November 26, 2008

A bagel is a round bread

The Jewish bagel’s probably birthplace is Poland. The first known reference to the bagel among Jews in Poland, Ms. Balinska writes, precedes the battle of Vienna by seven decades. It is found, she says, in regulations issued in Yiddish in 1610 by the Jewish Council of Krakow outlining how much Jewish households were permitted to spend in celebrating the circumcision of a baby boy – “to avoid making gentile neighbors envious, and also to make sure poorer Jews weren’t living above their means.” The origin of the word “bagel” is ultimately unclear, but many experts agree, she says, that it comes from the Yiddish beigen, to bend.

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