Start pre-heating, it’s cooking contest time

Linda Blumenthal

They say the third time is a charm. I’m not sure about that, but I do know that the 3rd Annual Jewish Light Cook-off Contest is the most ambitious one to date. This year, in time for Passover, we are asking St. Louis area chefs to send us their prize-winning brisket of beef recipes. After all, what seder would be complete without a delicious brisket on the table?

Together with the Jewish Community Center, we are asking you to submit your favorite brisket recipe-kosher or non-kosher, either is acceptable-and email it to [email protected], typing “brisket recipe” in the subject line. You need to list all ingredients as well as cooking instructions. Or you can mail it to Ellen Futterman, c/o St. Louis Jewish Light, 6 Millstone Campus Drive, Suite 3010, St. Louis, Mo. 63146. All entries must be typed (or clearly printed) and received by 5 p.m. Friday, March 16.


Our panel of judges will review the recipes and select the top 10. Criteria include originality, creativity, and degree of difficulty, with more points earned for those recipes that are easier to replicate. The 10 cooks will be notified shortly after March 16 and asked to bring their cooked brisket to the Adult Day Care Center at the JCC’s Arts and Education Building, 2 Millstone Campus Drive, at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 1. At that time judges will review and taste each entry, which can be served either warm or cold, once again, your choice (there will be no ovens for reheating). Judges will then decide on a winner and a runner-up, with prizes awarded to each. Both winning recipes will be published in the Light prior to Passover and all 10 recipes will be published online at

Feel free to email or call me at 314-743-3669 with questions or any samples you want to bring by.

Life after layoff

Cantor Linda Blumenthal told me Tuesday that she has taken a position to lead Friday night services once a month, along with High Holiday services, at United Hebrew Temple in Benton, Ill, which is about 120 miles southeast of St. Louis.

“This isn’t a high paying job but I am doing what I love, which is leading services,” said Blumenthal, 64, who was laid off from her full-time job as a cantor at Temple Israel at the end of 2008. She continues to live in Creve Coeur, though she added, “one of the perks is that my hometown of Harrisburg, Ill. is an hour away from Benton. So after I was finished with my audition service Jan. 13, I drove to my sister-in-law and brother’s house in Harrisburg and spent the night with them. That sweetened the pot.”

Blumenthal said the congregation, with about 13 families, typically has 15 people for monthly Friday night services. “They were much larger at one time, but they do have a temple,” she said.

Between the time she was laid off and now, Blumenthal had been working with Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh, officiating High Holiday services at Temple B’nai Abraham in Decatur, Ill., which has a congregation of 43 families. Blumenthal said she “has grown to love the people in Decatur” and “will miss working with Rabbi Hersh,” but “I can’t be in two places at once and since (Benton) is a regular position, with once a month services and High Holy days, I will be with them. I am sure I will come to love them, too.”

Blumenthal had been a member of Temple Israel since 1978 and was appointed its full-time cantor in 1996. At the time of her layoff, she was told the decision had nothing to do with her work, but was because the congregation was in dire financial straits. The synagogue also laid off a receptionist and part-time employee.

“I can’t deny that it was devastating to me,” said Blumenthal, referring to the layoff. “It wasn’t just a job but my home and my children’s home.”

Blumenthal says that while she would like to be busier, she continues to do “all the things I would do if I were employed full-time by a synagogue” such as b’nai mitzvah tutoring and all Jewish lifecycle events.

“Things are starting to pick up now,” she added. “I’m trying to be very positive about it all.”


Ran across a useful website at, which makes it easy to find the latest Jewish mobile applications. New ones are added daily in categories such as Art, Audio, Chassidut, Food, Games, Hebrew, Holidays, Kabbalah, Midrash, Made in Israel, Organizations, Prayers, Talmud, Travel and Yiddish, just to mention a few.

Earlier this week the website posted a new iPhone/iPad app called Torah Notebook, which creates and manages Torah content on the go. Torah Notebook includes a collection of more than 1,200 ready-to-use divrei Torah, drawn from both classical and modern sources. Selections can be tagged, edited and printed.

The site also features product reviews, troubleshooting help, updates and links to new apps, along with the latest media and technological news.