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in kosher jambalaya

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A former rabbi at North Carolina Hillel, the campus Jewish organization serving UNC, tells the story about the time he was headed to lead High Holiday services in Lafayette, La. He made sure the congregation knew he observed Jewish dietary laws (forbidding pork and shellfish, among other things) and was stunned when he was picked up at the airport and taken straight to a crawfish boil. "I thought I told you I was observant," he told his Cajun Jewish host. "Sure," the host replied, "but we didn't think you meant crawfish." That kind of tension--and accommodation--among Southern Jews (who make up less than half of one percent of the region's population) is at the heart of the just-published Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South by Marcie Cohen Ferris, associate director of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies and an assistant professor at UNC-CH. She'll be talking about the subject Thursday, Oct. 20 at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh at 7 p.m. (you're supposed to have pre-registered, so call 807-7968 to make sure there's room), and there'll be a reception afterward. No word whether matzoh ball gumbo is being served.

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