Holo­caust Sur­vivor Cookbook

Joanne Caras, ed.
  • Review
By – December 22, 2011

The Holo­caust Sur­vivor Cook­book is a spi­ral-bound, self-pub­lished fund-rais­ing project for the Carmei Ha’ir Soup Kitchen in Jerusalem. In only four years, this cook­book has raised thou­sands of dol­lars to feed hun­gry Israelis. Unlike oth­er fundrais­ing cook­books, though, the recipes are not the focus of this com­pi­la­tion. Instead, they are more like foot­notes to the sto­ries accom­pa­ny­ing them. This cook­book con­tains the per­son­al tes­ti­monies of more than one hun­dred Holo­caust sur­vivors, and memo­ri­al­iz­ing their sto­ries is the pri­ma­ry pur­pose of this book. 

The first per­son nar­ra­tives are unedit­ed and raw, touch­ing and hon­est. Some are mere­ly a few lines long; oth­ers span pages. Each sto­ry is accom­pa­nied by one or more recipes sub­mit­ted by the sur­vivor. They range from dish­es that the writer remem­bered from child­hood to cur­rent kitchen favorites. None has been test­ed for accu­ra­cy because the recipe itself is sec­ondary to the testament. 

Per­haps the most sig­nif­i­cant direc­tion, though, comes from the edi­tors, who explain how to use this cook­book: “[H]ere is the most impor­tant thing you can do. When­ev­er you serve a recipe from this cook­book to your fam­i­ly please be sure to read them the sto­ry of the sur­vivor that goes with the recipe…By doing this, you will keep both the recipes and the sto­ries alive for gen­er­a­tions to come.” For that rea­son alone, this cook­book is a wor­thy addi­tion to any collection. 

Miri­am Bauer is an attor­ney and for­mer legal writ­ing direc­tor at DePaul Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege of Law. She lives in Chicago.

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