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Breaking the fast, Milwaukee style

Benji%27s+Deli%2C+located+in+the+Riverpoint+Village+in+Bayside%2C+Wisconsin%2C+bakes+delicious+meals+and+pastries%2C+including+pecan+bars+and+carrot+cake+%28my+favorite%29.+
Benji's Deli, located in the Riverpoint Village in Bayside, Wisconsin, bakes delicious meals and pastries, including pecan bars and carrot cake (my favorite).

Benji's Deli, located in the Riverpoint Village in Bayside, Wisconsin, bakes delicious meals and pastries, including pecan bars and carrot cake (my favorite).

Talia Gottlieb

Talia Gottlieb

Benji's Deli, located in the Riverpoint Village in Bayside, Wisconsin, bakes delicious meals and pastries, including pecan bars and carrot cake (my favorite).

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Happy Jew Year! If you were somehow not informed by endless Snapchat filters and Facebook posts, the celebration of the Jewish new year, or Rosh Hashanah, has come and gone. On Oct. 3, 2016, Jews around the world dipped their apples in honey, sang traditional songs and ate more than enough homemade Jewish food to bring in the year 5777. Rosh Hashanah is a joyous time in any Jewish home, but also reminds us of the nearing of Yom Kippur: the most somber holiday of the Hebrew calendar.

Yom Kippur is the day of repentance, prayer and good deeds; it’s a time to reflect upon the past year and apologize for all of your wrongdoings in an effort to start the next year off with a clean slate. Being the good Jew I am, my family and I went to temple all day long on Oct. 12 to ask for forgiveness for our sins, which include apologizing to the Big Guy for only going to temple that one time in any given year.

Yom Kippur is a very grave holiday; it’s all about unlocking those terrible things you’ve worked so hard all year to block out of your head. But, what’s even worse is that we’re not allowed to eat. 

If you’re not Jewish, you can not relate to the importance of food in our religion. Every single holiday has a specific lineup of mouthwatering homemade dishes, along with the standard dishes that repeat themselves throughout the calendar year. As our ancestors were once slaves to the Egyptians, our Bubbies and moms are now slaves to the kitchen. From kugel to brisket to gefilte fish to challah to bagels with lox to matzah ball soup and on and on, October is always the time, and Grandma’s dining room table is always the place.

What made this holiday so dreadful to get through is the fact that my lovely mother, being the typical Jewish mom that she is, offered to make not one, not two, not three, but four whole dishes this Yom Kippur, even though Breakfast wasn’t even at my house.

Oh, breakfast.

It’s the best of times; it’s the worst of times.

In a nutshell, breakfast consists of somewhere between 15 and 50 starving Jews in one kitchen surrounded by way more food than necessary, counting down the minutes until the sun goes down and the excruciating fast is over. Then, they can eat an insurmountable amount of food in a disgustingly small amount of time- and it’s so darn good.

Usually, I love helping my grandma and mom in the kitchen for Jewish holidays; it’s tradition, but no one resents preparing Yom Kippur breakfast more than I do. How can I possibly be expected to cook my favorite meal of the whole year while I’m forbidden from eating for another five hours? I think my complaint is understandable. Well, this year, I used the overly-stressed-out-senior excuse (not really an excuse; my life is a stressful mess) to get out the heck out of the kitchen, and I deserted to my room for a nice nap.

I was tauntingly awoken three hours later by the sweet, sweet smell of chocolate covered macaroons and potato pie, their smell sneering at me through my bedroom door. I woke up dizzy, five pounds lighter, terribly moody and ready for some good eats. I looked at my phone to check the time and all I saw was 4:15 p.m. and zero text messages. Of course.

The sun didn’t set until 5:30 yesterday, meaning I had an hour and fifteen minutes left until my freedom was restored. I pulled myself out of bed, fixed my makeup, threw on my “breakfast appropriate outfit”, a.k.a. I changed what I was wearing five times until my mom approved, and was downstairs by 5 p.m.; time really flies when you have a wasp’s nest perched on your head and it takes three pricey hair products, two different brushes and one very expensive hair straightener to look presentable.

I rushed downstairs and herded my family out like cattle to the garage (funny, because at this point, we would’ve been the most ironic cows you ever see due to our concaving stomachs). We piled up in the car and set out on our journey towards salvation.

The smell in the car was absolutely overwhelming. The kugel smell was the real killer- nothing makes me bloat like a good noodle kugel. We pulled up to our family friend’s house; I don’t think you’ve ever seen a family of five run faster. We sprinted through the door, skipped the lengthy Jewish hello’s for once and stopped dead in the kitchen. I stood in absolute awe of the all of the platters, filling plates and covered tables. Piping hot homemade dishes filled the air with heavenly smells that only come once every holiday season. Benji’s Deli matzo ball soup, Bruegger’s bagels and lox and Breadsmith challah- Milwaukee’s best Jewish food luxuries, all at my disposal. A little something about me: you physically can not put an Everything bagel with cream cheese and lox in front of me and expect it to be there five minutes later. So, I apologized to God just one last time, wished Him a happy new year, and chowed down.

There’s a moment at breakfast when every starving Jew finally has food in his or her mouth and the whole house is completely silent. Silence is a very seldom occurrence at any Jewish family gathering, so you can see how notable this moment is for everyone. After what feels like eternity, the moment passes, and the “mmm”’s and “ooohhh”’s and “ahhhh”’s begin, followed by, “My god, Hannah Rebecca, you have got to give me this brisket recipe,” and “Moshe, Samuel, if you keep eating so quickly, you’ll have no room for Chocolate Babka!”

Breakfast is the ultimate light at the end of a dark and twisted tunnel of lightheadedness and nausea, but, trust me, it entirely worth the wait.

Thanks for reading! See you next week on MilwaukEAT!

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Breaking the fast, Milwaukee style”

  1. Harriet Gottllieb on October 25th, 2016 2:47 pm

    Love the part about the Jewish silence. That is an oxymoron!!! Love you tons!!!!

    [Reply]

    Jane Chernof Reply:

    I can just picture the five starving family members racing out of the car to get to the break-fast table. (But Harley, the sixth family member, made it there first.) Lov Ya!!??

    [Reply]

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Breaking the fast, Milwaukee style