Matzah Balls, Alsace
This is a drawing by the artist Alphonse Lévy showing a woman preparing matzah balls for the Pesach meals.
The woman is smiling and is dressed in work clothes., She seems very used to making this special Pesach food! On the table next to her is a large bowl of matzah balls and a pestle and mortar for preparing the spices. The title of the picture is written in Judeo-Alsatian and reads "Matzah Gnepflish." The caption under the drawing reads Pesach (in Hebrew) and matzah balls (in French).
Alphonse Lévy (1843-1918) was a Jewish artist from Alsace (a region in eastern France) who drew many pictures of Alsatian and Algerian Jews performing various rituals and customs. This was at a time when many European Jews were abandoning religion for the sake of integrating into modern society. Some of his drawings were included in Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's late nineteenth-century book about the Jews.
This picture could be used in Jewish Studies lesson in preparation for Pesach. Teachers could use it as a trigger to a discussion on Pesach foods and traditions. It could also be one of various pictures presented in a lesson about different Jewish communities.
Describe the picture.
Who do you think the woman is?
What is she doing?
How do you think she feels about her task?
Why do you think the artist chose to draw this particular moment?
Where do you think this scene was taking place?
Imagine you are interviewing this woman. What questions would you ask her?
Which languages appear on the postcard?
Who do you think the image of the man in the bottom right-hand corner represents?
Do all Jews eat matzah balls at Pesach? Which groups of Jews traditionally eat this food?
Do you help your family prepare the food for Pesach?
Share a family recipe with your classmates.
A lot of people associate memories with food. Share a food memory from Pesach.
DID YOU KNOW?
In Yiddish matzah balls are called kneidlach (plural) or kneidel (singular). This word was the winning word for the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.