Lieba Cohen of Hagerstown, and her husband Jerry, can be found helping out every year during the Jewish Food Festival hosted by Congregation B’nai Abraham in downtown Hagerstown.
She is usually helping with the bakery area; her husband is on brisket duties.
“The most important people are those in the kitchen,” Lieba Cohen said, noting there will be a variety of hot foods being served that day.
The annual event that celebrates the rich food culture of the Jewish people will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, May 7, at the synagogue at 42 E. Baltimore St. Admission is free; foods are sold a la carte and will be individually priced. Eat in or carry out is available.
“We have people who come every year with their own containers because they know they’re going to take home food,” Cohen said.
Even before 11 a.m., she said, people are already lining up outside of the synagogue to make sure they get their food.
Cohen said many congregation members make his or her speciality for the bakery portion of the festival.
“It’s like a whole smorgasbord,” she said.
Some of the types of breads are Challah, which is a special Jewish ceremonial bread; homemade raisin bread, and babka, which she describes as a “yeast kind of coffee bread,” to name but a few.
In addition, there will be plenty of desserts including Hamantaschen, which Cohen said is a three-sided cookie that is named after Haman the villain of Purim who is in the Book of Ester.
And for those looking for something warm, Cohen said there will plenty of menu items to choose from including the brisket, stuffed cabbage, kosher hotdogs, and, of course, soups including Matzo Ball Soup.
Carole Lafferman co-chairs the event with Dan Schiffman.
The Jewish Food Festival, Lafferman said, is “an opportunity to taste food that is not available in this area. Food that comes from a deep cultural heritage.”
Those who stop by to taste the goodies that are offered can also take time to tour the sanctuary, which is 125 years old.
“It’s also a chance to meet some of the Jewish community,” Lafferman said.
Lafferman estimates the event attracts several hundred people a year.
Cohen said she and her husband been involved since the festival first started, and they enjoy doing it. But she’s quick to point out they’re just two people in a large collection of volunteers from the congregation.
“Everybody pitches in,” she said.
She said she loves being involved not only because it gives back to B’nai Abraham, but also because of the camaraderie.
“I love it because you see all kinds of people from the community,” she said.
WHAT: Jewish Food Festival
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, May 7
WHERE: Congregation B’nai Abraham, 42 E. Baltimore St., Hagerstown
COST: Free admission; foods sold a la carte