Before we were crunchy


It’s Jewish American Heritage Month (you mean you forgot already?) and the National Archives is indulging the Jewish foodie within us all.

On May 25, Joan Nathan and Spike Mendelsohn will "discuss Jewish holiday traditions and cooking in America" at Archives HQ.

"Jewish holidays are defined by food, playing a major part in rituals past and present," the Archives tells us, in case you wanted to know.

Exhibits at the May 25 event will be incorporated into the "What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?" exhibition to be launched June 10. It explores the effect of the government on our diet.

For the sordidly inclined, the Archives is located within shouting distance of the treif place Jack Abramoff claimed he did not own (but did.)

He called it "Signatures"– geddit? For all the signatures on display on the original Declaration of Independence, just a block away.

Signatures’ notoriety derives from its free meals Abramoff lavished on pols. But it has a Jewish scandal as well.

Abramoff claimed he did not own it, apparently because owning a treif establishment, under kashruth rules prevailing in the DC area, would have precluded him from owning the two kosher establishments he ran nearby.

Yet give the man his chutzpah due — those places, like Signatures, also referenced the archives: Stacks and Archives. In combination, the three names were pretty much a nose-thumb to the rabbinate, no?

Anyhoo, those so inclined can temper whatever heimishe feelings they get from the Jewish content in the "What’s Cooking?" exhibition at 700 Pennsylvania by strolling a block over to 801 Penn and taking in the residual sleaziness. Wikipedia says Signatures — shut down, natch — has yet to be replaced, and that’s correct, as far as I remember from the last time I walked by. I’m down there tomorrow for an unrelated Archives release, and will check it out.

But back to heimishe: The Archives is releasing two photos in advance of the event. One of Jewish troops celebrating a massive seder in Paris, in 1919:

The other is quite wonderful, taking us back to a time when diddling around with food was considered a good thing.

A New York Bakery run by a B. Rosenblum writes to the Defense Health and Welfare Service. Apparently, Jewish customers wanted for their Jewish rye some of the "enrichment" that the army was injecting into its white bread.

Talk about assimilation.

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