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The Jewish Cultural Tapestry: International Jewish Folk Traditions

Steven Lowenstein, New York, Oxford University Press, January 1, 2000
Here, in one compact volume, is an illuminating survey of Jewish folkways on five continents. Filled with fascinating facts and keen insights, The Jewish Cultural Tapestry is a richly woven fabric that vividly captures the diversity of Jewish life. All Jews are bound together by the common thread of the Torah and the Talmud, notes author Steven Lowenstein, but this thread takes on a different coloration in different parts of the world, as Jewish tradition and local non-Jewish customs intertwine. Lowenstein describes these widely varying regional Jewish cultures, highlighting the often surprising similarities between Jewish and non-Jewish local traditions, and revealing why Jewish customs vary as much as they do from region to region. We visit the great Ashkenazic and Sephardic cultures of Europe and the Mediterranean; the unique Jewish cultures of Iraq, Persia, Ethiopia and Yemen; the little-known cultures of the Bukharian Jews of Central Asia, the Cochin Jews of India, and the Kaifeng Jews of China. We read about regional religious practices, wedding ceremonies and marriage customs; different traditions of Jewish music and Jewish dress; and the origins of Jewish names.Lowenstein also surveys Jewish cuisine around the world, offering easy-to-prepare traditional recipes, ranging from kugel and blintzes to Malawach from Yemen, T'beet from Iraq, Mina de Cordero from Turkey, and Passover Soup from Uzbekistan. From Europe to India, Israel to America, The Jewish Cultural Tapestry offers an engaging overview of the customs and folkways of a people united by tradition, yet scattered to the far corners of the earth. Packaged in an attractive large format, this beautifully illustrated volume would be a meaningful gift for the holidays.