For the members of Temple Beth Tefilloh in Brunswick, their heritage is a proud one. The Jewish congregation has been part of the local landscape since 1886, and members have shared various parts of their rich tradition over the years.
While it has certainly left a mark on the local faith community, the synagogue has also shared other elements of its culture — namely, food. From latkes to gefilte fish, the Jewish community has a distinctive list of menu items that are served for various occasions throughout the year.
In fact, the temple members have even designed an annual event where they can showcase this aspect of their heritage in one place — the Jewish Food Festival. This year, it is slated for noon to 3:30 p.m. March 24 in Jekyll Square on Newcastle St., in downtown Brunswick.
Various vendors will be on hand to share a number of delicacies and traditional fare. There will also be a Jewish wedding with explanations, as well as entertainment, provided by a klemzer band.
For Rande Simpson, festival coordinator, it is a time for the community to take a peek into the world of Jewish culture, while having a lot of fun.
“It is a great time. There aren’t any Jewish delis around here so people really are not familiar with Jewish ethnic food which is just so yummy. I think we might have invented comfort food,” she said.
“This is our fifth year of the festival. We started it as a way to raise money for the restoration of our temple which was built in the 1880s and needs much repair and TLC.”
Admission is free but food tickets are $1 each. Funds will continue to go toward temple maintenance. Tastings cost between four and eight tickets per item. There will also be $10 raffle tickets that will go toward the cause. Simpson is looking forward to the event again and hopes to see even more people come out to sample the tasty selections.
“It is mainly about the food, and we have Kate Buchanan, former owner of Cargo and Indigo, coming back to make felafel which was a huge hit two years ago. And Tanya at A Moveable Feast is making flatbread and hummus. We have knishes coming down from a chef in North Carolina,” she said. “Temple members prepare matzoh ball soup, kugels (a noodle dish), Israeli salad. Plus we have pastrami sandwiches, kosher hotdogs and baked goods.”
One of those serving up one of her celebrated dishes is Sue Glazer. In fact, she will be making literally hundreds of matzoh balls for the event, even more than in previous years.
“I usually make 300 matzoh balls for the Jewish Festival each year. This year I will probably be making 400, as the requests are getting higher,” Glaser said.
And what better place to enjoy the doughy goodness than in a bowl of hearty, matzoh ball soup. Glazer generously offers to share her version, one that’s been highly touted by friends and family, as well as the meaning behind the tradition.
“ Much of the Jewish food is deeply symbolic. The matzoh represents the unleavened bread the Jewish people ate while fleeing Egypt. Matzoh meal is made from crushed matzoh,” she said.
1 box matzo meal (Manischewitz). Two packages come in a box, each makes about 10 matzoh balls.
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 tablespoon from chicken soup.
Blend eggs (beat eggs until foamy), add vegetable oil and tablespoon chicken soup and one package of matzoh meal. Mix by hand
Place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Take out and make one tablespoon full of mix into a ball. Place all 10 at one time in boiling water. Cook about 20 minutes. When done, place in the chicken soup.
Boil 5 quarts of water. Place 4 bouillon chicken cubes in water with cut up chicken, about 2 packages of cut up chicken. Boil chicken for two hours until it falls apart. Take out of soup, debone chicken and put back in pot. You can add cut up carrots, parsnips, celery and one valdalia onion. Simmer on low about 2 hours to cook the carrots, parsnips, celery and onion. When cooked, add cooked matzoh balls.