By Jane Keller Gordon, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Spiced chocolate hazel nut cookies (“krakerle”), cabbage slaw (“krautsalat”), and a Liptauer cheese spread are just three of the many recipes featured in “The German- Jewish Cookbook: Recipes & History of a Cuisine,” written by mother-daughter duo Gabrielle Rossmer Gropman (Gaby) and Sonya Gropman. On Nov. 7, about 60 people gathered at Westborough’s Congregation B’nai Shalom to watch the authors prepare these three recipes and talk about their book.
The event was a program of the Worcester JCC Author Series, made possible by a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Central Mass. Co-sponsors included the Congregation B’nai Shalom’s Sisterhood, Beth Tikvah Synagogue, and Haddassah Greater Boroughs Chapter.
Nancy Greenberg, cultural arts/senior director at the Worcester JCC said, “This is the first German-Jewish cookbook in a century. It’s a mix of history, memoir and recipes. It is a very important contribution in terms of documenting the culinary and cultural history of the Jews of Germany prior to World War II, and then the vibrant émigré community of New York City in the 1940s and ‘50s. This cooking demo and talk will be a discovery, even for those familiar with more typical Eastern European/American Jewish food.”
Gaby Gropman was born in Germany and immigrated to the U.S. in 1939 when she was 1. She grew up in New York City’s Washington Heights, which at the time, had a large German-Jewish population. She now lives in Medford. Gaby is a sculptor who has also spent many years working as a mediator.
Sonya lives in New York City. She is a visual artist and coordinator of Farm Spot, her local CSA (community supported agriculture) farm.
“My mother and I have our own personal answers for why we wrote our book,” Sonya said. “I’ve always had a deep interest in all things food-related, and always had a secret desire to write a cookbook. For my mom, she has a long-held interest in her family history as it related to the Nazis, having previously written about and made artwork about the topic.”
She continued, “The book came together when we realized there were no cookbooks about German-Jewish food in print. We felt the need to document and share this cuisine as one way of preserving this vanishing culture – and also because these little-known recipes are delicious.”
“This was a huge project, which took seven or eight years… About half of the recipes were family recipes; others were gathered from interviews we conducted and researching in 100-year-old German-Jewish cookbooks. We honored the original dishes, while writing the recipes in a contemporary format for today’s readers.”
Together, they co-author GermanJewishCuisine.com, where they write about German-Jewish food and culture.
For more information about events, contact:
Haddassah – Suzanne Robbins at email@example.com
Worcester JCC Book Series – Nancy Greenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org
Congregation B’nai Shalom – visit www.cbnaishalom.org
Beth Tikvah – visit www.bethtikvahsynagogue.org
Photos/Jane Keller Gordon