Why there’s more to Jewish brunch than bagels and lox



For the past year, Chanala Rubenfeld has been hosting a lot of cooking events over Zoom through Chabad of Chesterfield, so it only made sense that she would tackle the quintessential items of a Jewish brunch: bagels, lox and schmears.

“What can be more Jewish than bagels and lox,” Rubenfeld says. “However, I figured I had to make it a little more than that. It had to be more interesting than just bagels.”

Beginning June 16, Rubenfeld will give those attending her virtual class something interesting, indeed, with “Bagels, Lox + Schmears: A Three-Part Virtual Cooking Series.” The event promises to teach attendees everything needed to make the perfect brunch at home; from homemade bagels to curing lox to preparing a variety of different schmears, students will walk away with the know-how to impress families and friends. More importantly, though, they will feel a connection to tradition through food that Rubenfeld believes is key to maintaining tradition.

“In general, food connects people, and in Judaism, there is so much heritage and connection with the foods we eat,” says Rubenfeld. “It’s how we connect to our history and our people.”

For Rubenfeld, that connection has taken on an additional meaning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though she was certain that she wanted to continue cooking classes online as a way to engage with people during a time of isolation, she wasn’t quite sure how virtual teaching would go. Quickly, she realized that the format was not only passable; it allowed for an unexpected intimacy amongst attendees that would not be possible in an in-person setting.

“It’s really been amazing doing things on Zoom, because you get to interact with people in their own kitchens,” explains Rubenfeld. “There’s much more of an intimate connection. People aren’t dressed up and out to put on a show. It’s much more relaxed.”

According to Rubenfeld, the virtual cooking classes have been a big hit because they are bringing people together who might not have otherwise taken an in-person class alongside one another. Different generations living in different states have gathered together over the platform to learn everything from challah baking to pickle making. She’s also been thrilled with how interactive the events have been, with attendees having the comfort to engage with one another and shout out questions here and there without the formality of a classroom setting.

To Rubenfeld, that relational aspect of the class is what drives her to share her cooking knowledge.

“This is what tradition is all about,” says Rubenfeld. “The things we pass down you don’t learn in school necessarily, but they become part of the heritage. It’s grounding to have that connection through food.”

Bagels, Lox + Schmears: A Three-Part Virtual Cooking Series is June 16th, 23rd and 30th at 7:30 p.m. The cost is $36 per attendee, which represents the cost of the provided complete cooking kit. To register, visit the event’s Facebook page here