By Vivian Henoch, Editor myJewishDetroit
September 29, 2016
You know about #PinterestFails? They’re great. Really great. I may venture so far as to say that once cat videos were the internet’s gift to mankind, and now that gift has been upstaged by the #PinterestFail.
Basically, ambitious, confident go-getters jump on Pinterest, find some great project or recipe, give it their all, miss the mark and have a laugh about it with the rest of the world. Everything from cupcakes that are suppose to look like Cookie Monster and end up as barely edible sad blue blobs to no-sew blankets made out of old sweatshirts that don’t look anything like the picture when they’re done. Here are some of our favorites…
But let’s back it up to a pre-Pinterest world and remember the original source of crafty and culinary genius in many of our lives. Before inspiration boards there were inspiring bubbes. And whether they were throwing down in the kitchen or knitting afghans with one hand tied behind their backs, our grandmothers were all the Pinterest we needed.
This got us thinking, how would we fair attempting to recreate some of our bubbes’ handiwork? Would we #NailIt or have to file it away as a #BubbeFail? So without further ado, here is the NEXTGen Detroit team giving it their all to make their grandmothers proud.
Becky Hurvitz, granddaughter of a puppet maker. Seriously.
My grandmother, Caroline Bommarito, may her memory be forever a blessing, was one of the best people you could ever want to meet. I know everyone says that about their grandma, but mine really was that great. She loved her grandchildren, especially me because I was the youngest. Unless my cousins are reading this, and than she loved us all equally, of course. But not just us, she loved all children. So much so that for over 20 years she sewed hand puppets for children at St. John Hospital. She made tons of them…every animal, every nursery rhyme character, one for every holiday on the calendar. I loved them. The kids she made them for loved them. She loved making them. And now I am going to conjure up every sewing skill I still possess and do them justice.
Megan Topper, granddaughter of sports enthusiast and Detroit Public School gym teacher.
My grandma, Rose Bankler, known fondly by her grandchildren as “Grams,” was not your typical broad born in the early 1900s, nor was she a typical 1950s mom. Never one to mix up a feast in the kitchen, this grandma could be found blowing her whistle while teaching the local schoolchildren a mean game of basketball or hollering at the TV as she encouraged her football team to win. Much of my childhood was spent under the care of Grams. When she wasn’t teaching me to sing my address or tie my shoes, she was running around with my brothers and me playing games. Favorite pastimes included diving for rings at her condominium pool and most impressively, working tirelessly at perfecting the headstand. The forever patient Grams was one of the most determined women I’ve ever known. Her memory lives on in this handstand, and of course in the hearts of all those that loved her.
Judy Lansky, granddaughter of a penmanship whiz.
My grandmother, Florence Paull (let’s go Flo) died when I was only 11. I remember her love of shopping, ceramic painting skills, devotion towards her family and mostly, her sense of humor. Grandma taught my siblings and me how to spit the straw wrappers at each other while my parents sat helplessly trying to calm down their rowdy kids. It turns out Grandma’s ceramic skills and general artistry started well before my mom was even a twinkle in her eye. One of my mom’s prized possessions is Grandma’s old yearbook from 1947. Her handwriting is elegant, uniform and literally looks like a font. I tried to imitate it but growing up in the 21st century has made me pretty dependent on Microsoft Word.
Hallie Eisenberg, granddaughter of one heck of a baker.
My grandma Gail Jacobs, better known in my family as “Guy”, is someone I am very lucky to have in my life. We share many mutual interests such as photography (she has taken some amazing photos!) and traveling the world. However, one thing I envy most about her is her amazing baking skills. There is never a meal with her that does not consist of a delicious dessert to cap it all off. From the second I moved out on my own I immediately told her that all I wanted was for her to teach me how to cook. One of my favorite things that she makes is a carrot ring and whenever I think of the Jewish holidays it is the first thing that comes to my mind. I was nervous that I would never do it justice when it came to making it myself but I must say, though nothing will ever taste as good as hers, I am happy to report that next time I can make it for her!
Eviatar Baksis, grandson of a keeper of culinary traditions.
In Israel, it’s a common joke to tell how all the Jews that lived in Morocco before making Aliyah worked for the king and how good their lives were in Morocco. But in truth, they left for two reasons: because they were Zionists and wanted to fulfilled the Zionist dream, and because they suffered from anti-Semitism. While the Moroccan Jews were, at one point in history ,“very” close with the king, they were not well received by the larger Moroccan society. Every end of Passover, my grandmother would invite all of the family to mimuna, a traditional post-Passover celebration that they brought from Morocco, a celebration that they actually used to celebrate with the king. My grandmother would decorate the house and make no less than 30 different kinds of jam (including onion jam, and my favorites fig jam and eggplant jam). The tradition is that people are coming from all over and it’s open house without invitation, so you can just stop by even if you don’t know the family. We had an average of more than 300 people, and it’s a celebration of mingling, good food and a lot of treats made with dough — the most known one is sefenj, a North African doughnut cooked in oil. Sfenj is eaten plain or sprinkled with sugar or soaked in honey. Wish me b’hatzlacha as I attempt to make my savta’s stefji!
Alyssa Gorenberg, grand daughter of a world-class needlepointer and tallit maker.
My bubbe, whom we lovingly call Mommom for reasons we may never know, is arguably the craftiest woman I have ever known — but her specialty, by far and away, is needlepointing. In fact, whenever we would winter with her in Florida growing up, I always could count on her to be working on some large needlepoint that would eventually hang on one of our walls. One day when I was just about 11 years old she took me and my sister to one of the local needlepoint canvas shops (no seriously, they have those) and we were instructed to pick out the pattern that would be on our tallit. In fact, my sisters, my cousins and I all had the blessing of having a custom, handmade tallit given to us at our B’nai Mitzvot to cherish for our entire adult lives. While needlepointing was never my strong suit, I took on the challenge of knotting my tzitzit by hand. I would label this as a joint bubbe success and a true gift that I will always cherish.
Brittany Karson, great-grand daughter of a great baker with a backup plan.
When my sister and I were kids, we would go to my Grandma Rena’s house and she always had mandel Bbread in the cookie containers. We would sit down to have cookies and it was always served with a small can of Motts Apple Juice with a straw. If for some strange reason she didn’t have fresh mandel Bbread, she would offer us a chocolate chip cookie, which she would defrost from the freezer. She always had something fresh and something frozen so that no matter the occasion, there were homemade cookies. This will always be one of my favorite memories. My sister and I still talk about those cookies to this day.