From Couscous to Kasha is a memoir by Dr. Seymour Epstein (Epi), who, during his eighteen years of service in the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (Joint), worked with Jewish communities all over the world. After his service as a pedagogic consultant for the Joint in Morocco and serving for three years as a regional director in Paris, he went on to work in the former Soviet Union as the Iron Curtain began to lift. He eventually ended his career at the Joint as its world director of Jewish education and a country director for the various time zones of Siberia.
This humorous and often moving account of Epi’s international adventures deals with the role of community in late Twentieth century Jewish life. It explores the disintegration of North Africa’s rich Jewish past alongside the spontaneous development of new Jewish communities in Russia. These stories contain profound lessons that, it is hoped, can be applied to Jewish community life worldwide.
About the Author
Dr. Seymour Epstein (b. January 3, 1946, Toronto, Canada) has been active in every aspect of Jewish education, formal and informal, for more than thirty-five years. He worked at United Synagogue Day School in Toronto, helping to found an experimental high school there in 1971. From 1973 to 1978 he was an assistant professor at McGill University, where he directed the Jewish Teacher Training Program of Montreal. He also directed Camp Ramah in Canada for three summers.
In 1981, Dr. Epstein moved to Morocco in order to become the educational consultant for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Casablanca. Since then, he has been involved in JDC work in Morocco, Western Europe, and the former Soviet Union. He served as the JDC’s Director of Jewish Education and was responsible for community development in Siberia, Russia. Having returned to Toronto, Dr. Epstein serves as the senior vice president of the UJA Federation Centre for Enhancement of Jewish Education.
He and his wife, Cheryl, have two children, Yoni and Sarit.