My favorite Jewish tradition is during the Passover Seder when we take our drops of wine from our cups for each of the 10 plagues
Jackie Zitelman Horvitz, Amy Zitelman and Shelby Zitelman, Soom Foods
How did you come to do what you do?
Jackie: It all started when I began dating Omri (my now husband) who had a small tahini distribution company in Northern Israel. At the time he was the only one who worked with tahini made in Ethiopia. When Shelby and Amy came to visit Israel I took them to Omri's Moshav up north, Shavei Tzion and they learned more about good, high quality tahini. Omri's mom made a carrot cake and one of the ingredients was tahini- they were shocked! We all decided that we had to figure out a way to get high quality tahini to the States and to make it available to at-home and professional chefs.
Shelby: Coming from a family of "family businesses", I was inspired by the entrepreneurial mindset and journey. I studied entrepreneurial management in school, and post-college worked a few jobs supporting entrepreneurs in various ways. When Omri introduced me to tahini, it sparked that entrepreneurial discovery process and, long story short, I started writing the business plan for Soom Foods!
Amy: my joke is that Shelby had a business degree, Jackie married a sesame expert, and I needed a job!
What is your favorite Jewish holiday or tradition?
Jackie: Amy and I both love Passover! It’s around Amy’s birthday so a good reason for all of us to get together. Amy also remembers sneaking wine with our cousins when we were young. My favorite Jewish tradition is during the Seder, when we take our drops of wine from our cups for each of the 10 plagues. I was once taught that we do this because wine is a symbol of our delight and others suffered in order for us to become free. Therefore we take out some wine in order to show that just as our cup of wine is not complete, our joy is not complete as others had to die for us to get to where we are.
Shelby: My favorite holiday is Sukkot and/or Tu B’Shevat. I love that Judaism has such an intimate connection with agriculture.
What is your favorite food that you associate with Judaism?
Jackie: A really good, fresh bagel with lox or whitefish salad. I guess it’s because I live in Israel and I crave a good bagel and lox every now and again.
What is your earliest memory of being Jewish?
Jackie: I would have to say it was when I wanted a ham sandwich and my parents told me “No, we are starting to keep Kosher.”
Amy: LOL! Jackie, I was going to say that we started keeping kosher when I was in Kindergarten and I wasn’t able to eat the Pepperoni pizza at school anymore. I remember crying because I had to get a cheese slice instead.
Shelby: I honestly have no idea! I have strong early memories of our synagogue and running around the JCC, but there is not one particular memory that comes to mind!
How do you incorporate Judaism into your daily life?
Jackie: I say the Shema with Liel, my almost two-year old daughter, every night before putting her to sleep.
Amy: Taking the time to separate Shabbat (Friday night and Saturday) from the rest of my work week helps me keep in perspective what’s really important: family, friends, and nourishment (physical, emotional, spiritual).
Shelby: My husband and I also say Shema to our son, Malcolm, every night before bed. It's a really beautiful time for our family.
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