Jewish festival helps bring community closer

November 14, 2005|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Fred Kramer left his post for only a few moments Sunday, taking time to munch on a knish and eat part of a bagel.

When he walked inside Congregation B'nai Abraham's synagogue at 53 E. Baltimore St. for his snack, he saw his wife, Renee, who had been busy for days preparing enough food to help feed the more than 200 guests at the synagogue's Jewish Food Festival.

"The food festival brings the congregation of the synagogue together, and it brings the community together," Fred Kramer said.

Kramer said he does not cook, but he has volunteered to greet every person at the festival since the first event in 1983.


"I'm the original greeter," he said.

Sunday's festival was the second in two years after a five-year hiatus.

Dan Greenwald, a congregation member, said most people eating at the festival are not members. Most members were busy serving food they had prepared, while community members sat down to eat.

Last year, volunteers ran out of food after only a few hours, so this time the congregation prepared twice as much food. At least 10 different traditional Jewish dishes were served.

The food was dished up cafeteria-style and a menu showed the cost per dish. All proceeds went to the synagogue's general fund.

Jeanne Jacobs stood behind a long table, heaping spoonfuls of brisket - a beef dish - onto outstretched plates. Jacobs, a former cooking instructor, said the beef is gently cooked until the meat is very tender.

Jacobs cooked five of the 25 briskets made for the festival - each weighing nearly five pounds.

She is also known as the "queen of the baked goods," by Greenwald, who said Jacobs made many baked goods for Sunday's event.

She made about 30 dozen rolls and other types of bread.

Eli Roza, of Hagerstown, loaded up on bread and chocolate deserts after eating lunch.

"I usually watch my calories during lunch, but today I'm just going all out," he said.

Roza had a kosher hot dog, a pasta dish and matza ball soup, which he said was delicious and high-quality.

"You just don't have that kind of food in town," Jacobs said.

She and another woman helped start the first food festival 22 years ago. Jacobs said the congregation wanted to do something at this time of year. She saw churches organizing Christmas bazaars and selling handmade items.

"Well, obviously we can't do a Christmas bazaar," Jacobs said. "So, we started the food festival."

Jacobs has prepared entres and baked goods for each of the congregation's food festivals since the inaugural event.

Linn Davison Jr. and his mother Elaine Burger, both of Hagerstown, came for the first time last year. This year, they chose menu items they didn't have a chance to eat last year.

Davison had the matza ball soup, stuffed cabbage, kugel and tzimmes - carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips and dried fruit in a sweet sauce. While he had trouble pronouncing the dish, he said the tzimmes was his favorite.

"It's nice of the Jewish community to open this up to the public," Burger said.

She and her son are not congregation members, but Davison said he has several friends who are, and he comes to the festivals to support them - and for the food.

"It's too much food," Burger said. "Everything looked too good."

The Herald-Mail Articles