This piece was originally posted on the Hillel Israel blog.
"Once Upon a Kitchen Counter" is an initiative of the Hillel at BGU students Vitali Wiler and Ilya Vichman who participated in a journey following Jewish life in Eastern Europe within the framework of the Phoenix program along with 60 other students from the former Soviet Union.
Phoenix is an international program initiated and headed by Genesis Philanthropy Group with Yad Vashem, JDC and the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Upon their return, Vitaly and Ilya initiated a project with and for Holocaust survivors. They decided to produce a cookbook containing recipes from Holocaust survivors, remembered from their childhood home. Along with telling their personal stories, this initiative provides the Holocaust survivors a social occasion with the younger generation and gives them a unique opportunity to share knowledge and skills and to create something which can be shared with future generations.
The survivors and students meet at the home of the survivor, in Beer Sheva, throughout Israel and across the world, collecting as many recipes as possible for producing an interesting and one-of-a kind book. The aim is to collect recipes that are simple and unique, preserving the survivor's story, and remembering foods from Jewish communities which have been lost.
This is a framework which respects the survivors and allows them to share their memories in exciting and experiential way.
After collecting the recipes, images and personal experiences, the cookbook is being edited with the assistance of well-known chefs. The chefs tested the recipes, and added their advice and comments. Next, this unique collection of recipes will be published and distributed to students, local businesses and partnering organizations.
Proceeds from the cookbook will be devoted to additional activities benefiting Holocaust survivors.
We believe that this project will greatly enrich the students engaged in it, empower the Holocaust survivors who will share their past in a fruitful way, and endow the general public with a special book of disappearing recipes.
The "Phoenix" program was initiated and is supported by Genesis Philanthropy Group.
To purchase the book or for any questions regarding the project please contact Camille at Camillek@hillelisrael.org.
Listen to the English Voice of Israel interview featuring Hillel at Ben Gurion University Director Odelia Shalev and Holocaust survivor Elsa Epstein here.