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Yesterday, the New York Times had an interesting article with some lovely recipes from the Satmar community in Kiryas Joel.

AS Mindel Appel showed me the contents of her freezer, my pulse began to race.

Out came her homemade kokosh cake, similar to babka. Next were shlishkes, little potato dumplings that can be tossed in sugar, breadcrumbs and butter, or stuffed with lekvar, a kind of prune preserve. Finally, she brought out a Hanukkah delicacy, the cheese Danish called delkelekh.

Of course, these Satmars are descendants of Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum’s Hungarian community and are in the process of rebuilding their community which was extensively wiped out in the Holocaust.

One of the world’s largest groups of Hasidic Jews, the Satmar originated in Szatmarnemeti, Hungary (now Satu Mare, Romania). There are communities in Williamsburg and Borough Park, Brooklyn; Monsey in Rockland County; and here in Orange County.

The founder of the Satmar Hasidim, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, was saved when more than 12,000 Jews from Szatmarnemeti were deported to Auschwitz. With the remnants of his sect, he settled in Williamsburg in 1946.

Concerned about assimilation, Rabbi Teitelbaum wanted a modern shtetl in America. In 1977 he bought a tract here and settled 14 families. Now there are 3,000 families, most of Hungarian descent, in Kiryas Joel.

Nice write-up with some terrific recipes. My favorite part, however, was:

Rabbi Jacob Freund, demonstrated his version of letcho. A burly man who is proud of his position as a village trustee, he sat down at the counter, carefully cutting peppers and tomatoes.

“Besides today, I have made letcho only 11 times in my life,” he said. “Each time after my wife had a baby.”

That’s right, you can throw out that sex manual (or the Cosmo article you saw in the doctor’s office) with the instructions on foreplay.

Recipes: Delkelech; Stuffed Under The Skin Chicken; and Eggs With Tomatoes, Peppers and Onions – Letcho.

Don’t forget, by the way, that Theodore Herzl, Harry Houdini, Imre Kertész, Robert Capa, André Kertész, the Reichmanns, George Soros, Andy Grove and these many other Jews are not Satmar but are all from Hungary. Here’s a wikepedia overview of the history of that community, which was mostly destroyed in 1944 by the Nazis in a few swift months.

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themiddle

13 Comments

  • Sheez, those kids in the photo look like aliens. Or like people in a cult, which, I guess they are.

  • The recipes sound pretty good, but what do delkelech, as delicious as they sound, have to do with Hannuka? They’re not cooked in oil.

    And, yeah, sod off, creepy.

  • You could have also mentioned; Edward Teller. Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, John von Neumann and of course Zsazsa Gabor as Hungarian jews of some note.

  • You could have also mentioned; Edward Teller. Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, John von Neumann and of course Zsazsa Gabor as Hungarian jews of some note.

  • As usual, Nathan takes subtle jabs at the religious. Also, her implication that these dishes–and Hungarian Jewish cooking in general–is nearly dead is way off. The Jewish population in Budapest alone is 80000+, including my in-laws, who have made me many of the dishes mentioned in this cute yet ultimately weak article.

  • They do not look like aliens. What an awful thing to say.

    So I’m guessing the aliens you saw that time weren’t Hasidic.

  • Zsa Zsa Gabor?

    Zsa Zsa Gabor?!?!

    Not entirely sure this is one we want to claim as an MOT, though.

  • Andy Grove, founder of Intel, was born in Hungary as Andras Graf. His father was a wealthy man, until the Nazis came along and he was arrested. Then he and his mother declined in status as they moved to a small town outside Budapest on a small income throughout the war, but were never deported, nor did they attempt to leave. Then the father returned after the war, very physically weak, but was able to take over a lucrative position in a different industry, possibly due to either Communist or Jewish connections in post-war Hungary. Andras was a physics student, very brilliant, and his family urged him to escape in 1956, by going over the border to Austria, get to Vienna and contact Red Cross, who’d get in touch with his New York relatives.

    So that’s how Andy Grove came to be an American,

    Read his autobiography: SWIMMING ACROSS. It’s not well-written, a little disingenuous, but some details of his life are there. He has never been back to Hungary. It seems he had a lot of issues with his own self-image as a child: quite fat, unpopular, reclusive and introverted, parents’ economics….

    Hungary is a beautiful country. I saw it in 1985, in the summer, hitchhiking.

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