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Sunday, October 4, 2015

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Cookbook speaks volumes: Miracles and Meals

Tags: Food

Most best-selling cookbooks become food-stained, but the pages of Miracles and Meals will become tear-stained as you read the 115 incredible stories of survivors from the horrors of the Holocaust. Each story is accompanied by treasured recipes that come from survivors all over the world. 

Joanne and Harvey Caras were in Toronto in late April to launch Miracles and Meals, Volume 2 of The Holocaust Survivor Cookbook, at Uptown Chabad. Joanne’s presentation was mesmerizing, bringing tears to the eyes of the audience as she shared some of the heart-wrenching stories submitted by Holocaust survivors and their families.

Joanne and Harvey have travelled to more than 150 cities around the world sharing their World Mitzvah project with thousands of men and women. The goal of the Caras family is to sell six million cookbooks worldwide. Profits from their first volume, The Holocaust Survivor Cookbook, have helped feed hundreds of poor people each day at the Carmei Ha’ir Soup Kitchen in Jerusalem. Their cookbooks have also earned three-quarters of a million dollars for groups that have used them as a fundraiser.

Joanne and Harvey became involved with the soup kitchen in 2005 when they went to Israel to spend time with their son Jonathan and his wife, Sarah, who were volunteers in the soup kitchen. Joanne was very impressed with the dignified way they treated their patrons. Those who cannot afford to pay do not. People who can afford to pay leave tzedakah at the door.

Joanne writes: “While the amazing survivor stories are the heart of both cookbooks, I can’t overlook the wonderful recipes that we received. Most of them are old family recipes, and many would have been lost forever if the survivor had perished. Some of the recipes are very detailed in their ingredients and preparation instructions, others are not so much. Some tell us to put in ‘a little of this and a little of that.’ But the explanation of where the recipes came from and how they were passed down from generation to generation is priceless.

“We suggest that each time a recipe is served, someone at the table should also read the story out loud and show the photos that go with it. We want to make sure that our children and grandchildren hear the stories that come from these witnesses so they will never let this happen to our people again.”

There are 115 new stories and 250 kosher recipes in Miracles and Meals. The recipes are organized by contributor, not by category, so you may find one page with a main dish and a dessert recipe side by side. There are also many Passover recipes. Instructions and ingredients are often vague, but the stories of survival from the contributors are explicit and memorable.

If you want to honour the memories of those who perished in the Holocaust and those who survived and rebuilt productive, positive lives, then you’ll definitely want to purchase a copy for yourself and/or family members.

“Twenty-two souls of my immediate family perished: my parents, brothers, sisters, their spouses and eight nieces and nephews, including an infant born – still in the bunker under the ruins of the Warsaw Ghetto. Every Jew has a matzevah, a tombstone, a grave to go to. We have none. To us survivors, this was denied. I am one of the last generations of eyewitnesses. In the twilight of my days, I am pouring out the terrors of my life in the Warsaw Ghetto and in the death camps. But it has come to a time when we survivors must entrust our painful legacy to the youth – it is you who will carry our testimonies in the future and ensure that the voices of those who deny this atrocity are silenced.” –Ella Blumenthal, Cape Town, South Africa

Miracles and Meals is dedicated to the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. For more information, visit www.survivorcookbook.org or contact Joanne Caras at 443-604-2643.

* * *

Several Canadians contributed their survival stories and recipes, including Frances Iskov,  Sara Milbauer, Rachel Shtibel , Sophie  Soil and Faye Schulman of Toronto, as well as Katia Baum and Elizabeth Segelbaum of Montreal.

The following excerpt comes from the survival story of Sophie Soil of Toronto, who was born in 1935 in Iasi, Romania. Sophie and her family bear witness to numerous traumatic Nazi-perpetrated atrocities.

“I remember well when the German soldiers came and took over our two-room, main-floor apartment, brought their horses indoors and settled in without our consent, with the worst to follow. The only thing that saved us was my gutsy mother making a deal with them: that if they let us stay and supplied her with the necessary ingredients, she would cook for them – if we could also have some leftovers for ourselves.”

Sophie Soil managed to survive and now lives in Toronto. She has written poetry, prose and short stories that have been published in literary journals and anthologies worldwide. Her third memoir is Yesterday Runs Always Through It: Reminiscences of My Life and Times (2010). She also has certificates as a chartered and master herbalist and researches and writes about alternative health. She writes: “Through my many progeny and a life well lived, I consider it to be my vindication.”



1 large eggplant (2 lb., cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices – about 8)

coarse salt and ground pepper to taste

1 cup best quality marinara sauce

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

1 large egg

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 tsp. oregano

1 cup shredded mozzarella (8 oz.)

crusty bread for serving (optional)


Season eggplant with salt and pepper; arrange in shallow 2-quart oven dish with a lid. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes until tender and pliable, but not fully cooked.

With spatula, transfer eggplant from dish to paper towel-lined baking sheet and arrange in a single layer.

Blot the oven dish dry and spread bottom with 1/4 cup marinara sauce; set aside.

In small bowl, mix together ricotta, Parmesan, egg, garlic, oregano, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. pepper, or to taste. Dividing evenly, spoon ricotta mix onto the wide end of eggplant slices, leaving a 1-inch border on either side.

Starting at the wide end, roll up slices and arrange seam-side down in a single layer in the prepared dish. Top with remaining 3/4 cup of marinara sauce.

Cover dish and bake in 350-degree oven about 1 hour, sprinkle with mozzarella and bake again for a few minutes until cheese is melted. Serve with bread, if desired, garnished with more Parmesan. Serves 2 to 4.



4 medium onions, diced

2 tbsp. grapeseed oil

1 small green cabbage, chopped small

salt and pepper to taste

4 (or more) servings of meat (lamb shanks, beef, turkey, chicken)

1 or 2 large bottles V-8 juice or tomato juice

vegetable broth and tomato juice to cover

organic ketchup to taste


Chop onions, place the oil in large soup pot and sauté half, keeping the other half to add to the chopped cabbage.

In large bowl, mix the rest of the raw onions, chopped cabbage and salt, mixing and pressing/squeezing together by hand to soften the cabbage. When onions are sautéed, add the cabbage, meat and rest of the ingredients.

Bring to a slow boil, season to taste and simmer about 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until cabbage is soft and the meat is cooked through.

* * *

Faye Lazebnik Schulman of Toronto was born in Lenin, Poland, one of seven children. Faye’s eldest brother, Moishe, studied to become a photographer and ran a successful photography business prior to the war. Faye worked as his assistant, learning the skills that ultimately saved her life.

“Faye was forced to work as a photographer for the Nazis. She processed the photographs they took as they meticulously documented their inhumane activities. Because of her work as a photographer, she was able to leave the ghetto each day. She risked her life getting food for her family and others by trading with local farmers and peasants.

“At dawn, on Aug. 14, 1942, the Jews of Lenin were forced from their homes and assembled in the town square. Faye recalls helping her sister dress her two young children as everyone hurried out. She hugged them silently. As the Jews were marched out, Faye walked past the commander, the Gebiets Kommissar, whose picture she had taken, and recognizing her, he suddenly nodded to an SS soldier who told her to walk in another direction. Faye walked into the synagogue where a small group of 26 people were assembled.  Faye wanted to run out to die together with her family. They started to shout. They said if one of them ran away, they would all be hanged. Faye did not want to risk their lives. She climbed up into the attic and watched as the remaining Jews of Lenin (approximately 1,850 people), including her parents, two sisters, brother-in-law, youngest brother, niece and nephew were marched to three open trenches where they were shot and cruelly murdered. Their cries still echo in her ears. The Nazis took pictures of the killing, and later, Faye was required to develop the film. She kept copies of the photographs.”

Faye Schulman wrote a book titled A Partisan’s Memoir and the title of her movie is Out of the Fire. She has spoken about her Holocaust experiences all over the world, and now her exhibit of photographs travels the world too.

“Jewish people did not go like lambs to the slaughter. They fought back. I was a photographer. I have pictures. I have proof.”



6 eggs, separated

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. lemon juice

1/3 cup water

1/2 tsp. cream of tartar


Beat egg yolks until thick and light. Add sugar and blend well. Add dry ingredients, flavouring and water. Mix well.

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar. Add to batter.

Pour into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 325  for 55 minutes.

Norene Gilletz is a food writer, culinary consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer and editor.

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