Open Table, (Immigrants from Azerbaijan), Acco, Israel, 2007
Open Table, (Immigrants from Azerbaijan), Acco, Israel, 2007Click to Enlarge
Members of the Kavkazi community (Jews from the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia and Azerbaijan) who have immigrated to Israel have strived to retain important aspects of their rich cultural heritage. This photograph reflects one example of this—the value of hospitality that is central to their tradition. The woman in the middle (with her head covered) represents another cultural attribute among the Kavkazi Jews—the reverence and respect that is paid to matriarchs and patriarchs in the community. The photograph, however, also reflects a certain tension among the Kavkazis—the tension between tradition and modernity, as expressed in the different clothing styles of the younger and older women.
When the great calamity befell Job, he pleaded with the Holy One, “Master of the Universe, did I not feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and clothe the naked?”
The Holy One answered Job, “Job, you have not yet reached half the measure [of hospitality] extended by Abraham. You sat in your house waiting for guests to come to you. To him who was accustomed to eat wheat bread, you gave wheat bread; to him who was accustomed to drink wine, you gave wine. But Abraham did not act thus. He went out, getting about in the world. When he met prospective guests, he brought them to his home. Even to him who was not accustomed to eat wheat bread, he gave wheat bread; to him who was not accustomed to eat meat, he gave meat; and to him who was not accustomed to drink wine, he gave wine.”
-Avot of Rabbi Natan 7
When Rav Huna had a meal, he would open the doors of his house and say, “Let whoever is in need come and eat.”
– Babylonian Talmud, Taanit 20b 21a