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Inspiring Recipe of Hope

March 16, 2000|ANN CONWAY

Candied fruits, Viennese dumplings, chocolate strudel, goulash--they're all featured in the book "In Memory's Kitchen: A Legacy From the Women of Terezin."

But this is no gourmet cookbook.

Its pages are filled with recipes written by the undernourished and starving women of Terezin, a Nazi concentration camp in Czechoslovakia where tens of thousands of Jews died during World War II.

"This is a memoir--in dream recipes--of the women of Terezin," the book's editor, Cara De Silva, said at a luncheon sponsored by the Women's Division of the Jewish Federation of Orange County. "To create, as these women did, a cookbook of the kind women in Europe gave their children, was a means of enforcing their identity when they were surrounded by those who wanted to obliterate their culture, traditions and people."

Hundreds of women gathered at the Hyatt Regency Irvine to hear De Silva talk about the book--a collection of recipes, poems and letters--that she called a "historical document" and "a form of Holocaust literature."

"Most literature about the Holocaust has a limited audience," she told the crowd.

But this book has touched the hearts of millions of people around the world. "Food memories seem to transcend all boundaries," she observed. "Food is a powerful metaphor for life as well as a powerful identity maker. What we ate and with whom we ate it . . . are some of the most forceful components that make up who we are."

Organizers of the annual Women's Voices luncheon worried that the serious content of De Silva's lecture might result in low attendance. "They feared it might be a downer," said a federation spokeswoman.

Not to worry. De Silva, a culinary historian who came from New York for the affair, inspired the 420-strong audience with her sensitive tribute to the brave women of Terezin.

"The creation of such a cookbook was an act of psychological resistance, forceful testimony to the power of food to sustain us, not just physically, but spiritually," she said. "We're here today to acknowledge these women--pay homage--and celebrate the survival of their work."

Among guests at the luncheon was Kathy Rubin of Garden Grove, a Hungarian-born survivor of the Terezin camp.

"I was there as a teenager in 1945," said Rubin, 70. "Food was in short supply. My husband and I went back to the area on a tour two years ago and the guide was telling people that nobody was killed there--they died of natural causes. Starvation is a natural cause?"

Rubin remembers her mother and other women talking about recipes. "When you're hungry, you talk about food," she said.

Guests also included Donna Weinstein, president of the federation's Women's Division; Joan Goodman, winner of the federation's Anne Entin Woman of the Year award; and Ellen Glasser and Lois Jacobs, luncheon co-chairwomen.

Dr. Robin Dore Honored

Arthritis not only hobbles the elderly, it also incapacitates children, says Anaheim rheumatologist Robin Dore.

"People think children are too young to get arthritis but there are about 385,000 of them in the U.S. with disabling arthritis." she said. "It's so disheartening to see a 12-year-old need a hip replacement."

Dore, 50, was honored for her work on behalf of arthritis prevention and education during the Arthritis Foundation of Orange County's annual benefit dinner on Saturday at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel.

Event proceeds will be used to conduct research for juvenile arthritis. "We have learned that genetic factors can determine whether or not a child gets arthritis," Dore said. "But there are also environmental triggers--such as viral infections--that we don't yet completely understand."

Another startling statistic: "Juvenile arthritis is the leading cause of blindness in children," Dore noted. "The inflammation in the joints can also occur in the eyes in children."

Along with her daughter, Shannon, 20, Dore has created Bone Builders, an osteoporosis awareness program for girls. "My daughter developed it as a Girl Scout project and has continued to expand it nationally," Dore said.

"Osteoporosis is a pediatric disease that manifests itself as we get older if we don't have enough calcium and do enough weight-bearing exercise," she said.

Young women who spend large amounts of time at the computer or drink sodas instead of dairy products are especially prone to osteoporosis, she said.

Prevention is easy: "Eat three dairy products a day," Dore advised. "Do some sort of weight-baring exercise, such as walking, for 30 minutes, three times a week. And drink no more than one soda per day."

Dore was proud to be honored by the foundation for her work on prevention and education, she said. "If we can teach people about prevention and treatment of the disease, we can prevent a major problem--like a fracture--from happening."

For more information, visit the Web site:

Ann Conway can be reached at (714) 966-5952 or by e-mail at

The Orange County Movie Guide is in the Weekend section, starting on Page 29.

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