Synagogue says 'shalom'

October 20, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

It's back.

The Jewish Food Festival will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24, at Congregation B'nai Abraham in Hagerstown.

A lady showed up last Sunday - a week early.

She had read a poster wrong, but she's among many who have been waiting for the festival's return.

"People missed it," said Carole Lafferman Fitzwater, event chairwoman. It was something that was important to the congregation and the community, she added.

The festival had been a project of the Hagerstown synagogue from 1982 through 1999. It was started to raise some money for congregation projects, and to welcome people into the synagogue.


Rabbi Fred Raskind, in Hagers-town a little more than a year, will experience his congregation's food festival for the first time.

"I think it's a wonderful idea," he said. He'll be giving tours of the sanctuary and answering general questions that visitors might have. And he'll be making chopped liver for the festival. Raskind will be using his mother's recipe; others will prepare their versions of the dish.

The festival is a good way to showcase aspects of Jewish culture with which others may not be familiar, she said.

The event hadn't happened for a few years.

"It's a lot of work, especially for the older members," Fitzwater said.

The event is a whole congregational effort, Fitzwater said. Younger Sunday school students are responsible for table decorations; older students will be clearing tables.

Those who originated the festival still are involved.

Jeanne Jacobs' contributions will include her Danish pastries and beef brisket. She's also making about 30 challah - traditional braided white breads - and 20 dozen hard-crusted rolls.

The brisket is a traditional Jewish food. The meat - not a naturally tender cut - is cooked for a long time. That's because kosher dietary laws prohibit eating meat from an animal's hindquarters, the generally more tender parts, Lieba Cohen explained. "Jewish food you cook forever," she laughed.

She said the festival is important. "It is the fact that we introduce ourselves to the community." It's also important that people from outside the congregation can come into the sanctuary and learn.

Cohen will make Chocolate Mint Brownies, Viennese Cream Cheese Brownies, Pecan Sandies and her Aunt Riva's Fudge Strudel.

"Everybody bakes the thing they make best," said Carol Mendelsohn. She will be making Linzer Tarts, her late cousin's recipe, and French Lace Rolls, something she hasn't made since the last festival. She can make six rolls at a time.

Food at the festival is served cafeteria style, and all menu items are a la carte. People can get a whole everything-made-from-scratch meal- from matzo ball soup to kasha varnishikas (buckwheat simmered in broth served with bow-tie pasta) to blintzes for $10 to $12. Carry-out will be available.

Congregation B'nai Abraham's Judaica store will be open. The festival benefits the synagogue's building fund, Fitzwater said.

Simchah is the Yiddish word for joyous event - a wedding, the birth of a child, Cohen said.

It also will apply to Sunday's festival.

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