When you imagine a kitchen, you focus on its potential to serve not just food, but entertainment, conversation and tradition. The foods prepared in a kitchen are chosen by the chef-in-residence for their pragmatic nutritional value, fueling and sustaining a family. But as the ingredients are assembled, equally important is the deeper resonance: the passing on of family custom, the forging of an atmosphere that binds people together over food and occasionally wine. You might think of your own kitchen, or your mother’s, or your grandmother’s; the further back you go, the more likely that your food memories are saturated not just with nutritional value, but with a significance that approximates religion.
Shira Ginsburg remembers her grandmother’s kitchen, (for 40+ years located in Troy, NY), as a special place: a meeting place for family, friends and neighbors, with what she describes as a “soundtrack” of stories “of survival and hope, of joy and sorrow shared, of love of family and Judaism, all woven in an aroma of cooking and baking.”
It is this fusion of food, family, tradition and song that Ginsburg brings to her one-woman show, “In Bubby’s Kitchen,” running twice this weekend as a benefit for East End Temple in New York City, where she is the cantor. The show will be performed downtown, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
Shira’s grandparents were Jewish partisans, members of the Bielski partisan group depicted in the film “Defiance.” This part of her heritage provided some of the Yiddish songs that appear as part of the show, and Ginsburg notes that the entire musical performance reflects her theater training, her family, and her history.
"Bubby's kitchen was a strong link in our family -- where sweet, sour, bitter and salty mixed-and the memories of those endless meals remains on all of our tongues,” she reflects. “This is a story about owning your family stories and how it shapes you, how I became this strong professional Jewish woman. I was channeling stories from my childhood, created a show, and became each of the different women in my family.”
“Bubby’s Kitchen” was originally conceived and performed in fulfillment of Ginsburg’s cantorial investiture and degree at Hebrew Union College on April 1st 2009. Tickets ranging from $18 - $180, with handicapped seating available for $36, are on sale now for the two benefit performances this weekend:
Saturday night, December 5 at 7:30pm - followed by a dessert reception
Sunday, December 6 at 2pm - followed by a talkback discussion with Rabbi David Adelson. .
And - thanks to Shira for hooking me up with the tickets - I’ll be at the Saturday night performance – perhaps I’ll see you there!