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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Bright Wolf

Honoring my Mother's Ancestors


I’ve been on a journey of honoring my Ancestors this year.


Starting w my mother’s side; her Jewish Mizrahi ancestry from the middle east, Turkey, Iraq . The Jewish people were exiled from every place they lived, always searching for home.


And in my own life, I too have felt that longing for deep belonging.


My Ancestors kept the Shabbat, & made the same meal every Friday, each household would bring their pots of this ancient Jewish dish, called Hamim/ Chamin/ T’bit (a dish w many names).. & fill the community oven to the brim w these pots, often mixing them up.


The smell would fill their village & during the second temple it was said that the Jordanian’s would constantly look over the fence bc the smell of the foods was so alluring.


felt this my whole life too, my mother would cook it on a Friday & by morning our home would be filled with the smell of hamim & we would all roll out of bed asking if it was ready to eat yet.



When you keep the Shabbat you don’t work, touch fire, electricity etc. so this dish would bake overnight & be ready for Saturday morning &

each & every house would gather around & eat the same meal.


The meal was rice, chicken & eggs baked overnight, w spices like cinnamon, cloves, turmeric. And because my family moved from Iraq to Bombay, they added garam masala, which is the only way I’ve ever eaten it & served it w golden potatoes called ‘alamakalas’ in Hindi.


It’s amazing how long & far this dish has travelled, & how they’ve adapted based on where my ancestors had to travel to.


When I make hamim for my family I think of all the Ancestors that came before me.


These were women who cooked for their family & were connected by this food.


This dish passed down to so many generations that now it’s my turn in 2022.


It brings tears to my eyes & makes me feel whole in a way I wasn’t expecting.


I connect w my Ancestors by researching as much as I can about what they went through so their stories aren’t forgotten & by making their meals & singing their songs to keep them alive.









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