Recipes Remem­bered: A Cel­e­bra­tion of Survival

June Feiss Hersh
  • Review
By – May 13, 2013

Recipes Remem­bered is far more than a cook­book. The pho­to­graph on the cov­er — a Star of David cut­ting into cook­ie dough — imme­di­ate­ly brings to mind the painful sym­bol of the yel­low Jew­ish star worn by those caught in the Holo­caust. Here are the remark­able sto­ries of Holo­caust sur­vivors, along with their authen­tic recipes. June Feiss Hersh, a retired teacher, pas­sion­ate cook, culi­nary colum­nist, blog­ger, and food archivist, writes that the book reflects her pas­sion for want­i­ng to remem­ber, pre­serve, and pass on a world gone by. Hersh is for­ev­er hum­bled and hon­ored to share” this world. The recipes were test­ed and retest­ed, for she ful­ly under­stands that many of the cooks pre­pared these foods from mem­o­ry and instinct. She admits that there were recipes that the sur­vivors could not recre­ate, and she wise­ly called upon pro­fes­sion­als, many of them famous, to com­ple­ment the rec­ol­lec­tions. The pro­fes­sion­al con­trib­u­tors add their take” on those for­got­ten scents and savors, thus round­ing out the memories. 

Chap­ters are arranged by coun­try of ori­gin: Poland, Aus­tria and Ger­many, Bel­gium and France, Hun­gary and Czecho­slo­va­kia, Roma­nia, Rus­sia and the Ukraine. There are also Mediter­ranean dish­es, some with a pro­found Greek influ­ence. All are poignant reminders of the are­nas so con­nect­ed to that trag­ic point of our his­to­ry. It is impor­tant to bring the recipes into your kitchen, to be remind­ed of our his­tor­i­cal past.

Jolie Feld­man is the grand­daugh­ter of Ada Ehrlich Rubin and Leo Rubin. As she shares their sto­ry we learn that the recipe for Ada Ehrlich’s Choco­late Chip Cake” was inter­pret­ed from hand­writ­ten notes that Ada wrote in her lat­er years.” Ada was a sur­vivor of Auschwitz. 

The sec­tion titled Arti­facts,” with pho­tos most­ly from the col­lec­tion of the Muse­um of Jew­ish Her­itage — A Liv­ing Memo­r­i­al to the Holo­caust, includes a bowl from Ger­many used to hold salt water at the Passover seder, a wood­en spoon from Bergen-Belsen, a large spoon from Auschwitz, a recipe book for salt­ed her­ring from Ger­many, and oth­er extra­or­di­nary objects. 

Reni Hanau’s Waf­feln-Waf­fles” enhance our enjoy­ment through her mem­o­ry of her mom’s cook­ing, which trav­eled with her from Ger­many to Eng­land and on to Amer­i­ca. The recipe can also be made as pan­cakes. Reni’s father was a teacher and the shochet (butch­er) in his small town in Ger­many. Shar­ing her mem­o­ries, Reni declares, is like bring­ing a part of their old life into their new life.”

There is a sec­tion which helps the read­er-cook delve into bak­ing instruc­tions and uten­sils, ingre­di­ents, and equip­ment for the kitchen, as well as a glos­sary and index. Use this book well, get to know the sur­vivors through their words, and learn to bless each day. 

Danièle Gor­lin Lass­ner (wife, moth­er, grand­moth­er) retired after 35 years at Ramaz where she served as Dean of Admis­sions, For­eign Lan­guage Depart­ment chair and teacher of French and Span­ish. She owns hun­dreds of cook­books. She has trans­lat­ed sev­er­al chil­dren’s books from French into Eng­lish. She has recent­ly trans­lat­ed “ A Mem­oir of Sanc­ti­ty “ by May­er Moskowitz (Mazo Pub­lish­ers, Jerusalem, Israel) from Hebrew into Eng­lish. No mat­ter the lan­guage, food is a con­stant.”

Discussion Questions