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.

The Soup Lady: The Amazing Talents of Jadzia Sklarz Stern

Submitted by Lilly Filler

Jadzia and Ben Stern, late-1950s. Image courtesy of Lilly Stern Filler.

Jadzia and Ben Stern, late-1950s. Image courtesy of Lilly Stern Filler.

Creplach or Kneidelach that was the question! 

My mom, Jadzia Sklarz Stern, was the ultimate cook and homemaker. She was the 4th of 8 children of Hadassah and Zev Sklarz of Poland and learned by watching her mother care for the family of 10. How and why my mother learned to cook remains a mystery to us all today since she was separated from her parents at age 13 never to see them again. She was a Holocaust Survivor and lost the formative years with her parents. However, not only did she survive, she thrived. Although she never had any formal education, she was a home executive and excelled in cooking, sewing, flower arranging and caring for her family. Her culinary skills were known throughout the community. 

Ben and Jadzia Szklarz Stern with their children, from left, Herbert Joel, Helena, Lilly, and William Harry, mid-1960s. Image courtesy of Lilly Stern Filler.

Ben and Jadzia Szklarz Stern with their children, from left, Herbert Joel, Helena, Lilly, and William Harry, mid-1960s. Image courtesy of Lilly Stern Filler.

Her specialties were many, but no one could make a soup like my mom.  She was The Soup Lady. When one of her 4 children (Lilly, Helena, Bill or Herb) would bring home an unexpected guest, there was always plenty of soup to go around. Without recipes, she made split pea, barley, vegetable. etc. and of course chicken soup. Her “recipe” was tasting, smelling and touching the food. She was amazing!! Yadzia’s chicken soup was renowned and continues to be made by her daughters, Lilly (me) and Helena, and her daughter-in-law Linda Cherry Stern. It was our good fortune that mom provided Linda with a recipe for her glorious Creplach, the king of all soup inclusions.  

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Creplach is a meat dumpling. A laborious long process is needed to make these delectable delicacies. As children, we often crowded around mom to watch and to count the number of Creplach that were made.  We made mathematical calculations of how many we each could eat, and we made sure no one “overstepped” that number. When my youngest brother Herb was about 10 years old, he was intently watching the Creplach making and began pacing around the room. My mom noticed his obvious “concern” and questioned what was wrong. He sheepishly asked, “Do one of my sisters have the recipe for the kreplach, so that just in case you (mom) was not around, could they make them?” We laughed for years about that story, so it was fitting that Linda (married to my brother Bill) went to help Mom in the late 80’s, right before the High Holidays and before brother Herb was to be married. Jadzia had undergone foot surgery and needed some assistance.  Thus, began a cherished tradition of one of the girls working with mom to prepare the delicious dumplings. 

Rosh Hashanah in Filler home, 1988. Image courtesy of Lilly Stern Filler.

Rosh Hashanah in Filler home, 1988. Image courtesy of Lilly Stern Filler.

Recipe of Creplach (makes about 70-75): As recited by Jadzia Stern during High Holy Days and typed by Linda Cherry Stern

  • 5lbs all purpose flour

  • 4lbs hamburger meat

  • 2lbs onion

Water has to be boiling so they don't stick to the bottom. You will need to change water after boiling around 20-30 creplach because they will start to stick.

Dough

  • 1 egg

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 2 tbsp. water

  • 1 cup flour

Beat egg, add salt and water. Add flour gradually and knead to a smooth loaf until it does not stick to the hand. Cut in half and roll out into a round or square. Cut into 4 strips down and across.

Filling

Use chopped meat - any leftover cooked roast that has been chopped very finely. For about 1.5-2 pounds of meant, add: 1-2 eggs to hold hold together, 1.5 tsp. salt, .5 tsp. pepper.

Saute the onions in schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) until clear before mixing with the meat

Fill squares and fold 3 cornered. Pinch together and close. Bring point up together to form like a cup. Boil large pot of water with a little salt added to water and drop creplach in and cook for 15 minutes or until they float to the top. This makes 30 and will fit into a large white enamel soup pot. To bake - 350 degrees, brush with chicken fat until light brown.

Recipe of Kneidalach (Matzo Balls)

Because of the enormous time spent making the Creplach, occasionally Kneidalach (matzo balls) were made.  The discussion among many (not the Stern family) was “what is the correct texture of Kneidalach”?  Were they to be soft or hard, fluffy or firm, small or large, from a box or “homemade”?  The debate continues today.  Jadzia’s matzo balls were homemade, firm and large, no debate there!! 

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  • 4 tbls. vegetable oil

  • 3-4 large eggs, slightly beaten (more eggs make a “harder matzo ball”)

  • 1 cup Matzo meal

  • 4 tbls. chicken soup (can add club soda if you prefer “lighter. fluffier balls)

  • 1-2 tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients before adding matzo meal.  Mix well and place covered in bowl in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  Then boil 3-4 quarts of salted water and form the chilled matzo balls with a teaspoon and your hands about 1 inch, and drop in the boiling water. Then cover for 1 hour.  Once cooked (they will double in size when cooked) they can be frozen on a cookie sheet or placed in the warm soup.  If you warm the soup, wait to put the Kneidalach in or they will get “mushy” if warmed too long. Makes about 16 Kneidalach. 

Recipe of Chicken Soup

  • Baking hen (NOT a chicken or roaster)

  • Leeks (1 large)

  • Carrots (6-8 large)

  • Celery (4-6 stalks)

  • Fresh Parsley and or Dill

  • Osem Consomme, seasoning mix 3-4 tbls.

  • 1-2 tbls. of salt, pepper to taste

Clean hen and salt well.  Boil 2-3 quarts of water and then add the hen.  Bring to boil again and skim the fat and such off the top.  Cover and boil for about 1-2 hours depending on size of hen. Clean and chop the leeks, carrots, and celery.  

Before adding the vegetables, add 3-4 tablespoons of Osem seasoning mix and salt and pepper to taste. (may add more or less to taste) Slowly add all vegetables to soup, put on low and simmer for another 2 hours, covered.  After cooking, cool soup and then refrigerate.  Best if made at least 1 day prior to eating.  Skim fat off the top of the soup and remove the hen before rewarming.  If your family likes the chicken in the soup, take if off the bone or cut the cooked chicken into small serving sizes and leave it in the soup.    

I fondly remember sitting around the holiday table with 2-4 soldiers from Fort Jackson, 2-4 students from USC and the family.  After the soup was served, most were finished with the meal, despite the fact that mom had made gefilte fish, brisket, potato kugel, vegetables, and apple cake.  There was no debate, the soup was the best whether we had Creplach or Kneidalach, it was delicious. 

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

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). 

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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.

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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

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.

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

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.