Parashat Lekh L'kha--Genesis 12:1-17:27
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Questions for Young Children

• Abram came to a new country which we now call Israel. Do you know any other Israeli foods beside tehina?
• What do you think would be hard for Abram after leaving his home for a new country?
• God makes a promise to Abram that he will have children. Why do Abraham and Sarah think that is the best promise God could possibly make?

Questions for Older Children
• Abram and his family are told by God to leave their home and go to a new place that God will show them. They do! Do you know where your family lived before they lived here? How hard was it for them to move?
• Is there anyone in your class who had to move from his or her home? Do you know how that person felt about the move?
• God made a covenant, a promise, with Abram. If he moved to the Land of Israel, God would make him a great nation. Why
does God wait so long to give Abraham and Sarah a child so the nation building can begin?
• Do you think Abram would have left his home in Ur if God hadn’t promised him a reward?

Questions for Teens and Adults
• What message is conveyed to us by learning that our patriarch is an immigrant?
• Why do you think there is such a prolonged wait for a child for Abraham and Sarah?
Tehina is a food enjoyed by both the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac. Is there a way you can imagine food connecting Israelis and Arabs?
• Is family planning for Jews a private or communal issue?

 

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 Invite your family and guests to connect other foods to the parasha. For example…

• This parasha deals with Abraham and Sarah’s move to Eretz Yisrael.

Prepare a meal with as many Israeli products as you can find. (When shopping, your younger children will enjoy seeing Hebrew letters on the labels).

Examine the cookbook entitled Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, to discover Arab-Jewish fusion cooking.

Discuss whether food helps bridge the Ishmael-Isaac and Hagar-Sarah divide (the Arab-Israeli divide).
What role does food play when Sarah banishes Hagar from her household?

• Abraham and Sarah are immigrants.

Prepare a Shabbat dinner that mirrors your family’s immigrant background or one that pairs the foods of cultures that have been in conflict like Indian and Pakistani foods, Greek and Turkish or Japanese and Korean.

Discuss the role food could play in bringing people together who otherwise are in conflict with each other? Notice that these other cultures also live in close proximity like Israelis and Arabs.

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Parasha in a Nutshell

 Our national history begins in this parasha with the uprooting of Abram and his family from urban Ur to an unknown God-chosen western destination. When Abram reaches the Land of Israel, his and Sarai’s characters unfold as they interact with foreign nations like Egypt and their extended family like Lot. In this parasha God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah signifying their new covenant (brit) and connection with God. Hagar, Abraham’s concubine, bears a son named Ishmael, and God promises that Sarah will bear a son and he will maintain the covenant with that son. The parasha ends with a mass circumcision which might not be suitable table talk.

Find the food connection…

וַהֲקִמֹתִי אֶת-בְּרִיתִי בֵּינִי וּבֵינֶךָ, וּבֵין זַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ לְדֹרֹתָם--לִבְרִית עוֹלָם:  לִהְיוֹת לְךָ לֵאלֹהִים, וּלְזַרְעֲךָ אַחֲרֶיךָ

 I will maintain My covenant between Me and you, and your offspring (seed) to come, as an everlasting covenant throughout the ages, to be God to you and to your offspring (seed) to come.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              --Genesis 17:7

Seeds! and in this case, ground sesame seeds—tehina. I suggest buying the Israeli version, Yehuda Tehina which comes in an 11 oz. can.

Tehina is eaten by all descendants of Abraham and it reminds us of Eretz Yisrael—the place where God led Abram and his family.

Easiest use of sesame seeds-- buy a hallah with sesame seeds or serve halvah for dessert. For a challenge, try this soup recipe with tehina or the tehina salad dressing.

The Side Dish

Get yourself moving! That’s not me talking to you, that’s God speaking to Abram. But, perhaps it’s a good week for each of us to move in a direction that could change our lives in a positive way. It may not involve leaving our home but invite your guests to think about a metaphorical journey that could change their lives. This parasha literally turns Abram and his family into immigrants with God promising a better future in a new land. God tells Abram in no uncertain terms to get himself and his family moving and God will show him the correct destination. With Abram’s move comes a name change. How many of your families have also had a name change along your family’s historical journey? Abram and Sarai might have liked a taste of home--the so-called Ur-meal. But, this week I bring you tastes from their new country, the Land of Israel.

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A Dash of Hebrew
The Hebrew word for seed is zera. The plural is z’raim. As in English, it can mean seeds of fruits and vegetables as well as progeny.

A Dash of Music + Video
Together with toddlers and younger children, you can watch an episode of the Israeli version of Sesame Street (Rehov Soomsoom). This particular episode on YouTube features the very pink puppet Abigail and her human friend singing in Arabic and Hebrew. The episode touches on the theme of the brotherhood of the descendants of Abraham. There are English subtitles.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdpjO_8L3r8

A Dash of Halakha
There is an entire section of the Mishnah called Seder Z'raim. This first (and shortest) book of the Mishnah deals with blessings and laws about food. In most prayer books you can find blessings, b’rakhot, designated for specific foods besides bread. See how many different b'rakhot for food you can find.

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03 beresishit leklehka spinach soupSpinach Soup with Tehina
Pareve and vegan--serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ c. chopped celery
  • 4 c. chopped, frozen spinach
  • 5 c. vegetable broth
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme or ½ Tbsp. fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. miso
  • 2 Tbsp. tehina
  • 1 tsp. zatar
  • ½ tsp. ground pepper
  • lemon juice to taste

Instructions

  1. Sauté the onion in oil in a large soup pot for 10 min.
  2. Add garlic, celery and spinach and sauté an additional 5 min. stirring frequently.
  3. Add stock, thyme, and zatar and bring to a boil.
  4. Lower heat to medium and simmer uncovered for 10 min.
  5. Add miso, tehina, and pepper.
  6. Remove soup from the heat and allow to cool.
  7. Using an immersion blender, purée. You can also use a food processor or a blender, but process in batches so the liquid doesn’t seep out.
  8. Return soup to pot and gently reheat.
  9. Serve with a splash of lemon juice.

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Tehina Salad Dressing
Pareve

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 Tbsp. tehina
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • salt, pepper to taste

Instructions

Mix ingredients together in a bowl or food processor.

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