The Adventures of Matzah Mama

Matzah Mama

Sam Kahan, left, debuts her Jewish Superhero, Matzah Mama, at the 2012 ISJL Education Conference.

By ISJL Education Fellow, Sam Kahan

During the annual ISJL Education Conference, Education Fellows traditionally present some sort of “schtick” during meals. This year the Fellows pondered the question: “if you were a Jewish superhero, who would you be?”

As the daughter of an excellent Jewish mother, I know that feeding those you love is both a Jewish value and, at times, a superhuman accomplishment. Having inherited my mother’s drive for preparing and sharing meals, I had to incorporate food into my wished-for superpower.

So, in front of a room of Jewish educators from around the South, Matzah Mama made her debut:

My passion for feeding others manifests itself in many ways. For one, I love to cook for friends when they stop by my house. It is in my blood, or so my mother tells me. But my desire to share sustenance with others is not limited to friends and family, rather, it extends to the community at large.

A few years ago, a friend and I were involved with an organization that set up a temporary food pantry on the corner of a busy Baltimore intersection during Thanksgiving. There we were: armed with hundreds of thanksgiving meals, donated clothing, blankets and other items essential for surviving a brutally cold winter on the Baltimore streets. As I served a tremendous number of homeless people who stopped by to receive aid, I found myself thinking. I thought of what a mitzvah it was that this group of people took time out of their Thanksgiving, a day reserved for family and friends, to make sure that the larger community was taken care of.

I reflect back on this moment and recognize the teachings of Judaism that not only encourage, but command us to care for those who are hungry. The aspiration to feed friends, family, and community echoes Jewish values and is a Jewish superpower we should all work to develop. Matzah Mama will make her next appearance at Rodef Sholom Temple in Hampton, Virginia, during a Passover program about creating family traditions, be sure to watch out for her!

If you were a Jewish superhero, who would you be?

Posted on February 11, 2013

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