Traditions Continue at Break-the-Fast

Break-the-fast and breakfast have a lot in common. If you ask what most of us will serve at our break-the-fast meal, it’s dairy and some mish of breakfast and brunch. While large gatherings of “Break-the-Fast” are a thing of the not-too-long-ago past, Atlanta’s Jewish families recall cherished family gatherings. This year scaled down versions continue, but memories of break-the-fast traditions live on.

As a little girl, I recall waiting for my father, Jack, and grandfather, Morris Freedman, to walk across the street following services at AA Synagogue. The tray of glasses of orange juice and Grandma’s platter of home-baked sweets, including her apricot strudel, lovingly awaited fasters. A kosher dairy dinner followed, of which I faintly recall the tuna fish and a colorful cutlery tray. Now decades later, we still stick to dairy, however, choices vary from boxed dinners to individually portioned delicacies.

Esther Levine recalled, “During and after World War Two, soldiers stationed at Fort Benning and attending synagogue were invited to our break-the-fast dinner. Our daddy went around the Conservative Shearith Israel synagogue in Columbus, and if he saw someone he did not know, especially those in uniform, he invited them to come to our break-the-fast. The milchig meal included herring, blintzes, salmon, bagels, and lox we got from Atlanta, plus a memorable multi-colored, layered Jell-O mold. Mother loved to cook and entertain and all she needed was an excuse. I also recalled the yearly cheesecake she made that had crushed pineapple and a graham cracker crust. The coffee and the tray of OJ was always present along with a schnapps for daddy.”

Lori Halpern shared, “During the holidays, I always make my Grandma Hattie’s apple cake, and I usually bring my chocolate chip coconut macaroons when I go to a break-the-fast.” Lori’s husband, Kirk Halpern, and son Ben see the holidays from a close-up perspective at Farmers & Fishermen, with an outpouring of orders and deliveries for an array of delicacies for the holidays.

Erin Lis, vice president of sales & marketing for Added Touch Catering said, “For Yom Kippur we are seeing people going small again – although for Rosh Hashanah we offered our full-size menu, for Yom Kippur we have kept smaller-sized portions on our to-go menu. For the second year now, we are also offering our ‘break-the-fast in a box’ – which comes with a 1-2 person serving of lox, cream cheese, tuna, egg salad, white fish salad, fruit salad, and all the toppings including tomatoes, onions, capers, lemons, and bagel chips. This has really appealed to people who are still trying to avoid gatherings but still want to taste and feel the traditions of break-the-fast. For a small family gathering we are seeing that people want things easy and turn-key, but don’t want to compromise on style. That is where the ‘Lox in a Box’ concept came from – a beautiful lox platter with cream cheese and all of the toppings. Since all of our to-go orders go out during the day before Yom Kippur, we avoid the day-old bagel situation by offering our homemade bagel chips, which are delicious for days.”

Annette Marcus of Annette Marcus Catering added, “Around our table, we enjoy the same break-the-fast meal year after year. It’s part of the tradition that keeps us bound together. We look forward to the spinach and mushroom quiche, maple pecan French toast and hum with delight as the chocolate streusel crumb babka finishes us off. We have embraced a day of introspection and at the end of the evening we embrace those we love most. For me and my family, the table is where our lives converge, making memories over lovingly prepared food, bringing spiritual, emotional and lasting sustenance.”

On a final note, or I should say bite, Marcus’s culinary poetry seems to sum it up best.

“This holiday season will be different no doubt.

But delighting your family is what it’s about.”