Jewish food festival brings cultural exposure to Columbia

Now in its ninth year, "Bubbie’s Brisket & Bakery," an annual event held at the Beth Shalom Synagogue, gave Columbia residents the chance to sample over a dozen traditional Jewish foods and experience Jewish culture on Sunday. 

Members of Beth Shalom cooked all the food including rugelach, challah, baba ganoush and other traditional Jewish foods. 

For some, the event is a tradition. Alyssa Harris said she and her husband attend every year. 

“I love it because there aren’t many Jewish events going on in Columbia, especially ones with food,” she said. 

Terri Hodges, the chair and co-founder of Bubbie’s, said all of the recipes are deeply rooted in family and tradition. 

“Both my grandmothers grew up in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but, I mean they just brought all that good Jewish cooking down South," she said. "So, it's a tradition. It’s just generation after generation after generation these recipes are handed down, and I’m just thankful they’ve landed in my lap."

Bubbie’s is Beth Shalom’s biggest fundraiser with 500 to 800 in attendance every year. With that in mind, it takes months to plan. Food preparations started in early September this year, and more than 600 pounds of corned beef were prepared for the event’s most popular dish — the corned beef sandwich. 

Despite its continued success, Hodges said the event’s biggest goal isn’t to make money; it’s to bring people together. 

“It’s just the feeling of warmth, self-respect, good friendship, community, just getting out there and getting our name out there, and just having a good time,” Hodges said. 

Andrew Balaguer, a first-time attendee, was impressed by the food and the friendly atmosphere. 

“I think this is a great way for to get their name out,” he said. 

But Hodges hoped that people got more out of the event than just food and fun. Everyone in attendance was also invited to learn more about the Jewish faith by taking a tour of the synagogue.

“I want them to take away a feeling of community," she said. "I want them to take away, ‘Wow, Jewish food is great.’ But I also want them to just kind of see also what a synagogue’s like."

By exposing people to Judaism and its culture, Hodges thinks this event has the opportunity to make many more people aware of it. 

"Hopefully it’ll just open up some of the gaps that people just don’t understand about the Jewish religion,” she said. 

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