Big Nosh conquers hundreds’ hunger pangs – again

jmonk@thestate.comApril 22, 2013 

Paul Westfall, a volunteer worker at Sunday's Big Nosh, enjoys the sights with daughter, Sophie, 4, on his shoulders.

JOHN MONK — jmonk@thestate.com

They came hungry Sunday to the Big Nosh.

“This is delicious, ” said Sally Huguley, munching on a whitefish salad bagel Sunday afternoon. “It has tomato and onion in it – absolutely fabulous.”

She and her husband, Mark, were two of more than an estimated 1,000 people who flocked to the Tree of Life synagogue Sunday afternoon to “nosh” – nosh being a Yiddish word which loosely translated means “to eat.” More precisely, it can mean to eat lovingly, or with friends or family, or to snack with special enjoyment.

It was the synagogue’s fourth annual Big Nosh, which featured dozens of kinds of baked goods, deli dishes, soups, salads and desserts. Many of the congregation’s Columbia area’s 300 families have been preparing for the event for months. Many proceeds go to charities like Harvest Hope or educational endeavors like a communal garden watered by rain and naturally filtered storm runoff.

“Our goal is to help the community better understand the Jewish religion,” said Big Nosh co-chairman David Carr, who pointed out that attendees could learn about different aspects of Judaism from numerous booths and exhibits. “People get along better when they understand each other.”

The outreach also included different kinds of musical bands, an Israel dance celebration and kids’ activities including a rock climb.

“We hope to offer a little something for everyone,” Rabbi Daniel Sherman said.

But the food took center stage.

Most popular desserts included Mundelbrot — a kind of Jewish biscotti — and rugelah, a crescent-shaped dessert with currants and raisins and nuts and cinnamon and butter, as well as a traditional braided egg bread called challah

“We sold out of challah — almost 100 loaves,” said Amy Scully, who helped oversee the baked goods tables.

“Nosh” seemed especially applicable to another high-demand food: latkes.

“We sold over 600 latkes — at least,” said latkes stand worker Rick Cohn, another event co-chairman.

The hot golden-brown latkes Cohn was serving up had a fried outer crust with just the right amount of shredded crunchiness enclosing a soft potato filling accented with tasty bits of things like fried green tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, matzo meal, carrots, egg as well as some garlic, salt and pepper.

“The fried green tomatoes and jalapenos — those are our odes to living in the South,” said latkes specialist Cheri Shapiro. “You have latkes with either sour cream and salt, or with apple sauce.”

People wanting more of a meal bought a roast beef brisket on rye bread, a Kosher hot dog, kugel (a sweet noodle pudding side dish containing sugar, butter, cream cheese, eggs and milk) or matzah ball soup.

“That’s a chicken soup, but instead of noodles, it’s a matzah ball,” said Lisa Kaplan. Matzah ball soup is served at about every Jewish holiday but especially Passover, major Jewish holy days each spring.

Rabbi Sherman said he hoped the hundreds of non-Jews who came had learned a little of “what it’s like to be Jewish and live in Columbia in the year 2013.”

The Tree of Life was established in downtown Columbia in 1896, moved to the Shandon neighborhood and then, almost 30 years ago, moved to its current location on North Trenholm Road in Arcadia Lakes.

“Hopefully in April of next year, we’ll do it again,” Sherman said.

Reach Monk at (803) 771-8344.

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