If you don't eat fish, you're an anti-Semite!
Reb Getsl Vilensky correctly detected anti-Semites using this formula, before the Soviet regime began treating the Jewish people with contempt. Let's try to examine the cause and consequence of this national truth: what is the reason and medical evidence for this infamous “Jewish logic” with a fishy smell? No one would ever claim that Jews would just do something for no reason, as stupidity is not our national feature, is it?
The power of the nation is in the head!
A whole range of symbols is connected with fish in Judaism: the Jewish people in the waters of the Torah: the divine feast and its earthly manifestation in Shabbat: the unsleeping eye of the Almighty, which is symbolized by a fish eye, and many other things.
But what does all this have to do with herring?
As an answer, let us recall the “hoary” joke:
A Ukrainian and a Jew are sitting in a train compartment. The first one takes out a piece of lard, the other one takes out herring and offers it to the Ukrainian encouragingly: it's good for your brain, it's got a lot of phosphorous.
The Ukrainians jumps up, shouting:
“That's why you Jews are so smart and enterprising!,” and starts to eat the herring.
Time goes by and the Ukrainian says:
“Listen, lard is 20 kopecks cheaper, and there's more of it|! Where's the rationalism in that?”
“You see, you’ve only just eaten the herring, and now look how you're thinking!” the Jew replies.
“The code of the nation”, or what makes the brain think more quickly
The fact that Jews have eaten fish from time immemorial is no secret to anyway. From the time of the 2nd temple, it was prescribed to eat fish during Shabbat. Shulchan Aruch [the code of Jewish laws] states that Shabbat feats should include fish twice a day. In order to fulfill this prescription, Jews even chose their place of residence: they settled in places where they could easily get fish for Aruchat Shabbat.
We know that the founder of Hasidism, Baal-Shem-Tov, settled in Medzhybizh for this reason. In the last article we already discussed that herring was the most widely-available and cheapest fish. This has been a fundamental factor for large Jewish families at all time. Fundamental, but not the most important one! The Jewish people has been eating herring since the 16th century, and only in the 20th did science explain the love of such a smart people for a fish that has always been considered cheap; why the Shabbat table, which is famed for its adornment, has for centuries featured a fish “for the poor”? There is one reason: this fish is a treasure trove of unique elements which cannot be found in any other fish in such a concentration. Its benefit for the human body is invaluable, for it is measured by the indicator of “Health”!
“Thursday is fish day” and not bath day
This is what a Jewish tradition of many centuries states. Eating fish on the day of reading the Torah was part of the philosophy and mentality of the nation. We can derive a simple formula: Jews ate fish twice a week + Shabbat. The modern philosophy of healthy nutrition only recently began to bring this formula to the masses. Yelena Grubina, diet expert at the Center for Healthy Nutrition, explains that the rule of most modern diets is to eat fish at least twice a week. This is the foundation of health and longevity.
Yes to herring, no to heart attacks!
In a study, Helen Lindquist proved that 150 grams of fried herring a day significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Omega-3 is vitally important for normal blood circulation, improves the functioning of the heart, increases the body’s endurance and resistance to stress.
“Slim as a herring”
This expression didn’t come from nowhere. Modern society has finally realized its meaning: herring is a vitamin for the digestion. So today, there are hundreds of diets for athletes based on herring, and it is also included in diets for models in the beauty industry, or simply for people who want to lose weight in an easy and healthy way. Diet experts explain that herring fat is completely digested by the human body, it does not “go to your hips”, and only leaves beneficial substances in your body. For example, the colossal amount of protein that we need to play sport or lead an active lifestyle. Additionally, Helen Lindquist proved that adipocytes (fat cells) significantly reduce in number among people who eat herring. In other words, herring breaks down fat.
Herring contains the largest concentration of Omega-3. This unique fat is the only natural cholesterol known to science that is 100% beneficial. Diet experts from all over the world include herring in diets, for this component is not connected with weight gain – it is the only fat that doesn’t make you put on weight! Yelena Grubina says that “positive fat” has a third of the calories of the most dietary chicken breast. As we know, the colder the habit of the fish, the fattier the fish itself is. Herring is one of the most “cold-blooded” families of the underwater world. So its fattiness, and accordingly its healthiness, has no competitors. It’s amazing that our ancestors knew about this long before scientists gained an understanding of “fatty acids”.
To sum up:
Omega-3 is for the brain and the memory, against depression and migraines, during pregnancy and tiredness.
Vitamin D is for strong bones, especially during the teenage years.
Additionally, herring is beneficial for the vision and the thyroid gland. It helps to combat oncology and diabetes, menopause and asthma; it helps your hair and nails, and is a prophylactic against colds, and many other things.
Recipes of Ashkenazi cuisine
In the article “Is Herring Jewish? Or the Journey of the Herring into the Jewish Household” «Еврейская ли селедка? Или путь сельди в еврейский дом» we discussed that herring is not a ready dish, but one type of fauna. It is also wrong to thing that herring is only prepared by salting it. Fresh herring is used in Jewish cuisine as diversely as any other type of fish: its baked, fried, stewed etc.
- 500 ml of milk (slightly warmed)
- 1.5 packet of yeast (active)
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2 cups of flour
- 2 teaspoons of salt
Stir and allow to rise.
Then whip 3 eggs with 3 tablespoons of sugar. Stir in 0.5 of a cup of vegetable oil, and 2.5 cups of flour. Let the dough rise.
2. Filling. Remove the fillet of three fresh herrings from the spine – you don’t have to cut them. Roll out the dough, place the herring on it, add salt and pepper. Cut four large onions, place on the herring, add salt and pepper, and add vegetable oil. The onion must cover the fillet completely. Cover it with another layer of dough. It’s important to pinch the dough together tightly, so that the juice of the filling doesn’t drip out. Put in the oven for 25-30 minutes, after heating it beforehand to 170 degrees. Serve cold.
Fresh herring in batter
Debone fresh herrings (2 pieces per portion), add salt and pepper, cover with 1 tablespoon of chopped tomatoes, 100 grams of grated cheese and finely chopped herbs.
Beat 2 eggs with 70 ml of milk. Place the halves of herring together, the filling in the middle, and dip in breadcrumbs or flour. Place on a hot frying pan or in a fryer. Serve hot.
By seasoning the dish with vinegar or tomato marinade and allowing to cool, you will have a wonderful cold snack.
Remember the rules of kashrut when cooking in the kitchen.
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