Food, Hope & Resilience: Authen­tic Recipes and Remark­able Sto­ries from Holo­caust Survivors

  • Review
By – April 22, 2024

Some­times we leaf through cook­books for din­ner ideas, and some­times we actu­al­ly read them because we want to learn some­thing, to be inspired. June Hersh’s new cook­book does this and more. Here, in the revised edi­tion of her 2013 book, Recipes Remem­bered: a Cel­e­bra­tion of Sur­vival, Hersh weaves sto­ries and recipes from Holo­caust sur­vivors with recipes from notable culi­nary icons of today — all of which con­nect us to each oth­er, to our his­to­ry, and, ulti­mate­ly, to our shared human­i­ty. The book could not be more time­ly; it nour­ish­es us both phys­i­cal­ly and spiritually. 

Food, Hope and Resilience is divid­ed into sec­tions by coun­try, with recipes and sto­ries ger­mane to each locale. For exam­ple, clas­sic Roman­ian dish­es are paired with Roman­ian sur­vivor sto­ries. While the first five sec­tions focus pre­dom­i­nant­ly on Cen­tral and East­ern Europe, the final sec­tion intro­duces the Sephardic world with recipes and sto­ries of Greek survivors.

These grip­ping sto­ries, as told by the sur­vivors them­selves or some­times by their chil­dren, range wide­ly. They describe scenes of life before every­thing fell apart, as well as dar­ing escapes and moments of hope and resilience. Some of the most com­pelling sto­ries are the least expect­ed, such as a recipe for arroz con pol­lo from Ruth Kohn, whose fam­i­ly board­ed the last train out of Ger­many, ulti­mate­ly arriv­ing in the Domini­can Republic.

Icon­ic Ashke­nazi foods fill the pages — such as chal­lah, gefilte fish, roast chick­en with veg­eta­bles, and blintzes — and are com­ple­ment­ed by dish­es from across the Dias­po­ra. Hersh con­cludes each sto­ry with a poignant list of the num­ber of chil­dren and descen­dants a sur­vivor had. As one sur­vivor sto­ry notes, “ … three chil­dren, ten grand­chil­dren and three great grand­chil­dren.” L’dor v’dor: from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, their mem­o­ries and their food remain with us.

Dr. Beth Rica­nati is a physi­cian, speak­er and the author of Braid­ed: A Jour­ney of a Thou­sand Chal­lahs, a final­ist for the Nation­al Jew­ish Book Award. 

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