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Elul Reflections: 13 Elul 5780

Gefilte Fish

During these uncertain times and at this sacred season, it is important that we find ways to smile, exhale and take delight in simple pleasures.  Not long ago I was reminded of an adorable, now somewhat grainy 14:17 film entitled, “Gefilte Fish” created many years ago by a young filmmaker named, Karen Silverstein.  It is a story of three generations of Jewish women and their relationship to this ubiquitous “fish”. In one memorable scene, “bubbe” holds and describes a wooden bowl and chopper used to prepare her gefilte fish that has been lovingly passed down to her from her grandmother.  The viewer’s attention is then switched to her own daughter, who is busy changing the blades on her food processor to more easily facilitate her homemade gefilte fish.  A moment later, we meet her daughter who takes great pride in her ability to unscrew the jar of gefilte fish, to stage it on a lettuce leaf and to crown it with a slice of carrot!   

This film is often used to trigger discussions in Jewish groups about the challenges confronting families trying to pass down tradition from generation to generation.   Veteran Jewish educator Joel Grishaver remarks: “The film provokes the over-simple truth; as goes gefilte fish, so goes the Jewish people.”

During Elul, I encourage you to watch the film – simply click on the link below, share it with your family and enjoy it with your friends.  It reminds us both how important it is to pass along our traditions to our children and grandchildren and how likely they are to interpret these traditions and, with luck, make them their own.

Click here to watch Gefilte Fish

-- Rabbi Gary Robuck

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