Swiss Shabbat

I’ve been eager to hear about Ariel and Eric’s adventures in Switzerland, and this is a great snippet of their new life. Philly will of course miss having them here for Rosh Hashana, but what fun they’re having! To them and everyone, Shana tova, a sweet and happy New Year!

Eric and I moved to Luzern Switzerland recently and had our first extended interaction with the Swiss Jewish Community this Shabbat.

Side Note on Jews in Switzerland:  While there are substantial Jewish communities in Switzerland, they are located in some of the larger cities, including Zurich and Basel.  We are adjusting to the trek to Basel or Zurich (each over an hour by train) to access Kosher meat.  This is made a slightly more interesting challenge as shops are not opened on Sundays in Switzerland, which for kosher shops means they are only open during the week. Yes, this does mean that all shopping for Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah this year had to be completed by midday on Friday.

We were invited over for a Shabbat meal, where we had the pleasure of interacting with an interesting cross-section of Jewish Luzern.  I am not sure our interaction can be considered representative of Swiss Jewish culture, but certainly representative of Jews in Switzerland.  What do I mean by this?  There were very few Swiss at the table.  Our hosts were a couple originally from the US who moved to Switzerland a number of years ago.  All of their children were born in Switzerland.  There was an Israeli couple visiting Switzerland on their honeymoon, and a couple from the US in Switzerland to help with High Holiday services.  And finally, a mother and her adult son, both actually born and raised in Switzerland.  About half of the table spoke German, and about half spoke Hebrew, leaving English as the common language.

Maybe it was because the conversation was in English, and the Hebrew blessings were mainly with the tunes I know, but this meal felt very much like a Shabbat meal in the US.  Which has me thinking:

(1) It is amazing that you can travel half way around the world, and feel right at home in the local Jewish community.

(2) What was the diversity around the Shabbat table when I was in the US?  What languages did everyone speak?  Where were they born?  Would a Jew from Switzerland, Australia, or China feel at home at my Shabbat table?

For this Shabbat, leading right into one of my first High Holiday experiences away from my family, I had a wonderful experience.  Great company and excellent food…

The meal started with homemade Challah, egg salad, corn salad, broccoli salad, gefilta fish with horse radish, and chumus.  We then had chicken cooked in a sweet sauce, with rice. And finally a coffee ice cream pie served with berries for dessert.

Swiss Food Notes

Corn salad: This salad seemed to consist of corn, finely chopped pickles, finely chopped red pepper, and mayonnaise.  In my brief Swiss experience, this type of corn salad seems much more popular here than in the US.  I have regularly seen this on top of prepared green salads here in Switzerland.  Interestingly, I spoke with some Swiss co-workers recently who told me corn was considered cow food until recently.

Berries: The berries served with dessert were red currents.  I have heard of currents before, but do not think I had ever seen fresh currents before arriving in Switzerland.  Here they are including in standard berry mixes.

Recipe: Broccoli Salad

I am not sure if this is particularly Swiss, but it was certainly tasty.  I collected this recipe by watching the preparation, so I have no measurements to share.  Mix the below ingredients together and adjust to your taste.

  • ·         Broccoli cut into small pieces
  • ·         Red onion chopped
  • ·         Craisins
  • ·         Small spoon of sugar
  • ·         Scoop of mayonnaise
  • ·         Lemon juice

Shana Tova!


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