ‘food for Jewish thought.’ Highly recommended!

  45. avatar says: dgantz

    Sounds interesting its a great way to have kids try to find the connection and open a discussion at the shabbas table. We always make lentil soup when appropriate and my MIL makes Marble (Mabul) cake on parhat Noach

  46. What a great idea for a cookbook! I love all the stories of Bereishis, but I also like the story of Matan Torah and the chet ha’egel. While it isn’t exactly a “light” topic, there’s so much to learn from it, especially the extent of Hashem’s love for us, no matter how many times we sin.

  47. avatar says: g brown

    Sounds like a really cool cookbook. I’d love to win it!

  48. avatar says: g brown

    My favourite story is of how David was chosen to be king

  49. avatar says: Lorraine

    I like Deborah, she was my Torah portion for my Bat Mitzvah. I like that strong women are represented in the Torah! I love the idea of this book, it brings new light to Torah study!

  50. What a fascinating idea for a cookbook! I am always intrigued on how the Tanach can lead to new menu ideas and foods based on its teachings. And I love easy recipes. Those that are good, yet don’t tKe too much time in the kitchen. This would be a great cookbook for me.

  51. As a Food historian 9 on a limited budget), I really do hope I win this fantastic cook book. I have seen a few biblical based recipes on the internet, which I have tried, by the way.

  52. avatar says: B. Lerner

    I’ve been intrigued by this idea the first time I read about this book. It would be great to have the book & try out the recipes!

  53. avatar says: Arthur

    It does look interesting. Biblical recipes? Interesting thought.

  54. Great cookbook idea! I like parshat Noach.

  55. avatar says: Jenn S.

    I’m really interested in how you handled those “stretch” weeks…

  56. avatar says: Rebecca

    I find the story about Rachel and Leah, and their dynamic, committed yet jealous relationship very interesting. I don’t have a sister myself, so I am not sure that I can relate, but it is fascinating how they took care of one another, made sacrifices for the future of Am Israel all while competing for one man’s attention.

  57. This cookbook sounds terrific!

  58. avatar says: Rena

    Love this idea for a cookbook.

  59. As the person who does 99.9% of the cooking in our home, I’m fascinated by, and drawn to, the idea of connecting something as simple (and complex) as cooking for the family to the Bible. My favorite Bible story is the story of Ruth, and how she accepted the G-d of the Israelites as her G-d, and the Israelite people as her own.

  60. avatar says: Marina

    The recipes would not only be delicious to explore but also educational, hopeful to win the cookbook

  61. avatar says: Barbara

    Would love this cookbook! Favorite story? Probably Moshe and Pharoah and the story of the Exodus. I did once make a woodblock print of young Moshe with his sheep and the Burning Bush

  62. avatar says: Karen

    The story of Joseph is my favorite

  63. avatar says: Tommy

    This would be good for my collection

  64. Everything looks amazing!

  65. avatar says: Sarah

    This looks great.

  66. avatar says: Barbara L

    I am so excited by this cookbook! This is exactly what I need for my kitchen to for another way to help me teach Torah to my children.

  67. I think my favorite story is Parchas Balak. The only thing (food) I can think of that would relate to it is “Eating crow”, but really, who would want to eat a crow? And, are they even kosher?

  68. sounds marvelous, I always do “parshas red lentils” and would love to do the rest! hatzlocha!

  69. avatar says: EEFisher

    How creative. My wife would love to win

  70. I’m a convert so to me Megilath Ruth is particularly touching to me. Ruth is considered the mother if converts. In Ruth 1:16-17, she professes to her mothers law Naomi that “your people will be my people.” Love this story. <3

  71. avatar says: Linda A

    Looks like a great cookbook!

  72. This would be such a fun cookbook to have!! My favorite Bible story is of Ruth & Naomi. I love Ruth’s dedication in allowing “(Naomi’s) God to be (her) God and (Naomi’s) people to be (her) people”!!

  73. The story of Rachel giving up her groom for Leah.

  74. avatar says: shayna

    joseph! best story

  75. I have ritually cut out and collected Rena’s recipes from the Jerusalem Post magazine weekly. I missed her weekly posts and I would love an actual cookbook that I can refer to when making and baking her delicious and creative recipes!

  76. I love cookbooks that incorporate stories–what an interesting way to go through the bible!

  77. THis would be one of the most unusual cookbooks I have.

  78. avatar says: April

    As a young girl, I was of course touched by the story of Ruth and Naomi. The importance of family and being generous and compassionate are good lessons to learn early.

  79. avatar says: Hana I.

    Sounds like an inspiring book. Hope I win!

  80. avatar says: galgal

    I like going out of Egypt – and there is LOTS of food associated with THAT story. :-)

  81. avatar says: Rivka

    Sounds like a very interesting cookbook! My favorite story of the bible is the exodus from egypt. I love the hagada and the fascinating events revolving around that time period. I guess the connection to food in that one is pretty obvious!

  82. Sounds like a very interesting cookbook. Would be nice to have one to add to my collection of cookbooks

  83. favorite story, Dovid and Goliath

  84. avatar says: cy dank

    Most interesting idea, pairing food and Chumash.

  85. I don’t need to win the cookbook, but I just wanted to say how moved I’ve been by everyone’s responses above! Thank you so much!

    My favorite characters are Moshe and Tziporah. My middle name is Tsipora, and I’ve always felt really connected to her as a character.

    Keep the comments coming!!

    - Rena

  86. avatar says: JAN

    What a fantastic fun way to involve the kids. The story of David and Goliath would make us think of healthy foods to make you stronger and smarter.

  87. avatar says: Yehudit

    can’t wait to try these!

  88. avatar says: Marsha

    I like the way this cookbook allows us to make a connection to Torah. I guess I relate most to Rivka. Aside from sharing a name (my middle Hebrew name), I too suffered from infertility. While my two boys are actually 19 months apart, we struggle with the older one’s surface connection to his Judaism since he attends a secular special needs school while the younger embraces his Judaism and wraps it around himself. I would love to share this food journey with my daughter (my youngest) not only embraces her Judaism, but is also my most adventurous eater.

  89. I think recipes developed with some deeper thought in mind are tasty on many levels. I like the idea of biblical references and ingredients, especially as the food pertains to the portion of each week. And those dishes look wonderful, particularly the seven species harvest chicken.

  90. What a wonderful idea for a cookbook! I think my family situation is flopped from the author- this might get my husband more interested in reading the weekly portion with me ;)

  91. avatar says: Leslie D.

    All the food looks so lovely! My favorite stories of the Bible include the Nativity Story and Daniel in the Den of Lions.

  92. avatar says: Daerae

    Wow! This is FANTASTIC!!! It would be great to pour through along with studying the Torah portions!

  93. avatar says: JoAn

    The seven species harvest chicken looks really good!

  94. avatar says: Susan S

    What a fascinating concept—I have often thought about a recipe for red lentil soup

  95. Not sure what my favourite bible story is, but in general Bereishit is wonderful for seeing our patriarchs and matriarchs as real people who also made mistakes.

  96. avatar says: Martha M

    Love the idea of this! The pictures look delicious.

  97. avatar says: Tracy

    I love cookbooks based on cultural and literary themes – you just don’t see enough of them!

  98. avatar says: D Force

    Am offering a taste of food & history each week in a beginning Hebrew class for adults using letters they have learned and the Hebrew word for a food. This week is the word for lentil, but made megadurra, not stew, as easier to transport. Book sounds fabulous!

  99. avatar says: Toby

    Wouldn’t know where to start! Looks …and sounds…wonderful!

  100. Would love to win a copy of this new cookbook!

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