CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- They've taken a few years off, but the women of Hadassah will again dish up brisket, kugel, latkes, challah and matzo ball soup April 21 at the Taste of Jewish Cuisine.
They last hosted the event in 2004 and served hundreds of plates of Jewish favorites to a cross-section of community members.
"It's a lot of work," said event chairwoman Lynn Meyer, who baked 35 loaves of challah herself for the event. She mixed a variety of fruits such as apples, pineapple and mandarin oranges into different batches of the batter.
She and Debbie Victorson, Betty Stern and Terrie Rosenfeld gathered in the Temple Israel kitchen several weeks ago and cranked out about 1,000 potato latkes, or crispy shredded potato cakes, to freeze for the event. Another group of women made 20 large trays of kugel, using 60 pounds of noodles and 200 eggs in the process.
Meyer made 50 strudels and ordered 50 boxes of matzo ball mix for the soup. She took over the strudel assignment from former chairwomen Helen Lodge, who has made the strudel in previous years.
Savory brisket, kugel and latkes traditionally claim the honor of favorite dishes served at the Taste of Jewish Cuisine, said Rosenfeld. Glazed carrots, salad, a vegetarian dish and a variety of desserts round out the menu.
Proceeds from the event and bake sale, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. April 21 at Temple Israel, benefit programs supported by Hadassah, most notably Hadassah medical facilities in Israel. The international organization has more than 350,000 members.
There are about 150 members in the Charleston/Huntington area. The organization's charitable mission motivated many of them to join Hadassah.
"I got involved because of the good works they do," said Stern.
Many women such as Meyer and Victorson, followed in their mother's footsteps when they joined Hadassah. Victorson's father was a rabbi and her mother a Hadassah state president in Illinois, where she grew up. Meyer's mother was a lifetime member in Baltimore.
"You see all that Israel does and your goal is to keep it alive. It's amazing what they accomplish there," Meyer said. "As Jewish women, we have to stand up and keep it going."
Not all Hadassah members are Jewish. Rosenfeld is active in her Catholic church, but became aware of Hadassah through her Jewish husband. She works at the Lenten fish dinners at St. Anthony's Catholic Church and makes latkes at the temple. She is a 20-year member of Hadassah.
"The reason I joined is that this is a wonderful bunch of women. And my husband is Jewish so, of course, I support Israel," she said.
Men and children will be enlisted to assist with the Taste. The women said they hope the event will spark an interest in Hadassah among young people, as the average age of members throughout the organization rises every year.
Meyer recently took her granddaughter to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee convention in Washington, D.C.
"There were 13,000 people from all over the country coming together for Israel," she said.
The Taste of Jewish Cuisine typically attracts members of the community who are not Jewish as well as those who are. "Many people come right after mass or church," Stern said.
The women hope to serve 800 guests. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children as old as 10 and may be purchased in advance by calling Debbie Victorson at 304-343-2660 or Lynn Meyer at 304-346-1154. Diners may eat in the Temple Israel dining hall at 2312 Kanawha Blvd. E., or carry out their food.
Reach Julie Robinson at jul...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1230.