Food, community, and culture are intrinsically linked, and this is seen clearly with Dini Freudlich’s family, where the love of food and family spills over into her kosher restaurant in Beijing. Dini Freudlich has five children: Mushka (20), Devora (19), Chava (13), Aaron (10), Grunia (9), Eleh (4, “and as he liked to remind me, almost 5!”). Her and her husband Rabbi Shimon Freundlich work with a company called Chabad that promotes Jewish welfare and sponsors international outreach programs. All of the children attend Ganeinu International School, which Dini helped set up. However, because it is hard not to disrupt the children’s schooling by moving around, the two elder schoolchildren (Chava and Aaron) are partly homeschooled. They have a home program in the afternoon, which is a Jewish online course that is taken by about 1,000 international students worldwide.
The little chefs were Dini’s youngest two children and three friends, who giggled as they helped each other set up. They shyly explain the symbolism of the food Dini has beautifully set up for the Jewish New Year on a table. The October holiday is an important one for Jews as the October 2 2016 marks the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The sample includes food such as apples and honey “for a sweet year,” round-shaped chalah bread to indicate the full circle of the new year, and a fish head (“ew!”) to symbolize being ahead of things instead of behind them. Sweet food is clearly a theme with sweet rice, pomegranates (full of seeds, symbolizing many good things to come), and carrots cooked in sugar.
Kosher food is hard to find in Beijing, so Dini’s restaurant is a social space as well. This helps to create a home away from home for the Jewish communities abroad. Most of the ingredients can be found in local stores such as April Gourmet, Jenny’s, BHG, and so on. Specific kosher foods may have to be imported from the US or Israel, and there is a small shop next to the main restaurant to stock these and provide for those following a kosher diet.
Honeycakes 蜂蜜蛋糕 (1 portion)
2 tablespoons honey 两勺蜂蜜
2 tablespoons butter 两勺黄油
1 egg 一个鸡蛋
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence 半茶勺香草精
3 tablespoons brown sugar 三勺红糖
4 tablespoons flour 四勺面粉
1/4 teaspoon baking powder 1/4茶勺泡打粉
1. Add honey and butter to mason jar, microwave for 30 seconds to melt.
2. Add the remaining ingredients in the order of the ingredients list above. If Kosher, be careful to crack the eggs in a separate bowl to check for bloodspots before adding to the mixture.
3. Mix well. Microwave for 3 – 5 minutes (depending on your microwave) until they have risen.
4. Be careful of hot jars! Eat straightaway or screw lid on and tie with a ribbon to give as the perfect New Years gift.
This article originally appeared on page 21-22 of the October 2016 Issue of beijingkids magazine. Click here for your free online copy. To find out how you can obtain a hard copy, contact email@example.com.
PHOTOS: DAVE’S STUDIO