“Let the Gates be Opened Wide”: The 1947 Winnipeg Hadassah Shoppers’ Guide & Cook Book

December 4, 2020


            The 1947 Winnipeg Council “Hadassah Shoppers’ Guide and Cook Book” honours the recipes that brought Winnipeg’s Jewish community together over food even as it reflects the organization’s strong support for the Jewish homeland in what was soon to be Israel.

           The book begins with an epigraph: “Let the Gates Be Opened Wide” from a poem/play written late in World War II and, then, quickly thanks the book’s numerous advertisers “in the name of the homeless wanderers and the bereaved children whose prospect for a better life in Palestine is made brighter by reason of your subscription. You have helped.” Advertisements occupied 164 pages of 200, as was customary with such books. Characteristically, two clubs took out ads congratulating Hadassah on the role it was playing in rebuilding Eretz Israel, and on its “great humanitarian task of saving the lives of refugee children through Youth Aliyah.”

           The remaining thirty-six pages were split fairly evenly between Zionism and cooking.  Winston Churchill was quoted as stating baldly that a homeland for the Jews “would be especially in harmony with the truest interests of the British Empire.” Dr. Hugh Dalton, British Chancellor of the Exchequer, added that “It is morally wrong and politically indefensible to impose obstacles to the entry into Palestine now of any Jews who desire to go there.” T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia) thought that “the sooner the Jews farm [the land of Palestine] all the better: Their colonies are bright spots in a desert.” A poem by Hannah Senesh and a quiz deepened the focus on Palestine/Israel. Photographs offered additional support. One picture showed a Haifa vocational school, another showed a mother and her son, born in the Warsaw Ghetto, who had trekked to Palestine from Eastern Europe, and a third portrayed an orphaned Palestinian-born Jewish child who needed help.

           The fifteen-page cookbook section offered recipes for “Party Luncheons”; “Main Dishes and Entrees”; “Rolls, Buns, Quick Bread”; “Cakes”; “Tortes, Cookies”; “Canning, Pickling.”  “Party Luncheon #1” included canapes, gefilte fish with mushroom sauce, and cheese lokshen kugel. For dessert, Winnipeggers were encouraged to try “Mondel Baigalachi.” “Chanika Latkes” provided a seasonal dish. Some recipes reflected Canadian mainstream cooking with a Jewish twist. Among them were seafood cocktail with salmon or trout, and a recipe for “Spaghetti with Seafood” that included dairy but no meat. And, then, there was “Egg Fuyong.” Party planners were advised that “a good supply of [knishes] saves the hostess many hours of making fussy hors d’ouvres [sic!].  Such preparations would make it easier for a hostess “to be gracious and at ease . . . when her guests arrive.”

              In all, the 1947 Winnipeg Hadassah Shoppers’ Guide and Cook Book reflected the concerns of a Jewish community that remembered its roots and was deeply committed to Zionism even as it moved evermore into the Canadian mainstream.



Bruce Sarbit, ‘“The Goal That Was Made Cannot Be Countermanded”: The 1947 Winnipeg Hadassah Shoppers’ Guide and Cook Book,’ Manitoba History #83 (Spring 2017), pp. 31-34.