How Did Artichokes Become a Jewish Vegetable?

According to a recent ruling by Israel’s chief rabbinate, a pious Jew who wishes to eat an artichoke must first remove the leaves and inspect them for insects; any other preparation is a violation of kashrut. Italian Jews, however, have been eating artichokes without such precautions for centuries, and deep-fried whole artichokes are so associated with the Roman Jewish community that they are known simply as carciofi alla giudia. Dan Rabinowitz comments on the earliest Jewish texts that mention the vegetable:

The history of how the fried artichoke became associated with Jews is somewhat murky but likely dates at least to the 16th century. But we have even earlier manuscript evidence that artichokes were eaten by Jews. Indeed, they were eaten at a time when Jews were especially punctilious regarding food: Passover. A number of medieval haggadahs contain illustrations of maror [the bitter herb consumed as part of the seder]; most include a leafy green of some type. Two haggadot, the Rylands and the Brother, composed in the mid-to-late-14th century, depict maror as an artichoke. . . .

Students of history will recall that this is not the first time the norms and traditions of the Italian Jews came into conflict with different prevailing norms among other groups of Jews. [The most notable such incident was] the controversy engendered by the publication of the pamphlet Divrei Shalom v’Emet [“Words of Peace and Truth”] by Naftali Herz Wessely in [1782], which called for educational reform among [Jews in the Hapsburg lands]. After his pamphlet was found objectionable and insulting by leading rabbis, Wessely wrote to rabbis in Italy, believing that many of the ideas he was advocating, like a graded curriculum, a non-exclusive emphasis on Talmud, and use of the [Gentile] vernacular, were well within the norms of their tradition. In fact, with [one] exception, all [of these Italian rabbis] agreed [with Wessely] and supported him.

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More about: Israeli Chief Rabbinate, Italian Jewry, Jewish food, Kashrut, Naftali Herz Wessely, Religion & Holidays

 

Terror Returns to Israel

Nov. 28 2022

On Wednesday, a double bombing in Jerusalem left two dead, and many others injured—an attack the likes of which has not been seen since 2016. In a Jenin hospital, meanwhile, armed Palestinians removed an Israeli who had been injured in a car accident, reportedly murdering him in the process, and held his body hostage for two days. All this comes as a year that has seen numerous stabbings, shootings, and other terrorist attacks is drawing to a close. Yaakov Lappin comments:

Unlike the individual or small groups of terrorists who, acting on radical ideology and incitement to violence, picked up a gun, a knife, or embarked on a car-ramming attack, this time a better organized terrorist cell detonated two bombs—apparently by remote control—at bus stops in the capital. Police and the Shin Bet have exhausted their immediate physical searches, and the hunt for the perpetrators will now move to the intelligence front.

It is too soon to know who, or which organization, conducted the attack, but it is possible to note that in recent years, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has taken a lead in remote-control-bombing terrorism. Last week, a car bomb that likely contained explosives detonated by remote control was discovered by the Israel Defense Forces in Samaria, after it caught fire prematurely. In August 2019, a PFLP cell detonated a remote-control bomb in Dolev, seventeen miles northwest of Jerusalem, killing a seventeen-year-old Israeli girl and seriously wounding her father and brother. Members of that terror cell were later arrested.

With the Palestinian Authority (PA) losing its grip in parts of Samaria to armed terror gangs, and the image of the PA at an all-time low among Palestinians, in no small part due to corruption, nepotism, and its violation of human rights . . . the current situation does not look promising.

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More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror