As November begins it brings with it anticipation for Thanksgiving, about three weeks away, and for Chanukah, a little more that 1 month from now. In addition to these major holidays, I am excited to announce some very special events that are coming up this month, where I will be able to bring history to life by sharing foods and recipes, stories and memories.
As we look forward to the tradition of the holidays that are ahead, I reflect back to the memories, to the foundation that has passed the tradition from one generation to the next, from my grandparents, all murdered by the Nazis, to my parents, who survived the horror and tragedy, to my generation, and to our children and grandchildren, the future.
This Tuesday evening, I am taking part in an event at a Day School, the purpose of which is to interview survivors and make a documentary of their lives. I will be telling stories of life in Eastern Europe, making the each survivor’s story of the Holocaust become a personal memory. Through the foods, such as Hot Chocolate, we will uncover how they got milk fresh from the cow, bringing their own bucket to the farmer, talk about the open market, how fruits and vegetables were preserved, etc. We will also look deeper into stories about holidays and during the War, all through foods. Foods bring the memories vividly to life and we can taste the culture and warmth of community.
On Thursday evening, November 12, my husband and I will be hosting an evening of Food and Tradition. Matan, a graduate women’s program in Israel, will be having an evening of learning, with scholar Rabbanit Shani Taragin. She will be speaking about history, through stories in the Torah (Bible), and offering tastings of the foods from my book, Food Family and Tradition. It should be a truly meaningful evening; and proceeds from the book will go to benefit Matan.
Sunday, November 15 from 1 to 3 p.m. is a most exciting event. I will be making Quince Preserves and sharing other tastings from the book at Bloomingdales Home Store in downtown Chicago. By the way, this is Friends & Family at Bloomingdales and I am participating in it and the book will be for sale at the 25% discount just as everything in the store. Be sure to stop by, share the food and the history – and pick up a few copies of the book for gifts.
I invite anyone who is in Chicago to join us, as we share the vision and journey of the book, bringing history to life through the lens of food. We will talk about foods indigenous to Eastern Europe and the traditional dishes that were prepared using them. These traditional dishes live on in our kitchens and homes today, along with memories of life in the cities, towns and villages of Eastern Europe. It is one thing to read a traditional recipe for quince preserves, and prepare it using modern conveniences such as an automatic gas or electric stove. But in my mother’s day, her grandparents had a quince tree in their yard. They simply picked the quince by hand (we buy ours at a market), and they cooked on a wood-burning stove, learning how and when to add wood so the fire wouldn’t go cold in the middle of the many hours needed to cook the preserves.
And finally, on Thursday, November 19, I will be sharing the foods and the memories with the Daughters of Survivors group of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Chicago.
With gratitude for my parents who preserved and passed on their family traditions to me, my children and grandchildren, I wish you all a warm Thanksgiving with friends and family and a very happy Chanukah, filled with wonderful foods and memories.