by Sandra Lee Buxton
Some people cook with flair, some cook with family, yet others take pleasure in cooking with history, and now you can too. Yes, I did mean history. I suggest that you visit the Holocaust Museum and pick up the special cookbooks that make this possible. Grab a copy for yourself of course and one for gift giving. The Holocaust Survivor Cookbook and Volume 2, Miracles and Meals are books that you will treasure for their delicious recipes and the touching stories of the families who provided them.
The cookbooks themselves started as a project of sorts and definitely became a labor of love. Two women, Joanne Caras and Gisela Zerykier traveled to Israel to visit their children, a young married couple. Visiting various sites, their children took them to a place where they did volunteer work. The “restaurant” in Jerusalem was Carmei Ha’ir, which was actually a soup kitchen bustling with business. What set this apart from other endeavors which offered meals to the needy, was the way it was structured and managed. Waiters provided menus, took orders and served warm delicious meals to people at their tables. Dignity and respect was paramount to this service and those who could afford to pay did so and those that could not, did not. Everyone at the soup kitchen was greeted with warm and caring behaviors and served a delicious meal, more than 500 meals a day to be exact.
Circumstances presented themselves and the idea was born to create a cookbook with recipes from the Holocaust survivors along with personal stories. The recipes and stories found in the two cookbooks have been gathered from around the world but also include the contribution of two survivors that live here in Naples, Rosette Gerbosi and Sabine van Dam.
Joanne Caras sums it up best, “Our cookbooks not only preserve the recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation but they also preserve the stories of Holocaust Survivors so that they will never be forgotten.”
“What is unique about our cookbooks is that we show the recipes exactly as they were given to us. For example our recipe for gefilte fish suggests that the fish should be kept in the bathtub before it is cooked. And some of the recipes called for “a little of this” and a “handful of that.” “Many of our recipes also have precise measurements and we felt it is was most important to preserve the history of our recipes.”
In Volume 2, Miracles and Meals there is a great story about Pine Ridge Middle school and their Social Studies project. This included an important educational opportunity for more than 700 students. Students heard survivor stories, had interactive student participation, which also included tasting foods prepared from the cookbook recipes.
Buying these books are a wonderful way to enrich your own home, and buying the books also blesses the lives of others. What better time of year then Christmas and Chanukah to spread joy. It should be stated that all of the profits from the sale of these two cookbooks goes to charity and to date more than a million dollars has been raised.
Stop by the Holocaust Museum and Educational Center of Southwest Florida at 4760 Tamiami Trail North Suite 7, 34103 or call to reserve your copies 239.263.9200.