Purim and Hamantaschen

Submitted By David Polen

DP and SP Purim Pic _2014.jpg

Purim has always been a special Jewish Holiday that can smultaneously be serious and somber as well as festive and joyous - and somehow it all works.   While it’s often referred to as the Jewish Halloween that moniker doesn’t capture the intensity of its story and meaning.   It is different from the other Jewish holidays where going to temple meant dressing up in a suit and tie and sitting quietly through the service.  No, Purim is different.  Dressing up on Purim meant dressing up as Mordechai, Esther, or even King Ahasuerus to hear the Purim Spiel. One of our more enjoyable aspects of Purim is making noise and shaking the gregor to drown out Haman’s name during the Megillah reading. Like all great Jewish holidays, someone, in this case, Haman, tries to destroy us and goes to great lengths to achieve his objective.  Like all great Jewish holidays, we survive and in the story of Purim we got to defend ourselves and destroy our enemy.  The richness of the story and the plots, sub-plots and twist made it so compelling that as I write this it’s hard to believe it hasn’t been made into a big screen picture. 

Hamantashen

Hamantashen

Celebrating Purim is never complete until you eat Hamantashen, which are the three-pointed delicious dessert filled with jam. This is one of the recipes we've found online and used to make our own:

  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • About 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Assorted jams or fruit butters, or quick homemade filling (see note)

To make the dough:

1. Beat the butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

2. Beat in the egg.

3. Blend in the juice, vanilla and salt.

4. Stir in enough of the flour to make a soft dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

 

To fill and make the hamantaschen:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Remove the dough from the fridge. If it feels too hard to roll out, let it stand at room temperature until malleable, but not too soft.

3. Flour a clean work surface. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. 

4. Cut rounds of dough with the edge of a drinking glass or circle cookie cutter, dipped in flour. Repeat rolling and rounding with remaining scraps of dough.

5. Place a dollop of jam on each round. Pick up the sides and pinch them together to form a triangle, leaving the jelly center exposed.

6. Line a few baking trays with parchment paper.

7. Place the hamantaschen about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes.

TIPS

To make a quick homemade filling, mix eight ounces of date spread with 1/2 cup of coarsely chopped nuts and zest of one lemon.

The Strong Will of a Jewish Immigrant Woman

Submitted by Olivia Brown

Clara Kligerman Baker. Image courtesy of Larraine Lourie Moses

Clara Kligerman Baker. Image courtesy of Larraine Lourie Moses

How Clara Baker Served the Ward One Community Through Her Grocery Store

In 1912, Clara Kligerman and her younger sister, Esther, boarded a ship to New York City; the girls—who were seventeen and twelve years old, respectively—set sail for America, leaving behind their parents and nine other siblings in Nikolaev, Ukraine. While living with an aunt and uncle in New York, Clara met Frank Baker after a benefit show in the city. He lived with his father and brother in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, where he convinced Clara and Esther to visit (1). By 1917, the young couple had married and moved to Estill, South Carolina. It was after the Bakers relocated to Columbia that they opened an all-purpose grocery store at 931 Gates Street in 1926, right in the heart of the city’s African American community, a neighborhood known as Ward One (2).

Baker's Grocery, painted by Kathryn Baker Lotzoff. Image courtesy of Larraine Lourie Moses

Baker's Grocery, painted by Kathryn Baker Lotzoff. Image courtesy of Larraine Lourie Moses

As Jews in the South, the Bakers, like others in their community, had to decide to what extent they would embrace their Jewish culture and customs. Clara’s engagement with her Jewish heritage did not always align with her role as a business owner and operator in Columbia. The Bakers did not settle close to the synagogue or in a neighborhood with other Jewish immigrants. In fact, Clara and Frank Baker were one of very few non-black families on their block. By 1967, when Clara Baker sold the store to Oscar Shealy, a long-time employee, Baker’s Grocery had become a respected and valued part of its surrounding community. 

Though Baker’s Grocery is listed under Frank Baker’s ownership, Clara truly ran the business on a daily basis. Her steadfast dedication to the store is remembered most by family and friends. John Bell, a long-time customer at Baker’s and close family friend, described Clara Baker as “one of the hardest working women you’ve ever seen in your life,” working 12 to 15 hour days at the grocery.(3) She opened the store early and closed it late so as to better serve the needs of her customers. 

It was the relationships Clara built with her clientele that made her a well-known figure in Ward One. Though she was a white, Jewish woman serving an almost exclusively African American customer base, she was neither marginalized nor taken advantage of. Through 41 years of reliable service, relationship building, and the generous lending of credit to those in need, she became a protected and respected member of her community.  

A quick look around Baker’s Grocery and a customer might see a section of fresh produce with onions, collards, and turnip greens; milk and butter, along with eggs bought from an elderly woman in the neighborhood; dry goods, like tobacco, medicine, and assorted clothing items; and, a meat counter—the most important factor in discerning who may or may not purchasing from Baker’s—which advertised a slew of non-kosher meats, including ham hocks, pig ears, and pickled pigs’ feet. Though Clara Baker’s grocery was not selling kashrut (kosher) food or ingredients commonly used in Jewish dishes, the Baker family was still very familiar with old world food traditions, often making borscht, strudel, and homemade dill pickles at home for her family. (4)

Clara Baker at the home of her daughter, Toby Baker Lourie, in the 1960s. Image courtesy of Larraine Lourie Moses

Clara Baker at the home of her daughter, Toby Baker Lourie, in the 1960s. Image courtesy of Larraine Lourie Moses

The hard-working attitude of Clara Baker shows the commitment many Jewish immigrants had to the businesses they established and the opportunities they had been given upon arrival in the United States. Though Clara did not push her family to eat and serve kosher food, she was still cooking traditional dishes from her eastern European background and expressing her Jewish cultural heritage at home, while asserting her entrepreneurial dedication at the store.

Notes:

1. Hyman Baker (or Chaim Becker), Frank Baker’s father, came to America from Zabludow, Poland, which was roughly 17 miles from Bialystock, in 1883. The family settled in New York originally, but in 1887 moved to Charleston where they had relatives and knew others from Bialystock, including the Firetag, Krawcheck, Sharnoff, and Pearlstine families. This information came from family Kligman/Baker family members Lyssa Kligman Harvey and Susan Brill. 

2.Laurie Baker Walden, “A March Through Time: Baker and Kligman Family Roots,” September 1999. This source is a collection of family memories compiled over a number of years, though the timeframe is unknown. It is believed that these memories were collected as an informal family oral history, but after putting them together Walden sent the document to Historic Columbia’s Jewish Heritage Initiative for use in their research. 

3. Walden, “A March Through Time: Baker and Kligman Family Roots.” 

4. Ellen Henderson, “Clara Kligerman Baker: Personal Remembrances of Her Life,” December 21, 1974. 

Olivia Brown is a Master’s student in Public History at the University of South Carolina. 

Instagram: @_oliviabrown, Twitter: @_ombrown

Hanukkah Memories

Submitted by Emily Levinson

Mom's latkes

Mom's latkes

I’ve never had a Christmas tree. This is something that my non-Jewish friends often find very odd. Quite possibly something even stranger is when I tell my Jewish friends about our Hanukkah bush, stockings, and when Santa would occasionally make a stop at our dark, un-festive house – much to my confusion growing up. 

So no, I never had a Christmas tree, but my father’s family would get together and decorate a bush with silver and blue ornaments (side note – where did we even get a bush?).  My grandmother, Faye Levinson, knitted us blue and white Hanukkah stockings, which I still hang up. When I was little, I was sad our dogs didn’t have stockings, so I drew Stars of David on my tiny running socks and hung one for Moxie and one for Sunshine next to ours. My parents would fill them with small gifts, which we could open on the first night of Hanukkah along with our “big” present, (our tradition was to choose one “big” gift.)  Through the years, I was the proud recipient of a portable DVD player (a road trip necessity in the early 2000s); a video camera (that I NEVER thought my parents were going to get me and freaked out over – I never used it); a keyboard (that I never learned to play correctly, and “mysteriously” disappeared one day); and an aquarium which I shared with my brother (my aunt and uncle gave it to us – my parents were not pleased). 

Hanukkah at the Levinson's

Hanukkah at the Levinson's

Although I never had a tree, I was always invited to a friend’s house for Christmas tree festivities. When I was very young, we would visit our neighbor’s house for latkes (although the neighbor wasn’t Jewish, she was raised in a Jewish neighborhood in NJ and made great latkes) and Christmas tree decorating. As I grew up, I was invited on trips to a local tree farm, Harmon Farms, for cider and tree cutting.  In return, we always invited our friends over for a night of Hanukkah. My mom, Rachel Barnett, would cook latkes and make brisket, we’d light the candles, and play dreidel. Our friends begged to come over for Hanukkah each year. I suppose it was the only time they were ever graced with the deliciousness of fried potato pancakes. I don’t mean to speak ill of any of my grandmothers or restaurants or people who have made me latkes in my life, but my mom still makes the best. I know she hates it – spending hours grating potatoes and making the entire house smell like the back of a McDonalds, but I haven’t found any that are better (recipe below).  

The author revels in her Hanukkah gift during a Hanukkah party. (Emily Levinson and her brother, Chase - 1990's)

The author revels in her Hanukkah gift during a Hanukkah party. (Emily Levinson and her brother, Chase - 1990's)

I have many great memories celebrating Hanukkah with my family growing up, but there is always one tradition that stands out from the others. I grew up in Columbia, South Carolina and attended a public school where we were usually only one of very few Jewish families. Even though Satchel Ford Elementary was decked out in Christmas décor, each year they invited my family to decorate a Hanukkah window display in the front lobby. We would spend a Saturday at school taking much pride in our Hanukkah themed window. My mom would then spend a day at school and read a Hanukkah book and hand out dreidels and gelt (chocolate gold foiled coins) to everyone in my class – which definitely contributed to my popularity (because who doesn’t like chocolate and gambling). 

Barnett_Chanukah_Stocking.jpeg

It’s a little bittersweet reflecting on my Hanukkah memories because sadly, we don’t do many of them anymore. As the baby of the family at 24 years old, our family has grown up and can’t find the eight nights to get together anymore. One thing that stays the same each year is that I still have never had a Christmas tree. I think this year, my non-Jewish roommate will be providing the tree, and I guess it’s my turn to learn how to make latkes. 

Emily Levinson (on right) with friends - Aly (on left), Bella and Abby (the furry ones) - celebrate a "golden" Chanukah!

Emily Levinson (on right) with friends - Aly (on left), Bella and Abby (the furry ones) - celebrate a "golden" Chanukah!

Mom’s Latkes

  • 5 lbs. Russet potatoes 
  • 1 medium sweet onion 
  • 2 eggs - beaten 
  • ½ cup flour  
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • vegetable oil 

Peel and place potatoes in pot of cold water. Using a box grater, grate all of the potatoes. Peel and grate onion. Drain thoroughly in colander.  Place grated potatoes and onion in bowl, add beaten eggs, salt, pepper and sprinkle flour. Mix well. (The flour should be just enough to bind.) 

Heat oil in large frying pan. Once hot, place tablespoons of potato mixture into pan (careful not to splatter). Should be the size of medium size pancakes. 

Flip once when crispy on edges. (May take a couple of flips before ready to remove.)  

Drain on paper towels.   

Serve warm with sour cream and applesauce. 

Jewish Food Festival: Bubbie's Brisket and Family Recipes!

Submitted by Terri Hodges

Florence Hirschman Levy, Terri’s bubbie (Jewish grandmother)

Florence Hirschman Levy, Terri’s bubbie (Jewish grandmother)

OK, so I don’t know where to begin. As it so happens, I come from a long line of culinarians; from both the Pearlstine and Levy sides of the family. My roots come from northern and southern cuisine, although both grandmothers grew up in New York (Manhattan and Brooklyn).

I can remember my childhood spending many Jewish Holidays with my grandmother, Florence Hirshman Levy, watching her cook, bake and prepare so many delicious Jewish dishes. Although she would shoo the kindala out of the kitchen, I was always very curious about her cooking skills. Not only was her cooking delectable, her hospitality was grand. Rosh Hashanah was truly the New Year celebrated with lots of family, friends, and soldiers from Fort Jackson, and Passover was no less a feast.

Terri Hodges, chair of Bubbie’s Brisket and Bakery

Terri Hodges, chair of Bubbie’s Brisket and Bakery

Rugelach

The history of rugelach, the sweetest traditional Jewish pastry, is a fascinating one.  Rugelach is rolled up dough with different fillings. It’s the history of rugelach that adds so many layers of flavor—starting with the name. The name, rugelach, is a mashed up Yiddish word that translates to anything twisted. Rog is Polish for ‘horn,’ the shape of the pastry that was created circa 1683, about the same time as the croissant. So, biting into a rugelach is biting into hundreds of years of delicious history and heritage.

Rugelach

Rugelach

Dough

  • 2 cups flour

  • ¼ tsp. salt

  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream (cold, cubed)

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter (unsalted, cold, cubed)

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • 1 egg yolk1 batch filling of choice (see mine below)

  • n/a powdered sugar

Roll out the dough: Roll one disk of dough from the center out into a circle about 1/8-inch thick. (Don’t worry if a few cracks form near the edges.) 

Spread the filling in a thin layer evenly over the surface of the dough.  Make sure it goes right up to the edge of the dough.

Filling

  • ½ cup raisins

  • 1 cup nuts

  • 4 tsp. cinnamon

  • ½ cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. sugar

Slice the dough into 16 wedges, like a pizza, using a pizza cutter or sharp knife.  Roll up each wedge, beginning at the wide outer edge and moving inward. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. 

Refrigerate pastries on the baking sheet for 20 minutes. (Meanwhile, prepare remaining batches.)

Bake the pastries until golden-brown, 20-25 minutes. Cool on the sheet for 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack.

Vegetarian Chopped Liver

“What am I, CHOPPED LIVER?!” Chopped liver is a traditional Jewish dish that brings back fond memories for many Jewish families.  The history of chopped liver goes back to Medieval Germany, where Jews bred and raised geese as the poultry of choice. The first Jewish chopped liver recipes were actually made from goose liver.  Eventually, eastern European Jews began using chicken and beef liver and these recopies came across the ocean with immigrants through Ellis Island.

With many vegetarians today, there is a ‘mock’ chopped liver made with eggs, walnuts, peas and onions.

  • 3 egg whites

  • ½ cup walnuts (chopped in food processor)

  • 1 can English peas (drained)

  • 2 medium onions (sautéed in oil)

Chop nuts first, then add other ingredients and process until texture of chopped liver.  So easy.

Bubbie's Brisket and Bakery

In 2009, Bubbie's Brisket and Jewish Food Extravaganza began at Beth Shalom Synagogue.  From the beginning, I have taken this fundraiser under wing and now serve as its chair.  Recipes used to prepare the delicious offerings have been handed down from many generations.

Bubbies-Brisket-Logo.jpg

Bubbie's Brisket and Jewish Food Extravaganza, held this year on November 12th at Beth Shalom Synagogue from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., will offer many Kosher Jewish foods that have been handed down through many generations.  I hope you will be there. Find out more HERE.

To close, may I quote Alton Brown (especially regarding Rugelach): “Your patience will be rewarded.”

MEMORIES OF THE FAIR, FLORIDA AND FLANKEN SOUP

Submitted by Jackie Dickman

Florida Boyd

Florida Boyd

These are my childhood memories of the State Fair in the early 60’s. That was when the fairgrounds were covered in saw dust, there were girlie and freak shows, live mice in the lucky numbers game, and fairgoers often were loud and rowdy after sundown. That did not keep me with my sisters and friends from having free rein at the fair—meeting at the rocket if we got separated. 

The B’nai B’rith Women’s fair booth with homemade Jewish food was a major operation and a real Jewish community affair. This was their big fund-raiser for the year. It was a favorite among fairgoers who enjoyed sitting down to a good corned beef or pastrami sandwich or a Kosher hot dog. For the carnival workers who travelled with the fair, the B’nai B’rith Women’s booth was a place to get a good hot home cooked meal on a cold fair night. I remember the experience of watching these men who led hard lives. It was not what I was used to seeing.

Since my dad Max Dickman was a great cook, who happened to own a scrap metals business next to the fair, and my mother Selma Dickman was very active in B’nai B’rith Women, serving as President and chair of the BBW booth for several years, fair week was a very busy time in our family. But it was Florida who was the outstanding member of the fair booth preparation task force. Florida Boyd was my family’s long time house keeper, cook, extra mama, friend and family member. If you grew up Jewish in Columbia in our day, you knew Florida. She prepared amazing Jewish and Southern dishes. Florida “catered” many Passover and Break the Fast meals at the Tree of Life Temple and was the “go to” for brit milah celebrations. That is a story for another day. 

Florida was a mainstay at the fair.   One of the dishes especially enjoyed by the traveling carnival workers was Florida’s flanken (beef short ribs) and barley soup. It was thick and hot and delicious. I do not have her recipe. In fact, Florida would not have had a recipe. We do have the pots!

Soup pot used by the Dickman family at the fair in 1960s.

Soup pot used by the Dickman family at the fair in 1960s.

Although I do not have her recipe, I know this hearty soup was made with cellophane tubes of Manischewitz soup mix to start, with added carrots, celery, onions, maybe potatoes and powdered garlic, and of course short ribs.  So I have scoured the internet and combined several entries to come up with an approximation of Florida’s delicious flanken soup. And now I am motivated to prepare this soup for a cold winter night and think of the fair, my parents and Florida.  Dad and Florida also made pots of whole cow tongues for the fair, but I’ll try not to think about that.

FLANKEN and BARLEY SOUP (8 servings)

  • In a large pot, cover 8 pieces (about 3 lbs.) of flanken (beef short ribs with bone in) with water; bring to boil for 2 minutes; then change water to the full amount (4 quarts).
  • Bring water with flanken to a boil then simmer covered for 1 hour.
  • Add Manischewitz soup mixes (not the enclosed season packets)-one tube lima beans & barley and one tube split pea & barley. 
  • Add chopped carrots, celery and onions, potatoes (at least 1 cup each).
  • Simmer covered another hour.
  • Mix in contents of seasoning packets, a few bay leaves, and garlic powder, salt or pepper if needed—simmer covered for 15 minutes.
  • As cooking, stir occasionally and thoroughly, and add water if needed. And may need more or less cooking time.
  • These are typical Florida instructions. If you want a more specific recipe, consult the internet or a traditional Jewish Cookbook. 

PS. The end of the B’nai B’rith Women’s fair booth was due in part to an improved life style of carnival employees, and in large part due to stricter regulation of off-premises preparation of foods served at fairs and festivals. 

A Taste of Home

Submitted by Jerry Emanuel

B’nai B’rith Women & the South Carolina State Fair

State Fair, midway, October 17, 1955

State Fair, midway, October 17, 1955

All images of the South Carolina State Fair are provided courtesy of the Walker Local and Family History Center at Richland Library for educational use and remain under the copyright of The State Media Company. To see additional images of the fair, click here.  

The Agricultural Society of South Carolina was organized in November 1839 in Columbia.  It was also the beginning of the S. C. State Fair. 

The state legislature allocated $5,000 in 1855 to the fair and erected buildings on Elmwood Street, the first site of the fair. 

At the start of the Civil War the Confederates occupied the buildings, using them as a place to make war material.  The buildings were burned by William T. Sherman in 1865. 

Four years later, with the Agricultural Society resurrected, the legislature appropriated $2,500 annually to assist the Society and the City of Columbia rebuilt the buildings.  Private donations helped create a statewide fair. 

The fair outgrew the Elmwood site and, in 1904 the Society moved to the current location on Rosewood Drive.  Needing still more exhibit space, the Society bought the Hippodrome Building, site of the 1908 Republican National Convention, and moved the building to Columbia from Norfolk, Virginia.  That building was destroyed by fire in 1966 and was replaced by the Hampton and Ruff Buildings. 

“Meet your party at the rocket,” is a familiar cry heard throughout the fairgrounds on the public address system.  If one is lost or looking for someone, meeting at the rocket, which towers above the buildings, is a logical meeting place.  The rocket, a Jupiter intermediate range ballistic missile, was a gift to the city from the U.S. Air Force because it was named “Columbia.”  It was designed by Dr. Wernher Von Braun and built by the Chrysler Corporation.  The SC State Fair acquired it in 1969.  

State Fair, midway, October 17, 1955

State Fair, midway, October 17, 1955

In the late 1950s or early 1960s the fair not only included food booths on the midway but other booths sponsored by eleemosynary organizations.  One of those booths was sponsored by the local chapter of B’nai B’rith Women.  Located near the bandstand, it catered to the carnival workers who traveled with the entertainment and food trucks to carnivals and fairs across the country.  “They came to our booth because we served corned beef and brisket, salami and eggs,” said Heidi Golden.  “It was good old New York Delicatessen style.” 

“Many of the [carnival workers] were Jewish,” said Helen Coplan, “and they just worshipped the food...we didn’t have a kosher restaurant in Columbia so there was no place to get decent Jewish food except at the fair,” she said. 

Volunteers from B’nai B’rith Women, B’nai B’rith and BBYO, the youth organization, worked the booth in some capacity.  “I worked there a couple of times with BBG, B’nai B’rith Girls,” said Ilsa Kahn Young, “We were either on the serving line or cleaning up.” 

The fair lasted ten days, and members of the Jewish community would cook and bake, sometimes weeks prior to the event.  “Matzo Ball soup and Lentil soup were big hits,” said Golden. “I usually made several pots of chopped liver.” 

“I enjoyed listening to [the carnival workers],” said Fred Fields.  “They usually had some interesting stories to tell.” 

Florence Berry was one of the leaders who planned and supervised the event.  The primary cook was Florida Boyd, Selma Dickman‘s maid.  Dickman had taught Florida how to cook Jewish.  Florida was in the kitchen every day, and she would even make things “on the spot” like omelets and sandwiches.  The cooks prepared the gamut of traditional Jewish cuisine. 

The booth would sometimes become crowded because too many volunteered that day so they would take turns walking around the fairgrounds.  “It was a pleasure to work with B’nai B’rith Women and to meet all the interesting people who stopped by,” said Delores (Dee) Friedman.  There were times when working in the booth was a challenge.  “When it rained on a Big Thursday, the day of the USC vs. Clemson football game, water came into the booth, sometimes horizontally, and everyone got soaked,” said Helen Silver. 

“The booth was divided into the kitchen and the bar area where the prepared food was laid out,” said Judi Emanuel.  “We’d be in the area where the big ice chests were located handing out drinks.  We’d freeze our hands off,” she said. 

Helen Silver remembers one particular incident that, thankfully, had a happy ending: 

“I remember one fellow who was ‘in charge’ of the booth that day.  He saw the portions we were giving and said, ‘from now on when we sell soup and knaidel (matzo balls), we only give one and a little bread to go with it.’  I did that with one of the [carnival workers] and he looked at the food and said, ‘oh, you’re charging more and giving less?’  I looked at him and said, ‘you know, you’re right.’  Then I went to Florida and asked her to give me a hot bowl of soup, two knaidlach and plenty of bread, which she did.  I took it to the worker who remarked, ‘that’s more like it!” 

“When I was president of B’nai B’rith Women around 1977 or 1978,” Emanuel said, “they changed the menu to include more than Jewish food mainly because preparing our normal menu was getting very expensive.” 

Then in the early 1980s, the SC State Fair changed the rules and increased the rent on the booths, which made it much harder to continue.  “They imposed new rules because some were not following sanitary procedures,” said Golden.  “Then we couldn’t get the same booth the last few years so people couldn’t find us and that put the kibosh on it,” she said. 

“As with a lot of things,” Silver said, “people started losing interest, women began working and with housework, children and other responsibilities, you can only spread yourself so thin.” 

State Fair at night, midway, October 17, 1955

State Fair at night, midway, October 17, 1955

Over the years many people have worked the booth: Mary Miller, Ethel Miller, Heidi and David Lovit, Helen Kahn, Bobby and Barbara Kahn, Louis and Frances Berry, Max and Selma Dickman, Sandi and Bob Schulman, Benay Chandler, Sandy and Eddie Hertz, Frank and Barbara Bruck, Merrie and Ira Zolin, Sarah Kline and Ruby Harris among a host of other volunteers.  It was a time of comradery, community involvement and dedication. 

Helen Silver summed it up, “I enjoyed every minute of it,” she said. 

Rosh Hashanah 5778

Submitted by Lyssa Kligman Harvey

Traditional Jewish Recipes for a Sweet & Happy New Year

For as long as I can remember, celebrating the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah has been a joyous occasion. It celebrates the birth of the world! It brings family and friends together to eat traditional foods passed down by our grandmothers; as well as new recipes created by new generations of Southern Jewish cooks.  

Image courtesy of Lyssa Kligman Harvey

Image courtesy of Lyssa Kligman Harvey

The first day of Rosh Hashanah this year is Thursday, September 21st in the Hebrew Year 5778. My husband, Jonathan, and I host about 40 guests in our home in the Forest Acres neighborhood in Columbia, SC, at a seated luncheon after synagogue services. The traditional menu has been planned and assigned, my mother’s linens, china and crystal have been taken out, and the special table extensions are in place. The table décor will be fall flowers and ancient symbols of the Jewish New Year. Pomegranates are often used for table decorations as well as to eat, because it is referenced in the Old Testament, and it is a symbol of fertility. There are 613 seeds in a pomegranate, which is referred to the number of good deeds that are commanded by God. The menu is a combination of traditional Eastern European recipes handed down from grandmothers, aunts and family friends, several of which are featured below, along with newly created recipes from the four corners of the diaspora. For example, I have included hummus in our meal, which originates from the Middle East and is served as an appetizer. My special recipes are Chopped Liver and my mother’s Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage. You will notice that the contemporary recipes use short cuts and ingredients that our ancestors didn’t use, such as the Savory Brisket made by Sandra Poliakoff.  Rosh Hashanah is a festive and happy holiday that brings together our family and friends to initiate another year of a sweet and good life. Rosh Hashanah is my favorite holiday of the year that savors the traditions and happy memories of my family. 

My parents, Helene & Melton Kligman, hosted many guests for the Jewish New Year in their beautiful home at 1618 Graeme Drive in Forest Acres neighborhood beginning around 1965.  When I was growing up we celebrated two days of Rosh Hashanah, and had different sets of guests each day. The dining room table had special extensions that were created for these large family holiday meals at Rosh Hashanah & Passover. With the extensions in place, the table reached into the sunroom and into the living room so that every adult had a seat at the table. Of course, there was a children’s table. There were plenty of children, including the five Kligman children, and cousins. The table was always set with exquisite linens, special Yantaff (a yiddish word for holiday) china and crystal, and place cards. My mother was a Bulaboosta (yiddish word for kitchen maven) and seemed to pull hosting this big holiday meal off effortlessly. I now understand, she planned and organized everything to a T. She was a wonderful cook but did have special help in the kitchen for that day. Some of the guests contributed their specialty dish, but it was my mother that really set the tone for the year by hosting an elaborate and memorable meal.  Prayers and holiday blessings were said over the children, candles, wine, a special round challah, and apples and honey.  My father always made a toast and welcomed all the guests.  I still remember his happy smile having everyone in his home. 

The foods were delicious heavy European recipes: Chopped Liver, Kugel, Brisket, Sweet and Sour Cabbage, Kasha VarnishkesYantaff (Holiday) Chicken and Rice and for dessert Honey cake. Everyone left very full and happy. Click the links above for Rosh Hashanah recipes and memories provided by Pat Lovit, Mindy Kligman Odle, Shirley Levine, myself and my mother, Helene Firetag Kligman. 

After 40 years of hosting, my mother blew the whistle and changed the game…it was our turn as adults to take on the responsibility of hosting the Jewish Holidays. Being one of five children, my sisters and I took on the role of sharing the holidays. I knew I wanted to host Rosh Hashanah, but honestly, I was overwhelmed at the thought of hosting this important holiday meal and pulling it off as smoothly as my mother did all those years. I now realize how much our present Rosh Hashanah luncheons have replicated the ones I experienced growing up. Of course, my mother was the perfect role model and created the feeling of warmth and love that comes from sharing a special meal together. Today we open our home to family and close friends, as well as newcomers to the Jewish community, students from USC and military at Fort Jackson. My hope is that this tradition will continue to transcend and the recipes new and old will be passed to the next generations. La Shana Tovah! (Hebrew New Year’s Greeting “To a Good Year!”) 

Savory Brisket

Yantaff (Holiday) Chicken & Rice

Chopped Liver

Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage

Kasha Varnishkes

Tsimmes

Honey Cake

Dedicated to the blessed memory of Helene Firetag Kligman, who passed away only a day before Erev Rosh Hashanah. -Rachel Barnett, co-creator of Kugels & Collards

Savory Brisket

Submitted by Sandra Altman Poliakoff

Brisket.jpg

My mother, Annette Altman, always made her brisket this way, and my mother-in-law Rosa Poliakoff made hers with carrots, celery, and onions and beef broth. Brisket is a no-brainer. The longer it cooks (on a low oven), the more tender it gets, as long as there is liquid for the meat to absorb. Just the smell of brisket cooking in the oven evokes memories of family, holidays and warmth. It is one of the threads that binds one generation to the next.

  • 1 beef brisket, 3-4 lbs, fat trimmed

  • 1 1/2 cups Ketchup

  • 1 package of onion soup mix

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup of red wine

Mix ketchup, onion soup mix, brown sugar and red wine. 

Put brisket in a pyrex dish lined with foil. Pour sauce over meat, cover with foil.

Bake on 350 for 4 hours.

Meat is done when fork inserted in meat sinks in easily.

When the meat is done, put on cutting board and slice against the grain. Serve with sauce in the pan.

Sandra and her mother, Annette Altman.

Sandra and her mother, Annette Altman.

Yantaff (Holiday) Chicken and Rice

Submitted by Lyssa Kligman Harvey

My grandmother, Ida Lomansky Kligman, used to cook a chicken for Shabbat dinner in a particular pot every Friday. I have given this chicken pot to my daughter, Jordane Harvey Lotts, since she is such a good cook. Grandma Ida’s chicken would be the same delicious roasted chicken with rice. The chicken would be “fall off the bone” tender or the Yiddish term fatempt. This holiday yantaff chicken and rice recipe is not my grandmother’s. It is combination of many delicious chicken recipes that I have put together. I wanted a crispy but tender sweet chicken. Using the dried fruit and lemon gives it a special flavor for any holiday. I usually make this recipe for Passover as well.

  • 2 cut-up chickens (do not use the backs, if the breasts are large cut in half)

  • 2 cups of instant brown rice or wild rice

  • 4 cups of chicken broth

  • 1 onion, chopped up

  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed

  • 1 jar of apricot preserves

  • ½ cup of dried apricots

  • ½ cup of dried pitted prunes

  • ½ cup of lemon slices

  • Fresh oregano

  • Olive oil

  • Kosher salt

  • Pepper

Salt and pepper the chicken. Brown the chicken in olive oil in a Dutch oven or large sauce pan and set aside. Brown the onions and garlic in the chicken juice and olive oil that is left in the pan. Oil the bottom of a large baking pan or Pyrex dish or aluminum pan and put the 2 cups of wild rice or brown rice in the pan. Place the chicken on top of the rice. Pour in the 4 cups of chicken broth. Put the onions and garlic and oregano on top of the chicken. Spread the apricot preserves on top of chicken. Sprinkle the apricots, prunes and lemon slices on top of chicken.

Bake the chicken covered for 1 ½ hours at 350 degrees.

Serve with the apricots and prunes and lemon slices on top of the chicken.

Tsimmes

Submitted by Mindy Kligman Odle

Tsimmes..jpg
  • 1 bag of carrots, chopped into large pieces

  • 3 sweet potatoes peeled and chopped into large pieces

  • ½ box of pitted prunes

  • 1 can of cut up pineapple

  • ¼ cup of brown sugar

  • 1 onion cut up

  • A small piece of chuck roast or brisket cut into large pieces

In a Dutch oven or a stew pot; brown the cut up onions and add the cut up meat and cover with water. Cook the meat slowly until it softens and the water is absorbed.

Par boil the carrots, the sweet potatoes, drain and add to the meat.

Add the prunes, brown sugar and the can of cut up pineapple.

Put this mixture in a buttered Pyrex dish.

The traditional way is to mash the vegetables or the more recent way is to leave it in large pieces tossed together and cooked.

Bake for 30-40 minutes at 350.

Chopped Liver

Submitted by Lyssa Kligman Harvey

Chopped Liver.JPG

It’s hard to believe that I now am the designated preparer of Chopped Liver in my family. Then again…no one else really wants to make it. It is a difficult and time consuming recipe. Cooking the liver and hard boiled eggs will certainly give the house a distinct aroma, so I always make sure and prepare it at least 24 hours before serving it. Chopped Liver is akin to liver pate that is usually served as an appetizer or as a side dish…hence the popular saying, “What am I…chopped liver.” It isn’t the centerpiece in a meal, even though it is a heavy meat dish high in protein and cholesterol. Chopped Liver is a dish of Eastern European / Ashkenazi origin that was commonly served in delicatessens. The first time I tasted chopped liver was in a sandwich with my parents in a New York delicatessen called the Carnegie Deli. It was huge. My father, Melton Kligman, happened to love liver. As a child, we would go out to eat at Morrison’s Cafeteria on Thursday nights just so he could order Liver and Onions. On Rosh Hashanah my mother, Helene Firetag Kligman, would make chopped liver and Dad would always make sure that there would be leftovers, so he could make a challah and chopped liver sandwich.

  • 1 lb. chicken liver

  • 1 large sweet onion

  • ¼ cup of sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • Gribenes frozen chicken fat (shmaltz)

  • Mayonnaise

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Boil eggs until hard boiled. Peel shells and set aside to cool.

Wash off liver and set aside.

Chop up frozen chicken fat (schmaltz).

Chop up onion into small pieces

In a large deep skillet, brown chicken fat (schmaltz) until very crispy, put on a paper towel to drain. The fried chicken fat (schmaltz) is now called Gribenes.

Brown the chopped onions using the remaining fat in the skillet.

Add the liver and ¼ cup of sugar and stir until the liver begins to turn brown.

Drain off the liquid from time to time and cook on medium heat until all liver is brown.

Let the liver cool.

Put the liver and eggs in a large bowl and hand chop until chunky or smooth, depending on taste.

Add mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve on a platter with crackers, raw celery and carrots.

After it is made, it will last in the fridge for 3 or 4 days. I like to make it a couple of days before as the flavor seems better.

Honey Cake

Submitted by Shirley Levine

Honey cake.jpg
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup Wesson oil
  • 2 ½ cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ cup maraschino cherry juice
  • ¼ cup black coffee
  • 1 cup raisins (optional) 
  • ½ cup sliced/ slivered/ almonds (optional) 

In a medium bowl, beat together the honey, sugar, eggs and oil. In another bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, allspice, and cinnamon and set aside. In a small pot, heat the cherry juice and the coffee and add the baking soda and the vanilla. Combine this mixture with the honey, sugar, egg and oil. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Add raisins (optional). Pour the batter into two greased and floured (4x8) loaf pans or one tube pan. Top with almonds, if desired. Bake 1 hour at 300 degrees. Test for doneness. Cake should spring back when gently pressed in the center. Allow the cake to sit for 5 minutes and remove from the pan to a wire rack to cool. 

Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage

Submitted by Helene Firetag Kligman 

Cabbage_roll.jpg
  • 1 large head of cabbage

  • 1 lb. of ground round or chuck  

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ cup of instant rice

  • 1 6-8 oz. jar of grape jelly

  • 1-2 jars of chili sauce

  • A handful of Golden raisins

  • Salt and pepper

  • Large Dutch oven or Stew Pot with a Top 

 

Prepare the Cabbage

Take the head of the cabbage and cut out the stem and put in a pot and cover the cabbage with water. Bring the water to boil turn off and let cabbage sit for 10-15 minutes. Drain the cabbage and peel off the cabbage leaves. They should be soft, wilted and easy to manage. Let sit on a paper towel until meat mixture is ready.  

Prepare the Meat mixture

Make the instant rice. And put in a bowl with the two eggs and the ground beef. Add salt and pepper. Mix with a wooden spoon or your hands.  Make golf ball size meatballs with all of the mixture.  Put the Dutch oven on the stove and pour a little bit of chili sauce to cover the bottom of the pot. 

Prepare the Stuffed Cabbage

Take the cabbage leaf and place the meatball at the thickest part of the cabbage leaf and roll the cabbage leaf around the meatball, taking the thinnest part of the leaf and tucking it under the whole ball. It should be a nice wrapped meatball.  Take two of the smaller leafs and make it into a makeshift roll, which will stay together while cooking.  When you finish a meatball wrapped in cabbage, place it fold down in the bottom of the pot. Stack each stuffed cabbage until you finish the meatballs and cabbage. It should work out nicely. 

Prepare the Sauce and Stuffed Cabbage

Pour the rest of the chili sauce over all the stacked stuffed cabbages. Pour the Grape Jelly over the Stuffed Cabbage. Sprinkle the handful of golden raisins on top.  Cover and cook on low for about 2 hours. The sauce will cover all the stuffed cabbage. It’s best to make this at least 48 to 24 hours before serving and refrigerate. You can also freeze and reheat.  

To Serve

Use a large spoon and put stuffed cabbage in a shallow bowl or deep platter. Serve the stuffed cabbage with plenty of sauce and the raisins on top.

Kasha Varnishkes

Submitted by Lyssa Kligman Harvey 

Kasha-Varnishkas.jpg

Kasha Varnishkes is a traditional Ashkenazi Eastern European dish. The word Varnishkes is a Yiddish word for a Russian small stuffed dumpling called Varenichki. Kasha is a buckwheat grain that is originally from Asia. It is a creative dish that has a distinct flavor but can be also thought of as a Jewish comfort food.  I can’t remember the first time I tasted Kasha Varnishkes, but it must have been as an adult. The Kasha grain has a strong, toasted flavor and that seems to be the secret when preparing the dish.  I remember only eating this dish at Rosh Hashanah, but it is also served at the Sabbath meal. It is an excellent grain and pasta dish to accompany a brisket or chicken that has lots of sauce or gravy. I started adding it to my Rosh Hashanah meal to add a traditional recipe to the meal. I took several recipes and combined what I liked to make the one I use. I think it would be fun to ask people who have no idea what this dish is…what they think Kasha Varnishkes is! 

 

  • 1 box of Kasha / Buckwheat groats

  • 1 large onion chopped small

  • A dollop of chicken fat/ schmaltz or butter

  • 1 box of small bowtie noodles/ farfalle

  • 4 cups of chicken broth

  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Cook the box of bowtie noodles and drain. 

Fry the chopped onions in the chicken fat or butter until they are caramelized.  

Put the Kasha on an aluminum foil-covered cookie sheet sprayed with Pam and toast the Kasha grain, being careful not to let it burn. 

Bring the 4 cups of chicken broth to boil and put in the Kasha grain. Cook on medium until all the liquid is absorbed about 25-30 minutes. The Kasha should absorb all the water. Mix in the caramelized onions. 

Mix the cooked Kasha, onions and boiled noodles together in a large baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes. It will be dry.   

Serve with brisket or chicken - The Kasha Varnishkes will be a good base for the gravy. 

Rivkin’s Grocery & Delicatessen

Submitted by Olivia Brown

 

Smoked Salmon, Corned Beef, Kosher Dills:  An Introduction to the Food and Tradition of Rivkin’s Grocery & Delicatessen

Jacob Rivkin and his wife, Tama, arrived in Columbia, South Carolina in 1906 with three children in tow—Raphael, Sarah and Caba. As Russian immigrants, Jacob and Tama came to the United States for the same reasons as many others: to escape persecution and to embrace opportunity. By 1912, the Rivkins had a fourth child, Lewis, and Jacob had started his own business. Rivkin’s Grocery opened at 1012 Lady Street, with the family living in an apartment built above the store. They served the surrounding community—a diverse mixture of Jews, immigrants of other faiths and African Americans.[1]

Jacob Rivkin took out his first advertisement in Columbia’s The State newspaper in 1921; it showed prices for fresh country eggs, flour, and sugar, and boasted, “We make a specialty of chickens. Give us a try and be convinced.” People were convinced, and by 1926, Rivkin’s Grocery was operating at three locations, each run by one of Jacob’s three sons: the original Lady Street location by Caba, a new location on Gates (Park) Street by Lewis, and a third location on Calhoun Street by Raphael.[2] Jacob’s ability to sustain three groceries around Columbia, and to put them in the hands of his children, proved that economic sustainability was both achievable and sustainable.

A 1929 advertisement for Rivkin’s lists imported foods that were favored by central and eastern European Jewish immigrants and have sincebecome associated with Jewish food culture. An advertisement from 1932 goes one step further, and explicitly advertises “Kosher Imported Delicatessens.”[3] By importing kosher food, Rivkin’s was providing a very specific service to the Jewish community designed to draw in Jewish clientele with promises of food products reminiscent of the old country that would meet their dietary requirements.

Treyf food did not make an appearance in Rivkin’s advertisements until Caba opened a deli location in Five Points in 1939. In a full-page advertisement for the grand opening, however, potential customers learned that in addition to kashrut favorites, they could now have southern favorites as well.[4] At Rivkin’s, a Jewish customer could order smoked whitefish on rye with a dill pickle, while his non-Jewish neighbor could select a barbecue ham sandwich with a cold Budweiser on the side.

When Jacob ran the family business there was more emphasis on serving the Jewish community and adhering to traditional foods that followed the rules of kashrut. His son, Caba’s, status as a second-generation immigrant instead allowed him to balance the cultures of the old with the new. By 1948, both locations of Rivkin’s Delicatessen had been sold to Harold “Groucho” Miller, who would grow his business into a southern deli franchise that continues into the present with 32 locations spanning both North and South Carolina. The legacy of the Southern Jewish deli lives on, even if Rivkin’s does not. 

 1.  “Columbia City Directories” (Columbia, SC, 1888 1927), vol. 1910, Richland Library Historical Collections; “Columbia City Directories,” vol. 1917.

2.   “Advertisement, Rivkin’s Grocery,” State, September 2, 1921; “Advertisement, Rivkin’s Grocery,” State, July 31, 1926. The Gates (Park) Street location of Rivkin’s Grocery sits only one block from Baker’s Grocery in Columbia’s Ward One neighborhood.

3.   “Advertisement, Rivkin’s Delicatessen,” State, December 7, 1929; “Advertisement, Rivkin’s Delicatessen,” State, January 17, 1932.

4.   “Advertisement, Rivkin’s Delicatessen,” State, February 16, 1939.

Olivia Brown is a graduate student in Public History at the University of South Carolina. She can be reached at Instagram: @_oliviabrown, Twitter: @_ombrown

Image Credits:

Rivkin Wedding 1920: Members of the Rivkin family wedding party, posed for an unidentified photographer in 1920. Front row, L to R: Lewis Rivkin (1907 - 2002), his father, Jacob (1876 - 1962), and grandfather Avram (1853 - 1920); bride Rachel Winter (1902 - 1984). Back row, L to R: Tamara Rivkin (1874 - 1938) and daughter, Sarah (1910 - 1994); Caba Earle Rivkin, flanked by twins, Bessie (1893 - 1971) and Celia (1893 - 1978); groom, Raphael Rivkin (1899 - 1987). The entire family immigrated from Russia more than a decade earlier, with the exception of Lewis, who was born in the United States after the family's arrival in 1907. Image courtesy of Special Collections, College of Charleston

Rivkin’s 1921: Advertisement for Jacob Rivkin’s Grocery, DATE. Reprinted from The State, September 2, 1921

Rivkin’s ad 1929: By 1929, Rivkin’s was advertising its “Kosher Imported Delicatessens.” Reprinted from The State, December 7, 1929

Rivkin’s ad 1932: Rivkin’s second deli opened at 619 Harden Street in 1932. In 1941, Harold “Groucho” Miller purchased the deli, and it became the first Groucho’s Deli location in Five Points. Reprinted from The State, January 17, 1932

Rivkin Family: Members of the Rivkin family, including Caba and his wife, Katie Roth Rivkin (second from left), pose in front of Rivkin’s Grocery & Deli on Lady Street, circa 1935. This location was also sold to Harold “Groucho” Miller. Image courtesy of Special Collections, College of Charleston

Rivkin store exterior: Marquee sign for Rivkin’s Delicatessen, 619 Harden Street. Image courtesy of Special Collections, College of Charleston

Rivkin store interior: Caba Rivkin photographed inside Rivkin’s Deli, 619 Harden Street, sometime in the 1930s. Image courtesy of Special Collections, College of Charleston

Groucho Miller's Russian Blintzes

Submitted by Bruce Miller

Harold “Groucho” Miller, my grandfather and founder of Groucho’s Deli, was the son of Russian immigrants who arrived in America by 1899. One recipe that never made it to Groucho’s Deli menu was learned by Groucho Miller during a stint as a Vaudeville emcee in Philadelphia (1920s). He befriended a Russian/Jewish comedian who taught him one of his favorite recipes -- Russian blintzes! Blintzes are a time-consuming and labor-intensive recipe. They were available for sale at Miller’s Deli on opening day in 1940 (a year later the name was changed to Groucho’s Deli), for a very limited time. They had to be made at my grandparents house in Shandon (because of the cooking process). You can see the blintzes in the refrigerated display case in this opening day picture. Although it was a classic Jewish/Russian delicacy, it was a tough sell in Columbia, South Carolina. It was soon discontinued in Miller’s, but was always savored at their house on Shabbat.

To learn more about Bruce’s grandparents, Groucho and Ethel Miller, and parents, Ivan and Faye Miller, click here and here. For more history about Groucho's, please see this entry in the CJHI web-based tour and Groucho's website.

Photo is and remains property of Groucho’s Franchise Systems LLC

Photo is and remains property of Groucho’s Franchise Systems LLC

  • Sour cream to pass around

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon to sprinkle on (optional)

  • Zest of 1 and 1/2 lemons

  • 1/2 cup or more sugar, to taste

  • 1 lb curd cheese

  • 1/2 lb cream cheese

  • 2-3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

  • Confectioners' sugar to sprinkle on (optional)

  • 3/4 cup currants or raisins soaked in a little rum for 1/2 hour (optional)

  • A few drops of vanilla extract (optional)

  • 3 egg yolks

  • 1/2 Tablespoon oil plus more for greasing the pan

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 egg

  • 2/3 cup water

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1 1/4 cups milk

 

Add the milk and water to the flour gradually, beating vigorously. Add the egg, salt and oil. Beat the batter until smooth. Leave to rest for 1-2 hours.

Heat a nonstick frying pan–with a bottom not wider than 8 inches (20 cm)–and grease very lightly with oil. Pour about half a ladleful of batter into the frying pan and move the pan around so the entire surface is covered with batter. The batter and the resulting pancake should be thin. As soon as the pancake is slightly browned and detached, turn it over with a spatula and cook a moment only on the other side. Continue until all the batter is used and put the pancakes in a pile.

For the filling, blend the curd and cream cheese with the sugar, lemon zest, egg yolks, and vanilla, if you like, in a food processor. Then stir in the raisins, if using.

Take each pancake, 1 at a time, put 2 heaping tablespoons of filling on the bottom half, fold the edge of the pancake over the filling, tuck in the sides so that it is trapped, and roll up into a slim roll. Place the rolls side by side in a greased oven dish. Sprinkle with butter and bake in a preheated 375 F (190 C) oven for 20 minutes.

Serve hot, dusted with confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon, if you like, and pass the sour cream for people to help themselves.

Heidi's Challah

Submitted by Heidi Lovit

Challah, braided yeast bread, is traditional to have for weekly Shabbat and High Holiday meals.  Many years ago I took on the responsibility for being the bread maker for my family.  I have to admit, I changed recipes several times since my original recipe called for 9 eggs.  Challah is considered an egg bread so I thought that was normal until I became conscious of increased cholesterol from that many eggs in one recipe. Several recipes called for more yeast and less eggs and I finally found the perfect combination for my recipe.  I do think one of the secrets is adding an extra tablespoon of honey to give it a sweet taste and it also makes the texture slightly more moist. 

Growing up in Columbia, my family would come together every Friday night for a Shabbat dinner.  At that time we probably had challah made from a bakery because I don’t remember my mother baking bread.  I learned how to make brisket and meatballs with cabbage and other Jewish foods from my mom, but not bread. My mother’s sister, Phyllis Firetag Hyman, shared her recipe with me when I was in high school and I started baking challahs for the High Holidays.  From then on, no more bakery challahs for our family.  I would always make sure we had challah for Shabbats and every holiday.  I even made extra round challahs with raisins for Rosh Hashanah to share with our family friends, the Levinsons, Polinskys and Levines and a few others.  I even remember one time going over to Gloria Rittenberg’s home to teach her how to make Challah.  When my children were younger I would get them involved in the mixing, kneading and braiding.  When the kids moved away, I always made it a point to send them each a fresh challah for the holidays if they could not make it home.  I am happy to say that my daughter, Morgan, still follows my recipe and bakes challah today.  Every time she does, I get a beautiful photo of her fresh baked bread.  She loves to share with her friends and coworkers.  Sharing recipes with friends is always fun, but when you share a traditional Jewish recipe with others of different faiths it helps to teach about our culture.  Sally Patterson, a Presbyterian and a friend for over 40 years, now makes challah for her family.  

Beth Shalom Synagogue has a fundraiser every fall, called Bubbie’s Food Extravaganza. The very first year in 2009, it was Bubbie’s Bake-Off, a competition for the best recipes of brisket, kugels, chicken soup and challah. I entered my challah recipe and won first place.  For the past seven years I have baked hundreds of challahs in the synagogue kitchen for the annual Bubbie’s Food Extravaganza.  This has also given me the opportunity to teach dozens of women in our synagogue this beautiful and traditional food art of kneading dough and braiding bread.  This year the event is scheduled for Sunday, November 12th. Come by and purchase several loaves of bread, they freeze perfectly for months.     

Making Heidi's Challah at the Beth Shalom Synagogue.

Making Heidi's Challah at the Beth Shalom Synagogue.

Makes 7-8 loaves.

  • 4 cups warm water
  • 4 packages yeast (1 ounce total or 3 tbls)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 13-14 cups bread flour
  • 3 eggs (save one for brushing loafs)
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Poppy seeds

Dissolve yeast in water and add sugar and salt. Let stand until bubbly. Put 7 cups flour in large bowl. Combine oil and two beaten eggs, add 2 tablespoons honey to the mixture. Add to flour. Slowly mix in yeast mixture, making sure all flour is mixed in. (This can be done by hand with a wooden spoon or in an extra-large mixer with dough hook attachment.) Add 5 to 6 more cups flour slowly and mix well until slight gooey but easy to manage. (Hand kneading is best.) Transfer ball of dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise for 2 hours. Knead and divide into seven balls to make seven challahs. Take each ball, divide it into three or four strands and braid, making sure you pinch and tuck the ends under the loaf. While kneading and braiding, keep flour on counter surface to keep dough from sticking. Place braided challahs on pan that is lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Let rise for another 30 minutes to an hour. Brush top with egg wash (one beaten egg should cover all seven challahs). Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown.

 

Grandma Ida's Lukshen Kugel

Submitted by Lyssa Kligman Harvey

My grandmother, Ida Lomansky Kligman (1901-1984) cooked Jewish dishes like a woman from the “old country.” She was born in Poland and came to America with her younger sister, Bluma. She met my grandfather, Louis Kligman, and they married in 1925.

I remember going to synagogue on Friday nights at the Marion St. synagogue and then having Shabbat dinner with them in their home on Kilbourne Rd. and in their duplex on Bull St. Grandma made chicken in a pot, brisket and of course for the holidays she made this authentic kugel!

  • 8 oz. of wide flat noodles uncooked
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • ½  cup of sugar
  • ¾ stick of butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of apricot jam
  • Raisins (optional) 

Boil noodles and drain. Add ¾ cup of butter. Cream the sugar and cream cheese. Beat eggs and add to the mixture. Add the milk and apricot jam slowly. Mix all together. Put in a 9 x 12 buttered Pyrex pan. Add the topping.

Topping:

  • 2-3 cups of crushed Corn Flakes
  • 1/4/cup of sugar
  • cinnamon

Bake 45 minutes- 1 hour at 350.

Serves 6-8

Freezes well.

Rachel's Collards

Submitted by Rachel Gordin Barnett

How I (Finally) Learned to Love Collards

When I was a kid growing up in a small Southern town, the staple lunch was fried chicken, rice and collards. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I could really appreciate those collards. Many Southern vegetable recipes call for pork for seasoning, but in my mother’s semi-Kosher Jewish kitchen, that wasn’t happening. So, to flavor the collards, a pinch of sugar, salt, pepper and butter were used.  I have “skinnied” my recipe now to use olive oil and chicken or vegetable broth to flavor. Italian seasoning and diced tomatoes adds a bit more “gourmet” taste.

  • 16 oz. bag of fresh collards (or one bunch – but will need to be thoroughly cleaned and chopped)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken (or vegetable) broth
  • 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (or in season - fresh tomatoes work)
  • Small onion, diced
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Sauté chopped onion in olive oil until soft.  Add fresh collards, diced tomatoes, chicken (or vegetable broth), Italian seasoning, pinch of sugar, S & P. Give a good stir. Cover and cook on medium until vegetables are soft. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Why Kugels and Collards?

Food can tell a story. Delicious aromas, the taste of a special spice, a china pattern used for a holiday dinner can elicit memories, take us back to a particular time and place, and define a moment in history for us.

Why a blog devoted specifically to Jewish cooking memories? Because, our responses to sights, smells, tastes can help us tell our stories. Even today, when my kids come home and a brisket is cooking, they immediately know it is their grandmother Mimi’s brisket recipe. From those wonderful aromas wafting through our house, stories about Mimi’s Rosh Hashana dinners come pouring out. Great memories abound.

Columbia, South Carolina, is a town that relishes its Southern food culture. This focus on food is multiplied in the Southern Jewish home.  The “Southern” part of that identity was often embodied in the local cultures that define Southern cooking, among them African-American influences in traditional Southern cooking (minus the pork in vegetables!) combined with traditional Jewish recipes, many from our immigrant great-grandparents and grandparents.  A “Southern Jewish” food culture emerged. It is not unusual to have collard greens – a Southern staple that has its roots in the African-American culture - alongside fried chicken, “Jewish” brisket, tsimmes, rice, black-eye peas and the omnipresent kugel (noodle pudding) at a dinner table! Kugels and collards co-exist on the Southern Jewish table easily and are symbolic of the intertwining of our food cultures.

Kugels and Collards was born out of our interest in studying the history of these merging Southern and Jewish elements in our food ways in Columbia, South Carolina. Our hope is through recipes and memories we can collect, preserve, and share this special history with our readers.