Dec 29 2009

Julbord (or smorgasbord to you on the other side of the duckpond)

Before the new year arrives and the Christmas holiday becomes a memory, I thought I would talk a little bit about the Swedish custom of the Julbord. To my friends here in Sweden, Ok, you dont have to read this. You already know what Im talking about. But to those of you still back in my mother country, you might find this interesting.

The Swedish word smörgåsbord is a combination of the word smörgås which means sandwich (or literally “buttered”) and bord, which means table; so a smörgåsbord is literally a sandwich table, which is a bit of an understatement since there is a lot more than sandwiches on it. The classic Swedish Julbord is a large smörgåsbord traditionally eaten with family and friends on Christmas Eve. From the beginning of December, most restaurants offer, for a fixed price, a Julbord dinner several times a day until just before Christmas. While they vary in size and price, these Julbords offer an astonishing selection of Swedish dishes. And if you go to eat Julbord with Swedish friends and family, it’s a good idea to know how to do it.
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Dec 5 2009

Being Jewish in Swedish

Once again this is something I wrote awhile ago, around 2004. In the years that have passed, my son has had his Bar Mitzvah and I now sit on the board of an organization called Progressive Judendom i Stockholm. We are working to bring Reform Judiasm to Stockholm. And the group of J.A.P.S. that formed all those years ago still (with some comings and goings) meet for holidays and other times. Our children are like cousins to each other and the adults in the group are more than just friends. They have become family.

An American Jew in Stockholm

It’s funny how things change the older one gets – one’s sense of immortality, one’s idea of how to live a good life, the color of one’s hair, the list of things that are important.

I’ve spent a long time living here in Stockholm. I’ve spent an even longer time being Jewish – pretty much from birth, actually. My parents were Jewish. Both sets of grandparents were also Jewish. All my family and the relatives around me were Jewish. But I didn’t grow up in a Jewish neighborhood. From the time I was 4 years old till I was 18, I lived in a small town in the middle of northern New Jersey. All through grammar school I was the only Jewish kid in my class. And if there were any Jewish kids in the large regional high school I attended, I didn’t know them. I always had to get special permission to be absent from school on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I then had to explain to my friends why I wasn’t in class. Getting permission wasn’t a problem and the explanations finally became routine but having to go through that process did contribute to making me feel different from all the rest.

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