‘Holocaust Survivor Cookbook’ has recipes, meaning

MARGI LENGA KAHN, Special to the Jewish Light

“Recipes your family will enjoy… Stories they will never forget.”

So reads the tagline on the Holocaust Survivor Cookbook (Caras & Associates 2007.)The glossy cover is eye-catching — black and white photos from the early 1900s set above a colorful photograph of a beautifully braided challah and an appetizing bowl of matzo ball soup.

“There are 129 miracles in this book and one of the things they share in common is their starvation,” Joanne Caras told me in our phone conversation. Joanne and Gisela Zerykier came up with the concept for the book. The 129 miracles Caras refers to are the individuals who, despite having their families torn apart and enduring horrific treatment at the hands of the Nazis, survived. These two women wanted to honor Holocaust survivors with this book and, by so doing, help to provide food for the hungry.

Caras and Zerykier met through their daughter and son, Sarah and Jonathon, who were married in 2005. The young couple settled in Israel and, as a way to give back to their community, Sarah and Jonathon began volunteering at a soup kitchen called Carmei Ha’ir in Jerusalem. The soup kitchen serves more than 500 meals each day to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay. In fact it is the customer who decides how much they will pay for their meal by placing whatever amount of money they choose into a tzedakah box set on a table at the entrance to the restaurant. There are many who pay nothing and some who pay with a note of thanks. Every customer is treated with dignity and no one is made to feel more or less important.


During a trip to Israel the mothers-in-law took together, they visited Carmei Ha’ir. They were so impressed with the restaurant and the philosophy on which it is based that they decided to put together a cookbook to raise money to support the soup kitchen. It was only after Gisela’s mother, who was a Holocaust survivor, died that the concept for the cookbook evolved.

“We sent out press releases to Jewish newspapers around the United States asking for survivors to submit their stories along with cherished family recipes,” Caras told me. “Our goal was to include a story from Holocaust survivors on every continent of the world. I knew we had finally succeeded when I received a call from a woman in New Zealand whose husband was a survivor.” A portion of the sale price of every book goes to Carmei Ha’ir and 50 percent of the price of each book sold by organizations around the country goes to help fund a special program sponsored by that organization.

“I’m on a five-year world tour,” said Joanne Caras. “Our goal is to give a total of $1 million to the soup kitchen.” She and Gisela Zerykier are in the planning phase for the second edition of the book.

Though all the recipes have been reviewed by a kosher chef to make certain they can be reproduced in a kosher kitchen, none of the recipes have been formally tested. Some of the recipes list only the ingredients and some provide only the directions. Joanne Caras told me that she has made quite a few of the recipes with a great deal of success.

The 129 family vignettes that make up at least half of the book were submitted by Holocaust survivors, their friends, or their families. Each vignette is followed by a special family recipe. In some of the vignettes, the writer connects the story to the recipe.

For example, Luba Fineman, whose piece about her mother, Rose Meller Price, is on page 156 if the book:

“My mom, Rose, was an excellent cook. She didn’t use recipes. My sister and I would watch her while she cooked and baked, trying to figure out the correct measurements and we would write them down in order to keep some of her wonderful recipes.” Luba Fineman then includes her mother’s recipe for Apple Cake (below).

Margi Lenga Kahn, mother of five and grandmother of one, is the Community Relations Coordinator for the Center of Creative Arts (COCA) in University City. She also teaches cooking at the Kitchen Conservatory and in private homes. Cooking is a labor of love for Margi, who enjoys creating culinary delights for family and friends. Please send comments and suggestions to [email protected].

Rose’s Apple Cake (parve)

  • 5-6 granny apples (3 lbs.)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 stick margarine or 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 pinch of salt


1) Mix all ingredients except apples and knead into dough.

2) Set aside in refrigerator.

3) Peel and grate apples and sprinkle with sugar, at least four tablespoons (cinnamon optional.) Set aside.

4) Take dough out of refrigerator and divide it into two parts.

5) Roll out one part of dough and spread it into a greased cake pan (13x9x2.)

6) Spread apples evenly over dough.

7) Roll out remainder of dough and place it on top to cover apples.

8) Take a dull knife and draw a brick pattern on dough.

9) Poke holes with point of knife.

10) Sprinkle sugar on top.

11) Preheat oven to 350 and bake for one hour until done.


My Mother’s Gefilte Fish (Oma’s)

Bertha Schwarz includes the following explanation at the end of the piece she submitted about her mother on page 217:

“My mother used to make her gefilte fish for Friday night and later in life when the Holidays came along her job was to make the gefilte fish. My children who came from the USA could not wait to taste them. Nobody made them as well as she did. For Passover it was Oma’s gefilte fish that made the seder. The whole neighborhood knew that Oma was preparing for her family this most favorite dish. She passed away several years ago and none of us daughters can come close to the taste of her gefilte fish. As the High Holidays approach I would like to dedicate this recipe in her honor, from the family Schwarz, Pesach, and Mandelbrot and all her grandchildren who loved her very much.”

To file away for Passover, here is Oma’s recipe for Gefilte Fish (Parve)

  • 1 pound ground carp
  • 1 pound white fish ground plus bones and head
  • 3 big onions
  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 uncooked eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. matzo meal


1) Mix grated eggs and grated onions with fish.

2) Add salt and pepper.

3) Add 1/2 cup sugar to taste.

4) Add 2 tbsp. matzo meal to the 2 uncooked eggs.


In a flat pot make the sauce:

3 big onions chopped

3 cups of water

2 slices carrots

1) Cook onions and carrots. Add salt and pepper and 3 tbsp. sugar to taste. Let cook until it comes to a boil. Taste the sauce.

2) Make fish balls and add sugar to sauce if needed (check one ball to see if it holds.) If loose add more matzo meal.

3) Cook together for one hour at low heat. The fish should be cooked with the sauce. Drain the liquid and take out the fish ball from the sauce into a colander. Separate the head bones from the fish balls. The sauce should be refrigerated and served with the fish. You can add the carrot for decoration. This should me made one day ahead.