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Collection of Jewish Cookbooks Donated By Sheilah Kaufman

image: capital kosher cookingThe I. Edward Kiev Judaica Collection has recently benefited from the donation of one hundred Jewish cookbooks from the library of Sheilah Kaufman, a noted culinary historian, author and lecturer based in Potomac, Maryland. 

The cookbooks, most of them published in America over the last 50 years, deal with a wide range of regional kosher cuisines, including Algerian, Bukharan, Sephardic, East European Ashkenazic, Hungarian, Iraqi, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Israeli dishes.  Also treated are kosher varieties of other national cuisines, including Chinese, French, Italian, American, as well as Cajun and other “exotic” cuisines from around the world.  There are also general cookbooks with chapters on Jewish food or Jewish-style recipes.       

The Kaufman donation includes collections of recipes issued by numerous American Jewish organizations, in particular synagogues, sisterhoods, women’s auxiliaries and other women’s groups and committees, including Bnai Brith Women, Hadassah, National Council of Jewish Women, Pioneer Women, Women’s American ORT and Women’s League, as well as hospital, health and charitable organizations such as the Jewish Foundation for Retarded Children.  Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, Orthodox and Hasidic synagogue affiliations are all represented.  Compilations from the Washington and New York regions predominate, with other exempla from Illinois, Georgia, California, and Canada.

There are cookbooks for specific dishes or courses, such as hors d’oeuvres, appetizers, deli, second helpings (!), desserts, cakes, snacks and yummies, party food, wines and holiday – especially Passover – meals.  There are cookbooks devoted specifically to challah or matzah, children’s food, and frozen recipes.  All palates and needs are accommodated, such as low-carb, low-fat and fat-free, low-cholesterol and no-cholesterol, meatless and vegetarian, or simply the healthy and the nutritional, not to mention gourmet and delectable.  A few of the cookbooks cater to old-fashioned dishes and nostalgia, and others address presentation - the elegant and the aesthetic.     

Sheilah Kaufman’s welcome donation encompasses books by famous or well-known food writers, such as Florence Greenberg, Gil Marks, Jeffrey Nathan, Ruth Sirkis, Nira Rousso and Nela Rubinstein (wife of Arthur Rubinstein).  Several of the many cookbooks authored by the collector herself, including Simply Irresistible, Let’s Eat and (with Ginnie Manuel) Kosher French Cuisine Plus, also figure in this most tasteful complement to the Kiev Collection’s expanding holdings in the field of Jewish material culture.

The cookbooks are housed and available to researchers and chefs in the Kiev Room on the 7th floor of the Gelman Library, 2130 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20052.  For further information, please contact Brad Sabin Hill, Curator of the Kiev Judaica Collection, at hebraica@gwu.edu.


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