Children’s book shows how cultures can come together through food

The book is the first part of the “In Our Tradition” series.

By Allison Joyner

Friends and authors, Candace Bazemore and Gabby Spatt grew up in two different homes: one in a black Christian home in Virginia and the other in a Jewish home in South Florida.

Cover of the book “Shabbat and Sunday Dinner: In Our Tradition” by Candace Bazemore and Gabby Spatt. (Image courtesy of Candace Bazemore and Gabby Spatt.)

The two would not have met if not for their love of volunteering with the Atlanta Junior League and the American Jewish Committee Atlanta Black/Jewish Coalition. Now they have joined forces to bring people together in their new book, “Shabbat and Sunday dinner: in our tradition.”

The book, aimed at children aged five to nine, follows a school assignment for two pupils, David and Malcolm, concerning family traditions.

“The topic they decided to talk about was family dinner traditions. The book follows the boys as they prepare their presentation and then present it to the class,” Bazemore said.

In the presentation, David shares his favorite Shabbat side dish – the traditional Jewish dinner – Challah bread, and Malcolm shares his favorite fried cornbread.

“We emphasize how the dinner table is a special place that can bring people’s ideas and cultures together,” Spatt said.

Atlanta’s Jewish and black communities have supported each other in formal ways for decades. In support of the renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 1982, Atlanta’s Black/Jewish Coalition formed with then-Councilman John Lewis serving as co-chair.

Today, the organization serves the Atlanta metro area as a platform for education, awareness, and advocacy with a mission to provide a forum for meaningful dialogue and action.

Gabby Spatt (left) and Cadance Bazemore pictured at an American Jewish Committee event in Atlanta. (Image courtesy of Candace Bazemore.)

Bazemore and Spatt said SaportaReport that the concept for the book came about while they were planning an event for the coalition Understanding of the project program. The two learned to maintain the relationship between black people and the Jewish community until the next generation.

With school systems restricting the teaching of certain types of traditions and historical events across the United States, Bazemore knew it was important to write this book for young people.

“I worry when [books] are taken out of schools and children are discouraged from learning about different cultures and communities,” Bazemore said. “I think it’s a way to do it without people feeling bad about their community.”

In addition to writing conversation prompts for future dinner parties, the writers have added food recipes for families to try after reading.

“We also include educational information on the back explaining the history of Black-Jewish relations, which should encourage children and families to learn more,” Bazemore said.

“Shabbat and Sunday Dinner: In Our Tradition” is now available on Amazon.