Jewish food festival gives taste of culture

November 14, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

People from throughout Washington County got a chance Sunday to expand their culinary horizons without even putting on an apron.

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The sisterhood of Congregation B'Nai Abraham held its annual Jewish Food Festival at the synagogue social hall that afternoon.

More than 250 people attended the event, which featured matzo ball soup, beef brisket, potato knishes, blintzes, noodle puddings, chopped liver, kosher hot-dogs, stuffed cabbage, couscous and kasha, a mixture of pasta and buckwheat.

Desserts included cheesecake, Danish pastry, tarts, cookies and cakes. Other items available for purchase were challah, rye and pumpernickel breads.

The food at the festival was available a la carte and served cafeteria style.

About 120 families in the congregation helped with the festival by preparing for the event, cooking, serving and cleaning up, said Jeanne Jacobs, a member of B'Nai Abraham.

"Everyone contributes to make it a success," she said.

The festival is an interfaith project between the congregation and the Christian community, she said.


The event was a way for people to get not only a taste of Jewish food but also of Jewish culture, said Rabbi Janice Garfunkel of B'Nai Abraham.

Visitors were able to tour the synagogue and meet Garfunkel during the event.

Money raised by the food festival will be used for various B'Nai Abraham projects, including the congregation's school library, said Jacobs.

The festival started out more than 18 years ago as a combination food and craft show, said Jacobs.

Organizers decided to focus on food because of an increasing number of craft shows, she said.

The food festival has become popular, Jacobs said.

"People call all the time and asked us when it is so they don't miss it," she said.

The food is prepared by the men and women of the congregation, and the menu is flexible, she said.

The cooks use their own family recipes.

Many nonmeat dishes such as kasha and noodle pudding were added for vegetarians, Jacobs said.

The beef brisket, along with potato knishes, matzo ball soup and blintzes, were the big favorites Sunday afternoon, she said.

For Betty DeSensi of Hagerstown, the stuffed cabbage and beef brisket were the best of all the items.

"I wanted to try all the different dishes," DeSensi said. "Everything is delicious."

She said she and a friend try to attend the food festival every year and enjoy the experience.

Doris Sager loves ethnic food but doesn't love to cook, so she and her husband Thomas make the Jewish Food Festival an annual stop, she said.

"The food is delicious, and I like to socialize with people here," she said.

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