The subject of foodways has, in more than one way, been an enriching agent in the Jewish culture. Professor Simon Bronner at Pennsylvania State University revealed that "The function of foodways, in a lot of Jewish groups, is that it provides a difference. The idea of kashrut is not just that it's for health or for separation of pure items from tainted items, but because it also separates Jews from others and identifies them." Passing down food tradition is done in three ways: passively, actively, and through community. To learn about food passively is to have an emphasis on tasting; to learn actively has an emphasis on finding and making; and to learn through community is to experience food at community gatherings through preparing, serving, and consuming.
As Jews started bringing their culture, including their food, to America, Professor Bronner supposes that much of the food became integrated into the American culture: "A lot of foods that we think of as Jewish are also American foods now. The other complicating factor in [defining what is Jewish food] . . . is the association of foods with certain kinds of celebrations . . . so Roshashana [is always associated] with apples and honey, which are not particularly Jewish, but the combination and the association with certain traditions make it that way. Bagels are the big examples, but I think a good book remains to be written on the Jewish deli and how that became Americanized. So I now walk down the street in Albuquerque, and I walk into a Schlotsky's Deli, and it's offering pizza and cheeseburgers. And so, it's Jewish style, and what's the definition of that? Thick, meaty sandwiches with corn beef, pastrami. Although it is not traditional, it provides a reference to tradition. Matza ball soup with noodles in it, which to me is a contradiction, but it's become more and more common in a lot of the Jewish-style restaurants. The use of lox for example, and even the word 'lox' as a Yiddish word."
A long-time member of Temple Israel, Gytel has been making the challah for the Friday night services for years. "And that's further complicated with your example because there's another aspect of a Jewish community that defines and emphasizes it's community-ness by assigning special roles and is willing to tolerate variation because of the idea that those people are allowed to be 'ritual specialists,'" commented Simon Bronner.
Temple Israel has also been involved in creating such events as gourmet dinners and deli day, which were open to the Springfield community. Complementing this, is another discovery of Professor Bronner: "Another development I have found in small towns is that the synagogue often takes the role of 'community kitchen' in producing foods that people would not at home. So ours, for example, holds the Break the Fast with doing a meal. We'll have a challah bake that they make available. They also will make a spaghetti dinner as a social, which says another thing about American culture in the synagogue."
Active learning is defined by consciously recognizing the difference in produced foods. One who learns passively also learns by tasting, smelling, and seeing food served to them, which can be done in the Jewish home or the community. Community Deli Days and Community Gourmet Dinners are both examples of passing down food tradition informally through the community. Two testimonies of the Community Gourmet Dinners are from Gytel and Rogene. Learn about informal foodways through the personal accounts of several Jewish women in the Ozarks.