Book Reviews by Norene Gilletz  
The Holocaust Survivor Cookbook -
recipes seasoned with bittersweet memories

Book Review by Norene Gilletz

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I first heard about The Holocaust Survivor Cookbook, an unforgettable cookbook filled with memories of survival along with treasured family recipes, from my friend Dalia Carmel of New York, when I called her to say hello a few weeks ago and give her regards from a friend. Dalia explained, "Although the recipes are not thoroughly edited like in most cookbooks, this is a very important book and it deserves to be on cookbook shelves everywhere. You need to let people know about it."

I then contacted Joanne Caras of Port St. Lucie, FL who has worked tirelessly over the past two years to collect recipes and stories from Holocaust Survivors. Joanne told me, "We asked Holocaust Survivors to send us their favorite recipe, photos, and also the story of how they were able to survive the Holocaust. We collected 129 stories from all over the world, including Europe, South America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Israel, and many US states. Each one is a miracle!"

The Holocaust Survivors Cookbook

"In the introduction to our cookbook we ask each person who cooks one of the recipes to also read to their family the story that comes with it. That way, not only will we preserve the recipes, but more importantly we will help to insure that the stories of these brave Survivors will live on for generations to come."

Most typical cookbooks are organized into sections - appetizers, salads, soups, main courses, side dishes and desserts. The Holocaust Survivor Cookbook was compiled quite differently. Since many of the Survivors submitted more than one recipe, the recipes were kept together, so you may find one page with a soup and a dessert recipe side by side. To make it easy locate recipes, there is a Recipe Index at the beginning of the book where you will find the recipes listed by categories and page numbers, including the contributors.

There is also a complete list of Survivors and their stories. If you recognize a Survivor or their family and would like to get in touch with them, please contact survivorcookbook@aol.com and they will pass on your name to the survivor family.

Proceeds from every cookbook sold will benefit Carmei Ha'ir in Jerusalem, the Soup Kitchen where Joanne's son and daughter-in-law volunteer, serving over 500 meals each day to poor and hungry Israelis. Those who can afford to pay do so and those who cannot afford it, don't. The money is collected after meals in a tzedakeh box near the door.

"Our goal is to raise $1 million for Carmei Ha'ir, and millions more for Jewish groups all over the world", Joanne said. "In total we would like to raise $6 million as a tribute to the memory of those Jews who did not survive the Holocaust."

"Right now the demand is so overwhelming that we had to order more cookbooks from our printer." Joanne said. "We are in our second printing and have shipped cookbooks from Florida to Canada, New York to California, and all over the world. We have touched the hearts of thousands of people."

The Holocaust Survivor Cookbook can be ordered at the retail price for personal use or as gifts, or can be purchased in large quantities at wholesale prices by groups who want to use the books as a fundraiser. Go to their website at www.survivorcookbook.org or contact Joanne Caras at 443-604-2643.

Please note: These are family recipes, in many cases handed down through several generations. They are written as they were received and have not been “tested” as many cookbooks do. Many are lacking in details that would help in the preparation of food, others suggest several variations on the basic recipe, and others are very detailed. Try them, accept them as they are, modify them or use them as a starting point to let your imagination go. Remember the history they contain.

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BARBARA SCHECHTER COHEN
Bloomfield, MI

I was born in Bukaczowce, a small village SW of Krakow, Poland in Sept. 1941. My father was a lawyer, born in Krakow with a family of six sisters, my mother a bookkeeper from Stanislavov with a family of three sisters and one brother. As conditions became more and more oppressive, we went into hiding. A Polish farmer hid us for a short time, but it was getting too dangerous for him and his family, and we were told to leave.

My father was able to get forged papers stating that we were Polish Christians. Philip and Jean Schachter were now Philip and Jean Rogalska and their Barbara, or Basha, as I was called. My parents decided to separate, so that it would be easier to travel and move more freely. My father was able to get work in a Polish labor camp, but my mother was frantic not knowing where to go or what to do, with a little baby. She was planning to go back to her hometown to be with her parents, but that would have probably meant death for us.

As luck would have it she stood by the church in the village square where she was told Germans were looking for farm laborers. She had blond hair and blue eyes, and spoke fluent German and when the truck came by with bullhorns screeching that volunteers were needed, we were taken to Germany.

My mother was given heavy farm work to do, but she was unable to take care of me properly, as a baby needs constant attention. A German woman offered to take care of me. She was a single woman and wanted a child of her own. I was well taken care of, dressed and fed well. There was even a dog for me to play with. I was taken to church regularly and knew all the psalms in perfect German. Little by little my mother’s visiting privileges were taken away and I was getting used to this new mother...calling her “muti.” My biological mother begged to see me one more time to take me for a little walk and it was then that she simply ran away with me...I was crying for my “muti,” my German mother.

Now it was near the end of the war and we were on the road with many other refugees. Again, we survived a very close call. We were nearly killed in the bombing of Dresden, by our very own American planes. We finally ended up in Stuttgart in a DP camp. My father found us by some miracle with the help of the Red Cross. The American Joint Distribution Committee, HIAS, another agency and a distant relative in NY helped us come to the US. We were on the very first ship of refugees after the war, the Marine Flesher in May of 1946. My father’s five sisters survived the camps, but all of my mother’s family was murdered.

Living in the US was not easy. We lived in Brooklyn, in the tenements, five-story walk-up, no elevator. My parents worked in the sweatshops, doing piecework. We were very poor, but my parents were very grateful to be in this country, and their faith in G-d was not diminished. They associated with other “greeners” meaning other refugees like themselves and did not mingle with other people. We moved to Detroit with the help of friends when I was eleven.

The Holocaust has permeated my whole life. When I was growing up, I wanted to block it out, and just assimilate into my environment, and just live a “Normal” life. Now that I am older and my parents are gone, I feel as if I have a mission to speak of it, to honor my parent’s memory, to honor the Righteous among the Nations. The Jews and non-Jews who risked their lives to save ours gives me hope that there is yet some goodness in the world. I want to pass on the legacy of remembrance to my children and grandchildren so that they should never forget where they came from and their history of the Shoah.

That they should value their freedoms, the Bill of Rights, the constitution, and most importantly to vote. To be aware of bigotry and prejudice, to analyze the media, and propaganda, to speak out against intolerance.

PIQUANT MEAT BALLS (Meat)

Thank you for the wonderful idea of a Survivor cookbook. The recipe is a sweet and sour taste; like life, there is sweetness, and bitterness...let us pray for the sweet!

2 lbs ground beef
1 egg
2 tbsp bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
Pepper
12 ounce bottle of chili sauce
6 ounces grape jelly
Juice of 1 lemon

1. Combine meat, egg, bread crumbs and seasonings.

2. Shape into balls the size of a walnut.

3. Heat chili sauce, jelly and lemon juice in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven until blended.

4. Add the meat balls, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

5. Uncover and cook 15 minutes longer, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

Serves 8 to 10

MANDARIN ORANGE SALAD (Parve)

1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp orange juice
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 bag mixed salad greens
1 cup mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup seedless red grapes, cut up

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake almonds 7 to 9 minutes. 

2. Combine all liquid ingredients except oil and whisk. Add oil slowly while whisking. Toss together with salad greens, oranges and grapes just before serving.

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CAROL WILNER
Columbia, MD.

I am a child survivor of the Holocaust - a hidden child who survived an impossible situation. I was born in Boryslav, Poland (the Ukraine then) in 1941. It was a time of turmoil and uncertainty. Children, old and weak were taken away to die. I escaped because of the courage, cooperation and incredible sacrifice of a number of people who made a commitment to try and save me.

The town where I was born was made into a slave concentration camp where only the strongest and fittest were allowed to remain. My father, who had studied in Vienna and was fluent in German, became a interpreter for the Germans. My mother dug ditches.

At first we lived outside the camp, but it became increasingly dangerous. Every day Jews were gathered up and sent to death camps. When I was 18 months old it became evident that I could no longer survive on the outside so I was smuggled into the camp where my father's friends built a secret crawl space for me.

I remained hidden from the time I was 18 months until I was four. I was not allowed to cry, and I remained hidden by myself for endless hours until someone could come down to check on me. At night I was taken down to be with my mother. I never smelled fresh air or felt the sun, and was not able to examine the world the way babies du. I am often asked, and I ask myself, how it was possible for a toddler to survive such confines and to understand that crying meant death. Somehow I understood, and under impossible conditions I remained hidden.

My mother had a baby boy who was not so lucky. He was born in the camp and he was taken away to die on the day he was born because it was impossible to hide two children. My mother had to make the choice.

When I was four we were liberated by the Russians and we lived in Poland for another two years. The conditions were terrible so my father decided to take the risk and have us smuggled over the border into Czechoslovakia, Austria, and finally into a displaced person's camp run by Americans in Germany. We took nothing with us but the clothes on our backs and whatever money my father had been able to save. The three week journey was difficult, arduous, and dangerous. Most of the survivors in the camp were preparing to go to Palestine. Like us, they had lost everything, but when Palestine became Israel it became their refuge and dream.

But then, through the Red Cross, my father managed to find his nephew and niece who survived and come to America. They sent us papers, and we made the decision to come to America rather than Israel. We arrived in August, 1949 when I was 8 years old. 

CHAKCHOOKA (Pareve)
This dish goes well as a side dish with lamb or broiled fish, or by itself over rice, or cold with Pita bread.

1 large eggplant
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion
1/2 green pepper
1/2 red pepper
1/2 yellow pepper
6 tbsp olive oil
1 small can chickpeas (reserve some of the liquid)
2 lemons
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric

Wash and dry eggplant. It's best prepared whole on a grill, turning often until skin is charred and pulp tender so that it has a smoky flavor. However you can also prick the eggplant on all sides with a fork, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for an hour at 400 degrees F. Remove eggplant when done and scoop out pulp. Mash in a bowl or food processor, but make sure you retain some body and texture. DO NOT mince.

Add minced garlic cloves, mix well, let stand. 

Dice onions and peppers and saute in olive oil until tender. Add eggplant mixture and chickpeas with some of the liquid. Add lemon juice of 1 1/2 lemons.

Add seasoning, mix well and cover. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes.

Add more seasoning if you want it spicier. Keep tasting.

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LILLIAN BERLINER
Beechhurst, NY

My name is Lillian Berliner and I was deported with my family from Hungary in 1944. My mother and I survived Auschwitz, labor camp in Bremen and Bergen Belzen. We were liberated by the British troops on April 15, 1945. Most of my family was deported from Hungary and the majority perished in the Auschwitz gas chambers. Miraculously, my mother (in her early 40's) and I (a teenager) survived Auschwitz, Bremen and Bergen-Belsen together. We were never separated.

We were starved in Auschwitz and to alleviate our numerous hunger pangs, we invented frequent "dream meals" ranging between coffee klatches, luncheons, informal and formal dinner parties.

We planned our menus carefully for hours and in great detail. Our favorite dishes and desserts took priority and were frequently repeated. The table settings, the color of dishes, tablecloths, napkins, flowers for each occasion and the seating arrangements were also discussed.

This may sound delusional I know, but during these meal planning sessions, we were briefly transported to a normal world, a world that was so far from our miserable reality. We actually tasted the dishes we prepared and our hunger pangs disappeared during the hours of planning. We could hardly wait for the next planning session.

There was no need or time to plan "dream meals" in Bremen (labor camp) thanks to the kindness of an old, Danish retired seaman, who gave us his daily sandwich and to a French prisoner of war, who shared his Red Cross packages with us. In Bergen-Belsen, we were too sick and weak to even dream.

The two recipes I have included, one for an appetizer and one for dessert, were always on our menus and were native to my home-town of Kolosvar (also known as Cluj), Hungary, on the Romanian border in Transylvania.

LIPTAUER - CHEESE SPREAD (Dairy)
8 oz. whipped cream cheese
4 oz. margarine
1 1/2 tbsp minced onion
2 squirts anchovy paste (not too much since very salty)
paprika - to redden the spread

Mix well. Refrigerate. Serve with crackers or bread. 

PALACSINTA (CREPES) (Dairy)
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup milk
1 tsp. sugar
pinch of salt
1 cup club soda
Margarine or butter (for cooking the crepes)

Mix eggs, flour, milk, sugar and salt. Make a smooth pancake dough. Let dough rest for 1 to 2 hours. Stir in club soda at the last moment, just before cooking the pancakes.

Heat an eight inch frying pan. When the pan is hot, add 1/4 tbsp. margarine or butter. Let it melt and cover the bottom of the pan. Pour a ladle of the batter into the pan. Gently tipping and twisting, spread batter so it covers the whole pan. When the top bubbles, turn the pancake over and cook for another 4 to 5 seconds. Remove the cooked pancake into a large plate. 

Fillings for Pancake: Apricot jam or Farmer cheese mixed with an egg yolk, sugar and raisin mixture. Roll the filled pancake and then fry lightly to heat before serving. 

To order The Holocaust Survivor Cookbook, visit www.survivorcookbook.org

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