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Tag: Jews

Ten years after a call for help, Iraqi Jewish documents go on display

In June of 2003, the National Archives Preservation Programs received a call for help from Iraq. Sixteen American soldiers had found tens of thousands of documents and 2,700 Jewish books while searching in the flooded basement of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters. The historic material was soaking wet.

And so Doris Hamburg and Mary-Lynn Ritzenthaler boarded a C-130 cargo plane and flew to Iraq.

“It was fascinating and exciting,” said Hamburg, Director of Preservation Programs at the National Archives. “We didn’t know quite what we were heading toward—but we were told everything would be fine.”

Materials being rescued in the flooded basement.

Materials being rescued in the flooded basement.

After Hamburg and Ritzenthaler arrived in Baghdad, they went to a warehouse on the banks of the Tigris River. Inside the warehouse was a freezer truck, and inside that truck were 27 metal trunks.

The trunks held masses of documents and books that had been submerged in four feet of water in the flooded basement of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters in Baghdad. And although the contents had been frozen to preserve them, Hamburg and Ritzenthaler could smell mold when they climbed into the truck.

“Freezing is a common way to stabilize materials when they become wet,” said Ritzenthaler, Chief of the Document Conservation Laboratory. “They acquired a freezer truck—it was quite a feat in those days in Baghdad to find a truck and to … [ Read all ]

Kuchem-Buchem just like Grandma used to make

Joan Nathan. Photo by Michael Lionstar.

Today on “What’s Cooking Wednesday,” we are excited to share a special guest post and recipe from food writer Joan Nathan, who will be speaking at the National Archives on May 25 with Chef Spike Mendelsohn about Jewish holiday traditions and cooking.

 In all the years I have been writing about food, I thought that I would have heard of every Jewish recipe known to mankind. To my delighted surprise, I have not—something that keeps this profession so very dynamic.

The United States is such a multicultural country that every ethnic group can find its culinary roots in one of the many immigrant communities throughout this amazing land. Jews are no different. Our food has gone mainstream in many areas: bagels, brisket, matzo balls, chopped liver, and challah. Who hasn’t heard of challah French toast?

Although the ancestors of three-quarters of America’s Jews came here in the Great Migration from Eastern Europe between the 1880s and early 1900s, today’s Jews are a mishmash of many backgrounds, Jewish and non-Jewish.

I just tasted, for example, one of the best bagels in America at Cincinnati’s Marx Hot Bagels; considered so American that it was featured at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 1976. John Marx, who learned to make bagels from a Jewish bagel baker in the 60s, only learned recently that he … [ Read all ]