A Rich Brew: Coffee and Coffeehouses in Jewish Culture

A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture by Shachar M. Pinsker

Take a deep dive into the history of coffee and the coffeehouse, and their crucial role in fostering global Jewish culture. Coffee was a new commodity and a drink and that made people alert and connected them to each other. The institution of the coffeehouse, from its establishment in the early 1500s in the Arab world, has provided an important meeting place for people from all walks of life, especially from the scholarly, creative, political, and business worlds.

Coffee and coffeehouses spread rapidly to cities in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe, America, and the Middle East, and were crucial for the emergence of a modern, urban public sphere. We will explore why coffeehouses were especially attractive for migrating Jews, who became associated with café culture as owners, costumers, and habitués, and how drinks and pastries were at the center of a "third space" that encouraged sociability, acculturation, exchange of ideas, and a blossoming of literature, journalism, and art.

We'll serve a light meal as well, so you'll have brain food to power all that learning. Enjoy a delicious spread of sweet and savory treats perfect for pairing with coffee: Flaky, savory cabbage strudel; refreshing freekeh salad; and two classic coffeehouse cakes, Dobos Torta and Esterházy Torta.

Shachar Pinsker is a Professor of Judaic Studies and Middle East Studies at the University of Michigan. He held visiting professor positions at Harvard, Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion, and the Hebrew University. He is the author of A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture (NYU Press, 2018), a finalist for the 2018 Jewish Book Award, and of Literary Passports: The Making of Modernist Hebrew Fiction in Europe (Stanford University Press, 2011), the winner of the 2011 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award from the Association for Jewish Studies. He is also the editor of three volumes of literature and scholarship. His articles were published in scholarly journals, as well in Ha'aretz, The New Republic, The Jewish Week, and In Geveb.

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