Family Recipe Book


My Grandpa Jack was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1938. At the age of 14, he escaped Syria alone, in search of finding new opportunities in New York City. With the limitations that the Syrian government placed on the Jews due to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Grandpa Jack had to acquire a fake passport and identity papers. He was successful in escaping Syria, and he emigrated to New York City in 1952. Shortly after, he enrolled in the United States military and eventually opened up his own electronics store in Brooklyn, New York. He married Grandma Olga, and they raised their three children in Brooklyn, one of them being my mother, Ruthie.I chose a family recipe book that my mother compiled over the years to tell my immigration story. It consists of many traditional Syrian recipes that my grandparents cooked in Syria. It reminds me of where I came from, and shows me how important it is to preserve my customs. Even though I identify as an American today, I realize how important it is to stay connected to my roots. My mother is constantly cooking Syrian dishes from this recipe book. The book represents something much broader than just a way of eating Syrian cuisine. This book is a way of merging my daily American life with my Syrian ancestry, appreciating both aspects equally. This connection allows me to focus on the bigger picture, and appreciate how lucky I am to be living comfortably in America, thanks to my grandparents’ sacrifices. 

Place(s): Syria, New York
Year: 1952

– Olga Tawil

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant