Friday, 20 July 2012


Pnina Jacobson & Judy Kempler


How does your writing reflect your Jewish identity?

In writing our book, One Egg Is A Fortune, we recalled the happy times from our own childhoods, and also more recently in bringing up our children. Many of these memories are associated with Friday night dinners and Jewish festivals, family and friends getting together and the sharing of meals, experiences and stories.  It is these celebrations that make us who we are as a people. Our writing reveals that food and stories are the very ingredients to our Jewish identity.

Has there been a seminal event in your Jewish life that has shaped the person you are today?

Judy: I find it difficult to pinpoint a single determining event in my Jewish life. I had a wonderful childhood and grew up with a strong connection to family, friends, learning and Jewish traditions – the annual ‘open-house’ breaking of the fast with cousins, and cousins of cousins, and friends of cousins, Friday night dinners and long family Sunday afternoon lunches and high teas– these were all sacred occasions and not to be missed.

When I moved to live in Singapore in the 1990s with my husband John and our three children, for the first time I understood what it was like to be in a minority. We were the only Jewish family in our school community, and the differences in our values and cultures became more noticeable to me.  This experience instilled a great sense of Jewish identity, and made me proud to share my heritage with new friends.  Returning home, it became more important that our children had a Jewish education, to learn to be respectful of others, to motivate involvement in our community and to love being Jewish.

The production of One Egg Is A Fortune has also been quite influential in shaping who I am today. The book’s genesis began over 11 years ago. At the time, I was a carer for my late mother-in-law and realised that so much more was needed to help our ageing community. Pnina and I decided that part of the proceeds from this book would support Jewish aged care. This goal in raising funds for the aged has truly deepened my connection to the community, and strengthened my ongoing personal commitment to give back. In addition to this, through our combined determination and sharing this project, Pnina and I have a formed an extraordinary friendship that will last a lifetime.  

Pnina:  I had a wonderful childhood growing up on a farm in Bethal, South Africa, 100km away from Johannesburg. My parents kept a kosher home and we celebrated all the Jewish festivals with family and friends.  Bethal had a thriving Jewish community with over 100 Jewish families which also included a rabbi, a beautiful synogogue and Jewish community hall. We attended cheder (Hebrew school) three times a week, and children’s services on Shabbat. There was also an active Women's Zionist Federation and many charitable events were held to raise funds for Israel. My parents sacrificed a lot for me and my siblings to attend a Jewish day school in Johannesburg. This upbringing has shaped my Jewish identity and I hope I have provided this same loving and supportive home for my own family here in Sydney.

Ma nishtanah? (aka why is your book different from any other book?)

On the inside cover of One Egg Is A Fortune we have a saying, “A wise man once said, ‘We came, we saw, we conquered - let’s eat!’” This captures the spirit of our book. So read, eat and enjoy! And when you’ve read one story, read another, and another. Heaven forbid you should go away hungry!A three-time award winner on the international stage, One Egg Is A Fortune is not just another cookbook. This recognition, combined with the ongoing positive press in online and print media, is evidence of its unique nature and appeal to a wide variety of readers and cookbook enthusiasts, both within and outside of the Jewish community.Our book is as much, if not more, about the people behind the recipes, rather than the recipes alone.  To be able to provide such insight into the families and traditions of 50 prominent Jewish individuals from around the world is indeed unique. We offer a smorgasbord of stories and cuisines from both men and women alike.

While each contributor tells a story, their anecdotes suggest that the enjoyment of food is the common thread that binds us together. No matter our location, profession or prestige, food and family relationships is an underlying universality of our Jewish heritage

The awards

Best in the World  2012 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, Australia-Pacific Fundraising, Charity and Community
Silver Award for cookbooks,  2012 IPPY
Winner  2012 The National Indie Excellence Awards, Cookbooks

Pnina Jacobson and Judy Kempler will be talking Jews and food at the Sydney Jewish Writers' Festival on Sunday 26 August, from 6.15pm - 7.15pm.
Craig Cranko, the photographer for One Egg is a Fortune, will be our next guest blogger.

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