Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Jews and the Second World War: A Reading List

gwen-edelmanI started reading about the fate of the Jews during the Second World War when I was eleven. No one I knew ever mentioned the subject, but I just became obsessed and have continued to read about it ever since.

One reading experience I particularly remember is “Fragments” by Benjamin Wilkomirski. Because I had already read so many memoirs by Jews about their experiences during the war, I immediately thought something was wrong. All the memoirs I had read before were characterized by very clear recall of details, but this memoir instead was vague and floating. While I thought it was a good book, something just didn’t ring true.  Offering him the benefit of the doubt, I reminded myself that Wilkomirski was only two years old during the Holocaust and that his memories might be floating in gauze like this because of his young age. I had never read a memoir by someone that young. But, as you probably know, it turned out he had invented the whole thing. Unfortunately, I was not surprised at all. Rather, I was only surprised that he had not called it a novel. And a very good and imaginative one, too.

Here is a list of ten books which are, for me, some of the most powerful and most meaningful books concerning (in most, but not all cases) the fate of the Jews during The Second World War:

Into That Darkness by Gitta Sereny
A portrait of Franz Stangel, commandant of Treblinka, based on extensive interviews by one of the outstanding journalists of our time.

Kaputt: A Novel by Curzio Malaparte
A stingingly irreverent, cruel, and brilliant look at the war in some of the places where Malaparte, a diplomat, spent those years: Russia, Poland, Finland, Romania.

The Skin: A Novel by Curzio Malaparte
The tragic and corrupt carnival of life in Naples from 1943 until the end of the war.

Life and Fate: A Novel by Vasily Grossman
An extraordinary and epic novel with a huge cast of Russian and German characters centered around the battle of Stalingrad. One of the
great novels of the twentieth century.

The General of the Dead Army: A Novel by Ismail Kadare
A brilliant novel by one of the greatest contemporary writers. Set in Albania 20 years after the war, the story follows an Italian general and an Italian priest to Albania where they are to retrieve and repatriate the bones of Italian soldiers who died during the Italian occupation of Albania.

Mr. Sammler’s Planet: A Novel by Saul Bellow
Far-ranging meditations by a Holocaust survivor now living in New York.

History: A Novel by Elsa Morante
One afternoon in 1941 in Rome, an Italian woman is raped by a German soldier and gives birth to a boy. The story of this strange boy and his older brother in wartime Rome, and the woman’s determination that her two boys survive is the drama of ordinary people caught up in a horrific war with which they they had nothing to do.

The Periodic Table by Primo Levi
In which Levi, himself a chemist, discovers that a German chemist with whom he has been corresponding and with whom he has placed an order, had been the chief of a laboratory in Auschwitz where Levi himself had been a prisoner.

The Holocaust Kingdom by Alexander Donat 
One of the best non-fiction accounts of day-to-day existence during the Holocaust. Donat and his wife and child were in the Warsaw Ghetto. He and his wife were later deported to nine different death camps.

Words To Outlive Us: Eyewitness Accounts from the Warsaw Ghetto edited by Michal Grynberg
A collective memoir by many voices of experiences of the Warsaw Ghetto. Extremely powerful and immediate accounts.

The Visiting Scribes series was produced by the Jewish Book Council‘s blog, The Prosen People.

The Jewish world is full of debates. Get the latest in MyJewishLearning’s weekly blogs newsletter.

Posted on April 28, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Changing Times, Changing Letters, and Moving Forward

a-bintel-briefAbraham Cahan loved Yiddish, but he was not afraid of change. He urged his readers to be less religious, and to learn how to be Americans. While other Yiddish newspapers refused to print Americanized Yiddish, Cahan’sForward welcomed the English words that found their way into Yiddish—vinda (window), boychik (boy).

The early Bintel Brief letters are timeless and could have been written anywhere, by anyone who had left his old life behind and traveled across the ocean to a new world. To read them is to get to the essence of things. The later Bintel Brief letters, on the other hand, are bitter. As the Forward’s readership aged and dwindled, the letters were more often written by older people, no longer new to America. They were the last bastions of the Yiddish language, watching sadly as their children grew up, went to college, made money, and became ashamed of their parents. ‘Dear Mr. Editor,’ people would write, ‘Our children have a Christmas tree;’ ‘Our children don’t keep kosher;’ ‘Our children don’t want us to read a Yiddish newspaper in public. It embarrasses them.’

If the early Bintel Brief letters make me feel connected to my great-grandparents and to my past, the later letters hold an uneasy mirror up to my newfound nostalgia. To me, the letters embodied a bitter-sweet kind of longing for my own culture, and homesickness for my own city. Not many people speak Yiddish anymore—a loss that is too big to fathom; our culture lived in that language, more than in any place.

While I worked on my book, I felt like I was writing my own Bintel Brief letter to Abraham Cahan: “Where are the Jews I can relate to,” I asked. “Where is the old, scrappy New York, the New York that corresponds to my intense, worried, immigrant’s soul?”

How did Cahan answer the late Bintel Brief letters? He didn’t.

Not one for sentimentality, he handed off the role of advice columnist to a staff-member at the Forward, occupying himself with more interesting matters, such as writing a great American novel, eating schav (a green soup), and taking up bird watching. If Cahan were alive now, I don’t think he’d have been the editor of a Yiddish newspaper. He’d be one step ahead of the rest of us, finding the new zeitgeist before we knew it existed. I love the past, and long for it, and seek it always. But Cahan’s spirit is not in the past. It is here. It is now. It does many good things in the world, including teaching nostalgic misfits like me to understand that we do belong in the here and the now.

The Visiting Scribes series was produced by the Jewish Book Council‘s blog, The Prosen People.

The Jewish world is full of debates. Get the latest in MyJewishLearning’s weekly blogs newsletter.

Posted on April 25, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

A Ghetto in the Middle of a City

warsaw-ghetto-mapCentral Park, in the middle of the city of New York, is 843 acres. The Warsaw Ghetto, in the middle of the city of Warsaw, was 832 acres.

One day you are walking down Fifth Avenue. You see stone masons slathering mortar on red bricks. A wall is going up. Around Central Park? How strange. There’s never been a wall around Central Park before. You ask one of the masons why they’re building a wall. He shrugs. He’s been told to build it. That’s all. He doesn’t know what it’s for. Another mason nearby says the same. What could it be for? To keep whom in and whom out? It’s all exceedingly strange.

This has not happened in New York City. But it did happen in Warsaw in November of 1940. From one day to the next, a six foot high red brick wall began to go up around the poorest part of the city. Several weeks later, signs appeared all over Warsaw. Jews were to move to the enclosed space behind the walls within two weeks, under pain of death. Jews from all walks of life were suddenly uprooted and forced to move to the poorest, most dilapidated part of town. In the space of a few weeks, they had to find an apartment, pack up all their worldly belongings on carts and wagons, and move into their new quarters where they found themselves squeezed into tenement apartments with other families. In the beginning there were visitors. Non-Jews going to say goodbye to friends, relatives, employers…

Soon the pieces of the mysterious walls were connected. There were twenty-three gates with armed guards at each one. And then the gates closed. In the middle of the city, a new universe came into being, shut off from the old. Inside there was no food. Because the caloric allotment for Jews was 86 calories a day, the smuggling between the two sides of the wall began immediately. The guards were paid off, the Poles on the “Aryan side” were paid. And the business of surviving began.

There are no apartment buildings and no streets in Central Park. But imagine that there were. Imagine that inside Central Park, there are only Jews. Invisible behind the walls. The life of the city goes on all around the walls. And inside? What is happening? You are walking down Fifth Avenue near the six foot high wall. As you pass one of the gates, you see Jewish laborers being marched out to work outside the ghetto. From your side of the wall you can see them throwing food and goods over the wall. You can see them burrowing through holes that have been carved out beneath the wall and in the middle of the wall. The smuggling is never ending—both from the ghetto side and the “Aryan side.” Bags of kasha and potatoes and sugar are thrown into the ghetto. Leather goods and textiles are thrown back. Contraband is brought through the gates in wagons or by smugglers, many of them children.

You can see them shooting Jews at the gate, shooting at Jews attempting to scale the wall. From inside you hear gunshots, shouts, screams. A reign of terror. And you can hear it, you can smell it. Another universe is in motion. The shooting, the screaming, the stench of blood and filth and corpses. The starvation. The trains that leave several times a day packed with Jews headed for Treblinka… On the other side of the wall, there’s a war going on. It’s not exactly peacetime outside the ghetto. But this is another world. It’s not far away, it’s not on the outskirts of town. It’s a walled kingdom of death right in the midst of the city.

This wasn’t Central Park, of course. This was Warsaw in 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943…

You cannot be oblivious to what’s going on inside those walls. Or can you?

The Visiting Scribes series was produced by the Jewish Book Council‘s blog, The Prosen People.

The Jewish world is full of debates. Get the latest in MyJewishLearning’s weekly blogs newsletter.

Posted on April 25, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Finding a Story to Tell

a-bintel-briefI did not mean to fall in love with the Bintel Brief letters. I grew up Jewish in the New York suburbs and defined myself by what the Jewish suburbs were not—I was an odd, shy kid who loved animals and nature and who drew, and I felt like an alien among the mall rats. (At least, that is how I remember things.) I escaped as soon as I could, to art college in New York, in search of ‘my people’—artists and writers—and art, and books. I knew before I graduated that I wanted to make graphic novels, but it didn’t matter to me what story I told. The medium was the message. After college, I went to Belgium on a Fulbright grant. I had wanted to get away from everyone I knew; I still felt more comfortable with art and books than with people. I sensed that the sooner I made a book of my own, the sooner I would feel that I had a reason to exist; and I believed that the fastest way to create that book would be in a kind of social vacuum. But I sunk under the weight of the graphic novel I was trying to work on (which was to be about a comics artist’s tortured friendship with a fine artist); I was frustrated by what I later realized was a lack of fluency in the craft of comics-making. Mid-way into my year abroad, my grandmother sent me the first half of Isaak Metzker’s two-volume collection of Bintel Briefletters translated into English—A Bintel Brief: Sixty Years of Letters from the Lower East Side to the Jewish Daily Forward (Doubleday, 1971).

Reading the collection of Bintel Brief letters was the most urgent thing that happened to me that year. I hadn’t brought any English books to Brussels because I wanted to force myself to learn French; so the book was rare and precious, like a relic from my lost civilization. When I started reading, the letters reminded me why I wanted to make a book in the first place. They made me cry. I also began to relate to the letter-writers—who had left home in search of a new life, and landed in New York. Then, with a shock, I realized that the letter-writers could have been my great-grandparents. I’d set out on a journey looking for a treasure, only to find it buried deep down under my own doorstep. When I got home from Belgium, I chose some of the Bintel Brief letters from Metzker’s book—and some other, untranslated letters from microfilm copies of The Forward—and began adapting them into a graphic novel. I still wrestled with my medium, but less. It was easier because I had a story to tell.

The Visiting Scribes series was produced by the Jewish Book Council‘s blog, The Prosen People.

The Jewish world is full of debates. Get the latest in MyJewishLearning’s weekly blogs newsletter.

Posted on April 24, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

In My Characters’ Shoes

the-train-to-warsawOne September afternoon I took the train from Berlin to Warsaw, as my characters had done. I wanted to see what they had seen. For the five and a half hours of that train ride I saw nothing but endless miles of birches, pines, fields… It was a warm and sunny day. The blue sky was cloudless. The sunlight glinted on the fields and stippled the birches with light. For my novel The Train to Warsaw, I would have to imagine those same birches and pines and fields in the dead of winter, coat them with snow and frost and turn the sky white.

I had an appointment to meet a journalist from one of the major Warsaw newspapers. He had suggested we meet in a tiny park near Gryzbowska St., a street that had once been inside the ghetto. And so I set off from my hotel to meet him.

There is nothing left of the former ghetto. In the more than 800 acres that once encompassed the ghetto, white Soviet realist style apartment buildings now cover block after block. Of the apartment buildings, the shops, the synagogues from before the war (with the exception of the Nozyk Synagogue), nothing remains. On one block several red brick buildings from before the war are still standing; in the courtyard of an apartment building a piece of the red brick ghetto wall still exists. One or two other buildings are still there. But that is all. The ghetto was burned to the ground by the Nazis during the Ghetto Uprising of April 1943.

And of the former life that once hummed in this corner of the earth, nothing remains.

The journalist and I sat down on a small stone bench. Scattered around the pocket park, several mothers sat rocking baby carriages beneath a sunny sky. There was no one else. The journalist and I talked quietly. All of a sudden I heard, coming from the left, the tramping of boots on cobblestone. The sound grew louder. Five SS men in uniform, smoking, armed, came into view. They didn’t look like extras in a film; in fact there were no cameras or crew anywhere. The uniforms looked lived-in, the boots were creased with wear. I thought I was hallucinating. I had done so much research on the Warsaw Ghetto that I had begun to see visions. I turned to the journalist. Are those SS men? I asked, incredulous. Absolutely, he replied.

Now I heard the tramping of boots coming from the right. I turned my head and saw a straggling group of partisans coming toward us, walking single file. One had his head bandaged, all wore outfits that were ragged and torn. One had a bloodied shirt sleeve, all had tin cups attached to their belts. They too were armed. The Polish Home Army? I whispered. Absolutely, he informed me. An SS man had placed a straw basket on the ground. Backs bent, a look of resignation on their faces, each one came up to the SS man and dropped his weapon in the basket.The last man shook the hand of the SS man, who dropped his cigarette and ground it out with the toe of his leather boot. They turned and walked off.

What just happened? I asked the journalist. The Polish Home Army has just surrendered to the SS, he informed me. What? I asked in disbelief. Every year on the same date, in the same place, at the same time, the Polish Home Army surrenders to the SS. But why? I asked. Why in the world would they re-enact their surrender of all things? He shrugged. He had no answer.

This part of town was so quiet now, the streets nearly deserted. Once there had been an ungodly din here. Crowds of up to 500,000 individuals surging through the streets, a madhouse swarming with people, the pavement and streets clogged with the dying and dead. Then there had been no peace, only terror. Everyone in a mad rush, running, pushing forward against the crowds. Back then to stop was to die, to slow down was to be shot or dragged off.

Now a small boy pushed a scooter beneath a soft blue sky, a woman re-tied the strings of a baby’s bonnet. Now the place was so peaceful you could hear the sound of leaves softly blown by the wind. How was I to imagine what had once taken place here?

The Visiting Scribes series was produced by the Jewish Book Council‘s blog, The Prosen People.

The Jewish world is full of debates. Get the latest in MyJewishLearning’s weekly blogs newsletter.

Posted on April 23, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

The Beginnings of A Bintel Brief

a-bintel-briefIn January 1906, a woman wrote a letter to a Yiddish daily newspaper called the Forward, to complain that her watch had disappeared. The letter was written in choppy Yiddish; the woman was not used to writing and it was obviously a struggle for her to put her thoughts on paper. The watch was the woman’s only valuable possession. When her son, who supported the family, couldn’t find work, she would pawn the watch so that they’d be able to buy food. The woman suspects her neighbor, an even poorer woman, of taking the watch. She writes “Now the watch lies in the hands of your pawnshop man and not in the hands of my pawnshop man.”

At first, the newspaper editor who read the letter thought the woman had written it in spite, and was trying to shame her neighbor. But on closer inspection, he realized that the letter was actually an exercise in tact. The woman didn’t want to hurt her neighbor’s feelings by confronting her; but she knew the neighbor read the Forward, and hoped to plead with her anonymously through its pages. The letter ends: “I swear on the life of my sick husband that I will remain your friend…just send me the pawn ticket in the mail and I won’t say a word… But give me back my bread.” Continue reading

Posted on April 23, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

The Things I Miss About Israel

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marrying-of-chani-kaufmanI made aliyah in 1999 at the age of 25 and lived in Jerusalem for a year, and then for two years in Tel Aviv, working as an English teacher in high schools. I returned to London in 2002 for a break, feeling very burnt out by the intensity of life that is Israel. I needed to recharge my batteries and make a decision about whether living in Israel was really for me. I ended up being offered my old teaching job back at a girls’ Catholic Convent school. I realised at the same time how much I missed the breadth and variety that London has to offer, and its solidity—which is no small thing, having just spent two years living through the second Intifada. Then I met my husband so my fate was decided. While I love Israel deeply and go back to visit nearly every year, there are still a few things I continue to miss about the country:

  • The smell of baked tarmac and hot, moist earth the minute you step off the plane
  • The fact that December 25th is just another ordinary, sunny day
  • The road signs that loom out of nowhere in the desert for places called Sodom and Lot
  • The brilliant, white curves of restored Bauhaus buildings against an azure sky in Tel Aviv
  • The fading, crumbling colonial gems that appear like ghosts flitting between modern blocks, down narrow forgotten streets in South Tel Aviv
  • The existence of Modern Hebrew everywhere—screaming billboards, shop signs, radio jingles, the language of the street and the courtroom, of commerce and of lovers, of politicians and mothers
  • Eating chunks of sweet, fleshy watermelon mixed with salty feta cheese at a café on the beach at midnight—my toes in the sand
  • The sultry scent of oleander, its waxy flowers adding another ingredient to the olfactory explosion that is a Tel Aviv summer night
  • The sweet relief of rain after the relentless barrage of summer
  • The old, wooden poles that support loops of ugly electric cable that hum at night in Neveh Tsedek
  • The screeching of stray cats pursuing their amorous adventures at the back of every apartment block
  • The bliss of stepping into the cool, quiet luxury of air-conditioning
  • The blinding, biblical sunlight that strips the world of colour at midday that can’t be found anywhere else
  • The ancient city of Jerusalem with all its secrets, curses and shadows
  • The modern bubble of Tel Aviv with all its vim and vigour and love of youth and hedonism
  • The quiet and peace that steals over both cities just before sundown on Friday
  • The old, moss covered sycamore trees that look like old men with beards that line Rotschild Boulevard and the fruit bats that live in their branches and haunt your peripheral vision with their silent swooping
  • The smell of hot pine resin and crushed pine needles from the little playground where I used to play as a child near my grandparents’ house
  • The knowledge that if England were to ever throw me out for being a ‘dirty Jew,’ I would always have a home

The Visiting Scribes series was produced by the Jewish Book Council‘s blog, The Prosen People.

The Jewish world is full of debates. Get the latest in MyJewishLearning’s weekly blogs newsletter.

Posted on April 11, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Make Passover Cooking a Family Affair

let-my-children-cookFollowing the release of my newest cookbook, Let My Children Cook! A Passover Cookbook for Kids, people often ask me whether it’s REALLY possible to get the kids to be helpful in the kitchen with all the holiday food prep. The answer is: Yes!! While it may take longer to peel those potatoes or to whisk the eggs, it’s well worth it. Kids love to be helpful (though it may not always seem that way!) and little jobs keep them entertained during the pre-Passover hustle and bustle. Besides, they’ll always remember it as special quality time and will even learn along the way.

Over the years, my kids have spent many enjoyable hours in the kitchen with me. I find it’s all about expectations. I try to set out a certain amount of time we will spend together and try not to push it. Cooking with kids is wonderful but best if done in increments rather than a marathon of kitchen time. If there’s more to be done, I finish it myself after they’ve gone to bed. For the younger ones, I make sure to designate very specific, simple jobs. Once they finish, say, rolling out dough for cookies or chopping veggies for a salad, I make sure to thank them and let them know they’ve been very helpful. This has proven to have gone over well in my family, as my bigger kids are now great cooks. They truly love to prepare anything – but they do have a preference for desserts. (Who doesn’t?!) My son is excellent at braiding challah (not for Passover, of course) and baking apple crisps. Last year, my girls made delicious potato blintzes and Passover egg noodles.

Besides for keeping my kids involved, our time spent in the kitchen together also serves as bonding time. Everyone says they grow up too fast…and it’s true! Soon they’ll be busy with friends and other interests. I like to make cooking time an enjoyable activity for the family, even if it may take longer than doing on my own. Memories that will last a lifetime are being formed. We even have some funny stories involving a few kitchen flops that certainly won’t be forgotten. I once made a beautiful cake with my children and it slipped out of the pan right onto the counter. Of course, they were thrilled since they got to eat it right then and there.

So, I say, instead of dreading the hours of cooking and baking you are planning, embrace it. Get the kids some cute aprons, put on some music, enjoy the quality time. When you sense they’ve had enough, do some crafts together (that is why I included some crafts in Let My Children Cook!) and sit the kids down with some art supplies. The atmosphere will be pleasant and you will be able to check some things off that pre-Passover “to do” list while creating positive memories.

The Visiting Scribes series was produced by the Jewish Book Council‘s blog, The Prosen People.

The Jewish world is full of debates. Get the latest in MyJewishLearning’s weekly blogs newsletter.

Posted on April 11, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

A Glimpse into the English Charedi School System

eve-harrisThe school was on a residential street in North West London. From the outside it was unremarkable, but the atmosphere as I crossed the threshold for the first time for an interview to become an English teacher, was astonishing. The Catholic convent school I’d just left was a seething cauldron of energy and chaos. The noise of ringing school bells and yelling teenagers formed the backdrop to a relentless melodrama of flunked exams and teenage pregnancies. After twelve years teaching in the comprehensive system, I was burnt out.

The advert in the TLS described the school as a girls’ grammar, but I guessed from the Jewish name that it would be quite religious, so I was dressed appropriately – long skirt, long sleeves and a neckline high enough to cover my collarbone. I’m a secular Jew, but I had no inkling what I was letting myself in for. The school wasn’t just a bit religious; it was a Charedi school, the most theologically conservative stream of Orthodox Judaism. In the UK, they are known for their black sable ‘shtreimel’ hats and curled side-locks, and little else, since they are notoriously insular. According to Jewish Policy Research, there are currently 53,400 Charedi Jews in Britain, a group that is growing fast. Membership of Charedi synagogues has doubled since 1990, and they now account for three out of every four British Jewish births. Continue reading

Posted on April 10, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Recipe: Moroccan-Style Gefilte Fish For Passover

let-my-children-cookI recently presented a cooking demo based on my new Passover kids’ cookbook Let My Children Cook, in Jerusalem. During the time the women and I had together we talked about some of the recipes (of course), watched some of them being made and baked right there, and tasted every one of them (was this in doubt?). I don’t know who had the better time – the ladies or myself. I really enjoy meeting new people this way and hearing their experiences, their feedback, and, of course, their own recipes.

After writing a number of cookbooks, you’d think I’ve heard it all when it comes to gefilte fish. Then, a participant speaks up and tells me her favorite version of what to do with an average gefilte fish roll – something I’d never even considered. So, if I am smart, I run and get a scrap of paper and write it down because these kinds of ideas are gold nuggets when it comes to creativity! Or, someone tells me that her grandmother from (name that country) used to tell her what her mother made for Passovers when she was a child, and I get introduced to yet another facet of Jewish history and food. Sometimes I think I ought to record my shows since I don’t always remember every single thing by the time I get home and that’s a shame, since every memory is precious.

I also find that with every demo, I learn something to help me in the kitchen. Whether it’s a good tip or a recipe, there’s always novel wisdom I gain from the participants. This demo was no exception.

I was in the middle of demonstrating and explaining how I came up with the unlikely “Moroccan-Style Gefilte Fish” recipe in my new cookbook. I was explaining the way I developed the recipe and what I’d done to get the taste just right. Then one participant asked me if I defrost the roll first. I explained that it is best to defrost for about a half hour, so the paper on the roll removes easily. Someone else chimed in explaining a very easy way to avoid the wait: Simply take the wrapped, frozen loaf out of the plastic. Unwrap the two ends, run it under a stream of water, and…voilà! The paper then slides right off. I just shaved half an hour off this recipe. What a great tip! I’m certainly going to remember that for next time.

Since I mentioned my new gefilte fish recipe and the wonderful time-saving tip I learned, I’d like to share the recipe with you:

Moroccan-Style Gefilte Fish

Okay, so maybe this one is messing around with two different customs of fish — “gefilte fish” is mostly Eastern European, and Moroccan-style is mostly, well, Sefardi, but it comes out so good that I just had to share it.

Pareve; Serves 10

Let’s get to it!

  • 1 frozen, ready-made gefilte fish roll
  • 1 cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika (cayenne pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into round slices

And here’s how you do it!

1.Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
2. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Peel off the wrapper and parchment paper from the frozen fish loaf and place it in the lined loaf pan.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the tomato paste, olive oil and all the spices.
4. Smear this all over the fish loaf and add in any leftover tomato paste.
5. Place the cut onions and carrots all over the fish loaf and in any spaces you find in the pan.
6. Cover the loaf with the parchment paper and then again with a piece of foil. Seal the edges well.
7. Bake for 1½ hours. Remove from the oven and let cool; refrigerate until serving.

Serve sliced, with the cooked veggies on the side. Really delish and quite different, too! And the aroma it emits while baking in your oven makes the whole kitchen smell inviting and amazing.

The Visiting Scribes series was produced by the Jewish Book Council‘s blog, The Prosen People.

The Jewish world is full of debates. Get the latest in MyJewishLearning’s weekly blogs newsletter.

Posted on April 8, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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