How Pumpkins Became a Jewish Food

Many Thanksgiving meals conclude with pumpkin pie—fittingly, since the pumpkin is a New World crop. But it was also a crop that didn’t take long to find its way onto Old World tables, in part because of Jews, who made it a staple of their own cuisine. Paola Gavin explains:

Pumpkins were first introduced to Europe by the conquistadors in the 16th century, where they were quickly adopted by Sephardi Jews, who then introduced them to Italy after fleeing the Spanish Inquisition. Sephardim and Italian Jews not only began trading in pumpkins, they also incorporated the new gourd into numerous dishes both sweet and savory—especially soups, puddings, fritters, cakes, and preserves—so much so that the new vegetable became associated with Jews. As Claudia Roden writes in The Book of Jewish Food, tortellini di zucca gialla (pumpkin ravioli) “is said to be a Jewish legacy.”

Soon every Jewish community around the Mediterranean and beyond developed its own pumpkin specialties. . . . Farther afield, Bukharan Jews celebrate the New Year with bichak (savory pumpkin pastries) while the Baghdadi Jews of Bombay (now Mumbai) enjoy pumpkin preserves flavored with cardamom.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Jewish food, Sephardim, Thanksgiving

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy