Braille and audio cookbooks stirring up the joys of cooking.

January 15, 2006.
Charlotte Sun-Herald - Charlotte,FL,USA.

The joy of cooking doesn't have to be lost with the loss of sight. Established in 1931, the Jewish Braille Institute (JBI) International offers a collection of books, including cookbooks printed with large type and Braille as well as Books on Tape for the blind and visually impaired.

There are JBI outreach offices that make the free service accessible to anyone, regardless of religion.

The JBI Talking Book library contains more than 10,000 audio books in English, Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Romanian and Polish. Spanish books will be added soon.

"What often happens when people experience vision loss is that they experience a separation from their community and by having access to materials that keep people plugged into the joys of their lives, it's a universal need," says Ellen Wertheim, director of outreach in the organization's New York City office. "One of the ways to remain connected to a Jewish life for people who may have been interested in cooking in the past is to be able to continue doing so," she says.

The collection includes dozens of cookbooks on tape that are specially formatted. They allow a person with vision loss to find their place on the tape, go to the index in the beginning of the book, note which recipe they want, then there are a series of beeps so they can locate the exact recipe. "This is something a standard book on tape or hard-covered text isn't going to allow," Wertheim says.

A few of the kosher cookbook titles in the audiotape collection include: "The New York Times Passover Cookbook"; "Jewish Cooking from Around the World"; "Kosher Light"; "The New Jewish Cuisine"; "Secrets of Fat-Free Kosher Cooking"; "Simply Jewish Cookery", "Spice and Spirit"; "Beginner's Kosher Cookbook ... Especially for People on Their Own for the First Time"; "Shabbat Shalom"; "Diabetes Control and the Kosher Diet" and "Mazel Tov Y'all: A Bake Book for Happy Occasions."

Having Books on Tapes "helps (combat) social isolation," says Meryl Miller, outreach coordinator for the Broward, Fla., office. "And it's a wonderful form of entertainment. It helps them feel connected to the world. There are so many losses involved when you lose your vision, at least they can hold onto their love of reading and their love of books."

For information about receiving books for the blind, call (954) 689-0207 or (800) 433-1531, or visit

Lisa Huriash, who keeps a kosher kitchen in her Broward, Fla., home, can be reached at or (954) 572-2008. Be sure to include your telephone number in any correspondence or messages.

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