Honoring Survivors Through Foods They Cherished



Falling on May 1 this year, Holocaust Remembrance Day also marks the anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. What could be more meaningful than honoring survivors through the foods they savored before World War II forever changed their lives?

Joanne Caras compiled the Holocaust Survivor Cookbook: Collected from Around the World. Alongside the 129 recipes in the book, she placed stories and photos of the contributors.

"This cookbook is a gift to future generations," said Caras, who wants the Holocaust to be more than a social-studies class to the children of tomorrow.

"I want the survivors to know we'll always remember them," said Caras, explaining that it wasn't the sadness of the Holocaust she tried to convey, but the survivors as strong people.

Eva Roitman of Bryn Mawr was 15 when the war broke out in Poland. She survived the war by passing as a retarded Catholic servant girl.

Dorothea Benjamini of Cherry Hill, N.J., was 16 when her family was taken to a labor camp in Romania, before being sent to a camp in Cypress. From years of starvation, they contracted typhus; her mother perished. Later living in Israel, Dorothea joyfully discovered what she recalled as her family's potato kugel recipe.

"This is not just a cookbook, but a mitzvah project," said Caras, explaining that some of the proceeds from book sales go to the Carmei Ha'Ir Soup Kitchen in Jerusalem, which serves 500 meals daily to poor Israelis.

Caras is seeking recipes and stories for a second cookbook. For information on either cookbook, go to: www.survivorcookbook.org or call 443-604-2643.

She is speaking at the Temple Beth Sholom Sisterhood in Cherry Hill, N.J., on May 5, at 7 p.m.

"This is my life's purpose," insists Caras. "It's what I was chosen to do — to get 6 million of these books with their stories out in the world."


'Liptauer' (Cheese Spread)


By Lillian Berliner of Beechhurst, N.Y., formerly of Hungary

  • 8 oz. whipped cream cheese 
    4 oz. margarine 
    11/2 Tbsps. minced onion 
    2 squirts of anchovy paste (usually sold in a tube) 
    paprika to redden the spread 
    accompaniments: crackers or bread

Mix all ingredients well and refrigerate.

Serve with crackers or bread.


Poached Carp (or Yellow Pike)


By Myra Genn of Tenafly, N.J., formerly of Trembowla, Poland

  • 1 large onion, sliced into circles 
    1 celery stalk 
    2 carrots 
    11/2 lbs. carp or pike (with bones) 
    salt and pepper to taste 
    optional accompaniment: bottled horseradish

Place the vegetables in a large pot covered by water. Cook them for 20 minutes.

Add the fish, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add more water if there isn't enough to cover the fish. Cook for 30 minutes more.

Cool to room temperature. Drain the water from vegetables and fish.

Lift out the bones and discard. Discard vegetables. Place the fish on a platter, cover and refrigerate.

Fish can be eaten cold, with horseradish, as an alternative to gefilte fish.


Sautéed Belgian Endives


By Cecile Roger of Pomona, N.Y., formerly of Brussels, Belgium

  • 3 large white and firm endives 
    1/3 Tbsp. sweet butter 
    1 Tbsp. beer (any type)

Wipe the endives with a paper towel. Do not wash them. Slice them in half, lengthwise.

Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat. Sauté endives until brown on all sides.

Lower the heat, add the beer and cover the pan. Simmer until endives turn gray and are medium soft.

Add a little more beer, if needed. However, endives give off a lot of liquid.

Serve warm.

Recipe can be reheated in the microwave.


Potato Kugel


By Dorothea Benjamini of Cherry Hill, N.J., formerly from the Austrian-Romanian border

  • 1/2 cup oil, plus more for greasing a 13-x-9 inch baking pan 
    6 Idaho potatoes 
    4 eggs 
    1/2 cup matzah meal 
    salt and pepper to taste 
    1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease baking pan with oil.

Peel the potatoes and grate them. Drain potatoes in a colander set over a bowl. Keep the drained water for later. Place potatoes in another bowl.

To the potatoes, add 1/2 cup oil, then matzah meal and toss until the potatoes are coated evenly. You might need a tad more oil.

If the mixture is too dry, add a little of the saved water. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add baking powder until well-blended.

Pour the potato mixture into the prepared pan and bake until the top browns.


Fruit Cake


By Arlette Baron of Baltimore, formerly of Paris, France

  • nonstick vegetable spray 
    3/4 cup sugar 
    1 Tbsp. baking soda 
    1/2 cup egg whites 
    1/2 cup oil 
    2 tsps. vanilla 
    2 cups flour 
    1 can of your favorite fruit pie filling 
    1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Coat a 9-x-13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, baking soda, egg whites, oil and vanilla. Add the flour and mix again.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. (It doesn't have to be perfectly patted down.)

Spread the fruit pie filling on top. Then sprinkle on the walnuts, if using.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the edges look brown.

Linda Morel is a writer based in New York City. E-mail her at: [email protected].



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