A Kugels & Collards Thanksgiving

With contributions by Katharine Allen, Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey

Thanksgiving at the Parlor Restaurant

By Katharine Allen

Advertisement promoting Thanksgiving at Ben David’s Parlor Restaurant, 1910. Reprinted from  The State , November 22, 1910.

Advertisement promoting Thanksgiving at Ben David’s Parlor Restaurant, 1910. Reprinted from The State, November 22, 1910.

On November 22, 1910, The State ran an advertisement touting the Thanksgiving menu offered by Ben David, the proprietor of the Parlor Restaurant. The food included American staples like crème of celery soup, “prime ribs of western beef,” “mashed and whole boiled potatoes,” and of course, turkey, albeit with “chesnut dressing.” By then, the Parlor Restaurant’s reputation for providing excellent food and service at reasonable prices had helped Columbia become “the square meal town.” For 18 years, David served legislators, businessmen, students, and tourists a plethora of foodstuffs – particularly oysters and wild game – that were likely at odds with the kosher upbringing of his parents, if not himself.

“The best caterer in town.”

Benjamin “Ben” David was born in Poland in 1853 and immigrated to the United States as a toddler with his parents and siblings. He spent the 1870s through 1890s operating liquor stores and saloons before opening the Parlor Restaurant in 1896. Initially located in the Kendall Building on Washington Street, the Parlor Restaurant raised its profile through print advertising and elaborate storefront displays

Advertisement for Parlor Restaurant, which featured “Fresh Norfolk Oysters” daily. Reprinted from  The State , January 26, 1897.

Advertisement for Parlor Restaurant, which featured “Fresh Norfolk Oysters” daily. Reprinted from The State, January 26, 1897.

Description of the “Fenestral Art” displayed in and around the Parlor Restaurant’s storefront. Reprinted from  The State , January 26, 1897.

Description of the “Fenestral Art” displayed in and around the Parlor Restaurant’s storefront. Reprinted from The State, January 26, 1897.

In 1900, David moved his restaurant to 1336 Main Street, where he remained open night and day for more than 10 years.

Advertisements for the Parlor Restaurant frequently used Ben David’s likeness. Reprinted from the University of South Carolina’s 1902  Garnet and Black  yearbook.

Advertisements for the Parlor Restaurant frequently used Ben David’s likeness. Reprinted from the University of South Carolina’s 1902 Garnet and Black yearbook.

The planned construction of the Arcade Mall at 1332 Main Street forced the Parlor Restaurant to relocated across the street, where it remained until 1913. Upon his death in 1920, “Uncle Ben” was eulogized in The State. Edward N. Carpenter, a friend from his youth, summed up his life thusly: “one of the best men [I] had ever known. In charitable causes he was generous, too much so it is said. His life was one of usefulness.” David, along with his siblings, is buried at the Hebrew Benevolent Society Cemetery in Columbia.

Thanksgiving Memories: Cranberry Relish and Corn Pie

 Rachel Gordin Barnett and Lyssa Kligman Harvey

Like many Southern Jewish families, our families gathered together each year with extended family to enjoy both religious and secular holidays. Of course, the dinner table was the epicenter these happy celebrations. Menus were well-established with family-designated cooks knowing exactly what their contribution to the menu was for any given meal.

Thanksgiving was one of those celebrations. When our children were young, we would all gather—the Levinsons, Kligmans, and Dickmans—to enjoy the festivities. Selma and Max Dickman hosted for years, first at their home on Lake Murray and then when Max passed away, Selma would host Thanksgiving in her beautiful home in Spring Valley. There was an annual photo taken of the children – each year the photo added a couple of “newcomers” until we had a good 16 or so!

The Thanksgiving meal was a wonderful combination of traditional Thanksgiving dishes, combined with several Jewish contributions (the omnipresent kugel and brisket for instance!) Everyone was assigned a dish and over the years that became their traditional annual contribution for Thanksgiving.

Cranberry Relish

By Lyssa Kligman Harvey

My contribution is a cranberry relish made from fresh cranberries and citrus fruit. It has graced the family Thanksgiving table over the last 20 years. The cranberry relish is not only good with turkey, but also on sandwiches and served with cheese platters. I make a big batch to give away for the holidays, wrap it jelly jars, and with friends and neighbors.

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  • 16-oz. bag of cranberries

  • 2  medium-sized oranges

  • 2 lemons

  • 3 Granny Smith apples

  • 1 jar of raspberry preserves 

Rinse off cranberries and place in food processor with chopping blade. Chop cranberries into very small pieces and place in a large bowl. Quarter and seed oranges, lemons, and apples and place in food processor. Chop these fruits into very small pieces and add to the cranberries. Add the jar of raspberry preserves. Mix well. If the cranberry relish is a little too tangy add a little sugar to taste.

Serve in a bowl, or can be canned in jars. Relish must be refrigerated. It will last for about 6 months in a tightly sealed jar. Good with turkey, ham, on sandwiches, or on brie cheese or cream cheese.

Corn Pie

By Rachel Gordin Barrett

My contribution is a recipe that I found in an old Southern Living cookbook that, with a few tweaks, is almost as good as the corn pie Ethel Glover used to make me when I was a child in Summerton, South Carolina. She has always been a cooking inspiration for me and many of my recipes today are from her kitchen.

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  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 4 tablespoons flour

  • 1 ½ tablespoon sugar

  • 1 cup milk (I use 2%)

  • 3 cans cream style corn (17 oz.)

  • ¾ teaspoon salt

  • 4 eggs

Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour. Stir well to make a roux. Add sugar and salt. Stir constantly 1 minute until smooth. Slowly add milk, stirring until thick. Add corn to the mixture. Crack and beat eggs in a separate bowl. Slowly add eggs to corn mixture. Pour into a greased 9 x 12 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.

Beth Shalom Synagogue Celebrates Ten-Year Anniversary of Bubbie’s Brisket and Bakery Extravaganza!

An interview with Randy Stark by Lyssa Harvey

Randy and Cindy Stark with their children.  Image courtesy Randy Stark

Randy and Cindy Stark with their children. Image courtesy Randy Stark

It was 10 years ago when Columbian Randy Stark had an idea—a Jewish brisket cooking contest! Randy’s vision was for this to be the premiere Fall Jewish Food Festival.  He presented this to the Beth Shalom Synagogue Board, and just like that “Bubbie’s Brisket Bakeoff” was born.  Bubbie is the Yiddish word for grandmother, or great grandmother.  The first event was held on September 13, 2009 and cleared $100.00. Today, this popular Fall Jewish Food Festival has morphed into “Bubbie’s Brisket and Bakery Extravaganza,” sometime referred to simply as “Bubbie’s.” It is the only kosher food festival in South Carolina, and last year it clearly proved to be a successful fundraising event for Beth Shalom after selling out its most popular dishes. Randy, the founder and creator of this festival, says it is bigger and better than ever. The festival features all-kosher items: Chicken Soup, Brisket, Corned Beef Sandwiches, Stuffed Cabbage and Meatballs and Challah, as well as some Israeli foods. It also features a bakery of homemade cakes and cookies. Rugelach is a favorite. (See below for Randy’s mother, Suzi Stark’s, recipe.) 

Randy and his original crew of volunteers, Dan Matzner, Amy Berger, and Terri Hodges, organized the first year of the Jewish cookoff. Randy remembers staying up all night with excitement and nervous energy the night before. He wanted to make sure everything was in place for the next morning.  And when the decision to do this again came along—their family and friends wouldn’t let them not do it. Randy’s parents, Scrappy and Suzi Stark, Dan’s parents, Gad and Bobbie Matzner, Terri’s parents, Ben and Arlene Perlstine, along with many other Beth Shalom volunteers, pitched in to make the second year work! It transitioned from a cookoff into a food festival. It took hours of hard work . According to Randy, “it was a labor of love. Our parents and children and friends joined in to make it a fun community event.”

Randy’s original goal for a premiere Jewish Food Festival has come true, but he says that his favorite aspect of the festival is “the spirit de corps.” He really enjoys working together with new and old Beth Shalom members, who volunteer both in and out of the kitchen to get the festival ready!  It brings the synagogue community together for a common goal. According to Randy, the festival is a different kind of spirituality. It’s one of connections and joy that he personally cherishes as a Jewish value.

Three generations of the Stark family, including Suzi and Scrappy Stark (at far right).  Image courtesy Randy Stark

Three generations of the Stark family, including Suzi and Scrappy Stark (at far right). Image courtesy Randy Stark

The Stark family have long been an integral part of Columbia’s Jewish community. Randy Stark is the youngest son of Suzi and Scrappy Stark. His older brother, Andy, lives in Memphis. He was born in Norfolk, Virginia, his parent’s hometown. The family moved to Columbia in 1971 when Randy was 1 ½ years old, and he considers himself a native Columbian. His father retired after a career as an admissions officer at USC, and his mother served on the at Benedict College for 20 years. After graduating from the University of Alabama, Randy interned at Disney in Orlando, where he met his wife, Cindy. They both attended the University of Florida where he received his MBA and Cindy her nursing credentials. Since returning, they have always lived in close proximity to the Jewish Community Center and the synagogue, where their sons have gone to Sunday school and their oldest two have celebrated their Bar Mitzvahs. As a child, Randy grew up at the old Jewish Community Center on Trenholm Road and remembers his days of playing interfaith basketball. Now, Randy serves as a basketball coach for the interfaith league and also on the Beth Shalom Synagogue Board. Randy and Cindy are both “doers,” and he credits the strong, positive feelings of growing up in a close Jewish community for his strong Jewish activism today. He is proud that his parents are receiving this year’s Beth Shalom synagogue’s highest award, called “The Magen David Award,” for their service to the synagogue and community.

Cindy and Suzi Stark at Bubbie’s Brisket, 2017.  Image courtesy Randy Stark

Cindy and Suzi Stark at Bubbie’s Brisket, 2017. Image courtesy Randy Stark

Randy shared a fond memory from the first 5 years of Bubbie’s  when he gathered a team of his buddies to prep the festival’s chicken soup. Picture a gaggle of guys, listening to music, drinking a few cold ones, and cutting up carrots, celery, and onions while just plain cutting up. He still remembers the laughter of those long evenings. The recipe is one contributed by his wife, Cindy Stankiewicz Stark. She was given a Passover cookbook by her mother-in-law, Suzi Stark, when she and Randy married over 22 years ago. Cindy has tweaked it over the years to make it the award-winning and best-selling chicken soup for the festival. Cooking the chicken soup for the festival entails three 20-gallon pots of chicken broth, 12 chickens, 9 pounds of carrots, celery, and 12 onions. The cooking crew does this twice! 

Randy admits that his favorite thing at the Food Festival is the big corned beef sandwich. “It’s kosher meat brought in from Griller’s Pride in Atlanta and it’s just delicious. I think it’s hands down the best corned beef sandwich in the South! Better than Carnegie or Katz deli in New York.” Ten years ago, Randy’s idea of the Brisket Bakeoff was a winner, and Bubbie’s Brisket and Bakery Extravaganza carries on the tradition today. As for Randy and Cindy, they entered their Matzo Ball (chicken soup) recipe in that first year’s cookoff, and it won! They proudly display their bronze engraved award for the chicken soup in their kitchen. 

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Rugelach

By Suzi Stark

  • 1/2 cup butter ( I use Breakstone's unsalted whipped butter) 

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • 3 tablespoons sugar

  • 3 cups flour

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1 package dry yeast

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (if desired)

Mix creamed butter, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla. Add yeast and flour and salt. Divide into 6 parts and refrigerate overnight. Roll out each ball into a 9-inch circle. Spread cinnamon, nut, sugar, and/or preserves. (I add some unsalted butter.) Cut into pie-shaped wedges and roll into rugelach shapes. Place on buttered cookie sheets. Bake approximately 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

Three Bubbie’s classics: corned beef, matzo ball soup, and brisket.  Image courtesy Randy Stark

Three Bubbie’s classics: corned beef, matzo ball soup, and brisket. Image courtesy Randy Stark

Award-Winning Matzo Ball Soup

By Cindy Stankiewicz Stark

Soup:

  • 1 chicken, 3-5 pounds

  • 1 large onion diced

  • 1-2 carrots, sliced or diced

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 5-6 peppercorns

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon marjoram

  • 1 tablespoon thyme

Wash chicken, removing fat and skin. Place in large (at least 6-quart) pot. Add water, one quart per pound of chicken. Bring to a boil, skimming as needed. Simmer for 30 minutes, then add vegetables and seasonings. Simmer covered for 1 ½ - 2 hours until chicken is tender. Remove chicken (which can be used for other meals). If desired, strain soup. Add matzo balls.

Matzo balls (yields 16-18):

  • 4 tablespoons oil or fat

  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten

  • 1 cup matzo meal

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 4 tablespoons soup stock or water

Mix fat or oil and eggs together. Mix together matzo meal and salt and all fat or oil and eggs. When well blended, add soup stock or water. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Bring to boil 2-3 quarts of water. Form balls about the size of walnuts from the matzo meal mixture and drop them into the boiling water. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Remove matzo balls and add to warm chicken soup.

Sylvia Fisher’s Passover Matzo Ball Soup

Submitted by Suzi Fields

Main Ingredient: Love

In this post, Suzi Fields recounts how one recipe, her mother’s Passover Matzo Ball Soup,  has connected multiple generations of her family. Although her mother, Sylvia Fisher, did not keep kosher, her grandmother did, and Sylvia was raised to prepare foods according to Jewish tradition, including on holidays, festivals and the Sabbath. After spending their careers in Detroit, Michigan, Sylvia and her husband, George, retired to Spartanburg in 1982 to be near Suzi, her son-in-law, Dr. Sander Fields, and grandchildren. 

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Suzi on the relationship between her mother and her son: 

Our, son, Andy, at the age of twelve in 1983, nominated my mother, Sylvia Fisher, to be The Spartanburg Herald Journal’s, “Cook of the Month.” He wrote that his grandmother was the best cook in the whole world and that she was an expert on making traditional Jewish food. One of his favorite dishes was a combination of her chicken and matzo ball soup. He said the main ingredient that goes into all of her recipes is an enormous amount of love!' 

…and on Sylvia’s great-grandson keeping the family tradition alive: 

Unbelievable as it may seem, her great-grandson, Parker Jordan Fields, at the age of ten, entered my mother’s chicken and matzo ball soup recipe in “The Healthy Comfort Food Contest” at Polo Road Elementary School in Columbia. Low and behold, he won first place, which entitled him to participate in the Richland County School District 2 school-wide contest on March 16th, 2017

Parker Fields. Image courtesy Suzi Fields

Parker Fields. Image courtesy Suzi Fields

Sander and Suzi Fields with their grandson, Parker. Image courtesy Suzi Fields

Sander and Suzi Fields with their grandson, Parker. Image courtesy Suzi Fields

Parker Fields. Image courtesy Suzi Fields

Parker Fields. Image courtesy Suzi Fields

Chicken Soup

  • 4 or 5 chicken breasts, or small chicken

  • 1 large onion

  • 5 carrots, sliced

  • ½ green pepper

  • 4 sticks celery

  • 1 chicken bouillon cube

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Boil water, add chicken, add vegetables. Cook about 1 hour. To serve clear, remove chicken and vegetables, or serve with carrots. 

Matzo Balls  

  • 2 tablespoons chicken fat or oil

  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten

  • ½ cup Matzo meal

  • ½ teaspoon salt, if desired

  • 2 tablespoons soup stock or water

Mix fat and eggs together. Combine Matzo meal and salt; add to egg mixture. When well blended, add soup stock or water.  Cover mixing bowl and place in refrigeration for at least 20 minutes. When chilled, form into balls.  

Using a 2 or 3 quart pot, bring salted water to a brisk boil. Reduce flame and drop balls into slightly bubbling water. Cover pot and cook 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from pot and put balls into chicken soup pot.  

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

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. 

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

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.

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.