Aish’s Jamie Geller makes Shavuot meals quick and easy
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Aish’s Jamie Geller makes Shavuot meals quick and easy

Jamie Geller and her six children.
Jamie Geller and her six children.

Jamie Geller made me dinner.

Well, not exactly just for me, and not exactly dinner, per se.

But after sampling the delicious foods decorating her just-assembled colorful Israeli board, and other dishes she created and shared with the crowd that came to see her, I was plenty sated. Dinner was not necessary.

Ms. Geller, once dubbed the “Queen of Kosher” and more recently anointed chief marketing and media officer for Aish Global — becoming the Jewish outreach organization’s first high-ranking woman executive when named to the newly created post a year and a half ago — recently visited New York and New Jersey for a four-day, four-event jaunt to meet in-person with Aish staffers who, up until now, only Zoomed with her due to Covid travel restrictions.

She did an event to promote her work with Aish Global at the West Side Institutional Synagogue in Manhattan where she spoke to Our Children and prepared some easy Shavuot dishes. She also made stops in New Jersey’s Englewood and Livingston, and in Five Towns in New York.

Ms. Geller, who made Aliyah from the Monsey, New York area a decade ago this summer, lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh with her husband Nachum, and their six children, ages 17 to 6.

She has been plenty busy.

She created her Kosher Network International, which includes JamieGeller.com, @JamieGeller, and @JewlishbyJamie, which has been named the No. 1 global kosher food media company and Jewish food network, with an audience of 5 million, and a total of 1 billion views.

Now, as part of Aish’s executive staff as chief marketing and media officer, Ms. Geller has taken on the task of overseeing and building Aish Global’s online media content and delivery.

“Everything I do is connected to Aish and for Jewish people,” said Ms. Geller. “The Holocaust should never happen again, but today there is a spiritual holocaust that is happening of Jewish continuity.”

For her own part, Ms. Geller experienced her journey to Jewish observance in large part through the Aish HaTorah chapter in New York City more than two decades ago.

At the time, she was a CNN producer, and encouraged at her mother’s urging to get involved Jewishly, she began to attend Monday night classes at the Upper West Side of Manhattan’s Aish HaTorah outpost, learning the weekly Torah portion with renowned teacher, Steve Eisenberg.

“Judaism didn’t permeate my life,” she said. “It punctuated my life,” she said quoting one of her Aish rebbetzins.

“That was the life I lived. The holidays were here,” she gestured, “but Judaism was not a part of my everyday life. When I started going to Aish New York for the weekly parsha class with Steve Eisenberg, and he spoke about the Torah portion and made it relevant, and how young Jewish professionals can leverage this Jewish wisdom into our own lives, this knowledge suddenly became a part of something that could be part of the way we live, inform our lives, and the decisions that we make.”

It wasn’t until she attended an Aish Discovery seminar that spoke to the proof of God bringing in science and religion that she was “completely blown away” and decided to kick up her Jewish observance and took on Shabbat and keeping kosher. But since this was in December when Shabbat comes in early and she was working on a live show that taped in the afternoons, it meant quitting her job. She did, and went to Israel where she spent a few weeks studying at a seminary until she got a call with a job offer to work at HBO on “The Sopranos.”

She came back to New York and took the position with an early Friday departure in her contract, and new commitment to live a more Jewishly observant life. She also began looking for a husband.

No matter where she traveled, she met with matchmakers, be it England where she was sent for “Angels in America” or Los Angeles for an awards show, she was determined. She finally did meet Nachum, her husband of 18 years, through a matchmaker. They were engaged after two weeks and married after two months.

“When you know, you know,” she said.

Ms. Geller wrote her first book, “Quick and Kosher Recipes from the Bride Who Knew Nothing,” when she was pregnant with her first daughter as part memoir of her own journey and as a primer for those who wanted to feed their families and didn’t want to slave in the kitchen.

“I didn’t know a spatula from a saucepan,” she said.

Now, she has just penned her eighth cookbook, “The Farmer’s Kitchen” to help support the farming families in Israel who are observing the shmitta, the mitzvah whereby each seventh year, the land is not worked, but gets its Sabbath and rests. “I had no desire to write another book, but it is for an incredible cause and benefits the Jewish people who are observing this once in every seven years mitzvah.” All its proceeds are going to help these farmers. It is available only through a donation with supportourfarmers.org, she said.

She also has created her own spice line of Israeli spices, spice mixtures and honeys that are sourced from Israeli farms and bee farms — and employs special needs individuals. Inside the spices is a touching note “the label might be somewhat misaligned or may have a few air bubbles. This is because the jars are packaged by hand, some by people with special needs. We employ humans who typically have difficulty finding work instead of using a machine, as we truly believe their needs are more important than a perfect label.”

One must talk food with Ms. Geller, so I wanted to know about her own Shabbat table.

Ms. Geller said that her traditional Ashkenazi dishes have taken on an Israeli twist.

And her helpers abound. Her kids are great taste testers and always there to give another set of hands in the kitchen. Her children include three daughters and three sons, Bracha Miriam, 17; Rochel Naami, 15; Yaakov, 14; AY, Avraham Yitzchak, 12; Noa, 10; and Shaulie Dovid, 6.

The family might start with the common Israeli starters, salatim, a variety of salads.

Of course, there is a chicken matzo ball soup, but there are other Shabbat staples that have been influenced by her Aliyah.

For example, brisket, a regular on the Shabbat menu may be dressed in a soy, silan (date honey) and baked with tons of onions. Or she might cook the brisket with dates and hawaij, a middle eastern spice blend dominant in Yemenite cooking. Salmon, another favorite as a relative starter for the meal, may be prepared with sumac, silan, and pomegranate arils for color and flavor and then topped with fresh mint. Seared lemon to give it a zing. These are just a few dishes.

It all sounds delicious. Dinner again?

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