Cooking with Parshah – Terumah

Terumah is the Parshah that is the first to talk about the construction of the Mishkan – the temporary Temple.

The Mishkan is full of wonderful things, whose purpose is not apparent. For this Shabbat, I have decided to make a couple of things that could remind us of the foods connected to the Mishkan and its purpose, and since I am going to have children as guests, I want them to figure out why they are eating these specific foods.

So, Show Bread

ל  וְנָתַתָּ עַל-הַשֻּׁלְחָן לֶחֶם פָּנִים, לְפָנַי תָּמִיד.

30 And thou shalt set upon the table showbread before Me always.

For the bread to be as close to authentic ancient as it could be I used a sour starter. However, I panicked at the last moment, as it often happens when I have many guests and decided to add some yeast. It can be totally omitted if you are in the adventurous mood.

I “fed” my starter two days before and it expanded nicely. In the evening, I prepared the sour sponge:

50 g warm water
50 g rye flour
20 g sour starter
Just mix it all nicely, cover and let sit overnight on the counter.

In the morning I added

1 tsp of yeast
1 tsp of honey
1 cup warm water

And then, the fun part

1 cup barley flour
1/2 cup millet flour
1/2 cup spelt flour
1 cup bread flour
2/3 cup pure olive oil (remember, it’s all about pure oil this week)

Mix everything together and knead for about 5-8 minutes. The dough is surprisingly pliable. Cover it and leave to rise for about 2 hours. IMG_5093.JPG

After that, shape the dough into two flat-bread loaves.

I am sure our ancestors didn’t do it, but I still glazed the loaves with some egg-wash and sprinkled them with flax and sesame seeds.

I baked them at 410 F for about 10 minutes and for another 15 at 350 F.

Olive Oil Cake

Since there is a lot in this Parshah about oil “שֶׁמֶן, לַמָּאֹר” – oil for the light; מְנֹרַת – menorah where this oil would be burning, I made the cake with pure olive oil. I know it will be moist, I am hoping it will be tasty too – will update you after the Shabbat ends.


Basically, this is a combination of almond and regular flour, eggs, sugar, olive oil and citrus zest.
Drizzled with some lemon glaze after backing.

As usual, use the time of baking for some D’var Torah (from Dr. David Ackerman)

“They shall make an ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high.”  (Exodus 25:10)

Survey after survey report American Jews are proud to be Jewish and have a strong sense of belonging to the Jewish people. ParashatT’rumah offers a challenge to that sense of pride.

Parashat T’rumah opens with an appeal within a command: ”Tell the Israelite people to bring me gifts; you shall accept gifts from every person whose heart so moves him.” (Ex. 25:2) The goal is to collect the materials (which are listed in the next verse) to build the Mishkan, or Tabernacle, which will serve as the Israelites’ center of sanctity during their desert wanderings.  

 Many chapters later, when the Torah recaps the story, it says, And everyone who had in his possession… brought them.” (Ex. 35:23) The rabbis explain the use of the passive voice with this story: when Jacob is about to die, he informs his children of the future appeal to build the Mishkan and exhorts them to prepare the materials in advance and be ready.  As in most families, some do and some don’t.  So, generations later, when Moses relays God’s request, some of Jacob’s descendants have something they inherited to contribute, while others don’t and therefore must prepare their contribution themselves (Exodus Rabbah 33:10).  

Pride in one’s heritage is a good thing.  However, pride in one’s heritage means pride in what others before you have done.  T’rumah reminds us we cannot rest upon the contribution of others, but rather, must add our own contribution, too.  And since the Mishkan requires a variety of materials, it’s clear there are different ways to contribute.  So, what has Jewish pride motivated you to do lately?

Shabbat Shalom!

Update: the cake was really delicious, moist and light with a lovely lemony crust created by the simplest lemon glaze.


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