Posts made in June 2017

An Afternoon With Holocaust Era Survivor; Hilde Reiter

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

The Holocaust remains one of the most brutal and tragic occurrence in mankind’s history. We still memorialize this tragic chapter of our past on special days, and in books, talks, plays, movies, sculptures and when possible, hearing directly from some of the remaining victims of this unbelievable tragedy.

The systemic extermination of a group of people is not uncommon in man’s long documented journey on earth. From Genghis Khan to the era of Slavery, man has behaved brutally toward one another. Still, the Holocaust is a memory its dwindling survivor’s harbor like an anchored ghost ship. One of those survivors, Hilde Frost Reiter, was a little girl when the world was a much different place. This is her story…

ePa: Hi Hilde, thank you for this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, like where you were born?

HR: I was born in Breitenau, Germany in 1920. I went to grammar school there for the first 5 years. In 1930 I went to a private school. I was there till 1935. This was a private school, my father had to pay for this. Then when times got bad for Jewish people after 1933, when Hitler came to rule Germany, he couldn’t pay anymore, and I had to stop going to school.

ePa: How was your family able to make it out of Germany when things got bad?

HR: My mother had a sister in Philadelphia, United States. She left Germany in 1913 with her future husband, and they lived in Philadelphia. They sponsored my older sister and brother in 1934. She immigrated to the United States. She saw the hand writing on the wall in Germany and she decided to leave.

I, in 1939, went to Israel. I wanted to build Jewish homeland. I thought that was more important than going to another country where Jewish people may be tolerated; that’s all. My brother and I went to Israel. I left in October 1939 and arrived in Israel in January 1940. I stood two-weeks, since it was an English colony, and they wouldn’t admit us to Israel at the time—Palestine wouldn’t—they left us standing two-weeks outside the harbor at Haifa and finally they admitted us through Palestine and they took us right to jail, which was called, Atlit [detainee camp], outside Haifa.

Since many people, Jewish people, from Europe had to come to Palestine, just to get out of Europe, there were many boats and many immigrants, and they didn’t have enough room in Atlit so they decided to let the women go and kept the men. My brother was there too, for ten months. He sat in Atlit doing nothing, until they finally released him. When I came out of Atlit, I went to Kibbutz.

 ePa: Your family was part of the influx of Jewish people fleeing Germany and other parts of Europe. Was it difficult to leave the country?

HR: If you could leave they’d let you leave. They didn’t prevent you from leaving. There was a Jewish Organization in Germany and they helped people to immigrate that already had the possibility, and there were also the Jewish agencies in Palestine. This was a coordinated effort to bring as many Jewish people to Palestine as possible. They came from Germany, they came from Holland, some came from England, a lot of them came from Poland and Russia. And, they organized these trips. They hired a boat, there’s a crew and they organized the trip on a train to the boat. We left on October 13, 1939, a Friday night.

The train entered the Vienna main train station. We were surrounded. The train was surrounded completely by SS. They took us in the train station. Separated the men from the women, and we were mostly young people. There were a few elderly people too but mostly we were 19, 20, 18… and, they checked everything out. We had to undress, and from A to Z… they checked the suit cases. We could only take 10 kilos, that was the maximum we could take and we were allowed to take 10 Marks. The money that we could take… we couldn’t take any more.

They finally released us and we went to the boat. We were three and a half months on the boat, then we changed to a little bigger boat. Then we went to the Aegean Sea… along to Lebanon and Haifa.

ePa: Your life was turned upside down from the upheaval of your family life and structure. What were you experiencing at the time as a young woman?

HR: The school I went to was a Catholic school and there were nuns that taught us. There was no anti-Semitism among the nuns but when it came to the children that went there to school, it was a different story. Plus, this was an all-girls school. Some they would talk to us but most of them when they saw us, they went to the other side of the street.

I think most of the young girls that went to school, they joined the Hitler Youths, that’s what they were called, and there, they were taught and told what Jews are and so on, and so on… The propaganda was atrocious, atrocious… you heard it on the radio, you saw it on every street corner. There was the newspaper, Der Stürmer, that was an anti-Jewish newspaper. I mean there were stars in there, I don’t know where they got them, or even when they were invented…and, horror stories… And, it was on every corner in our town, or in the big city.

So, if people today, or even after the Holocaust say they didn’t know anything about it, this is nonsense. Every person in Germany knew what was going on with Jewish people.

In 1934 they burned the books from all Jewish authors. But, there weren’t only Jewish ones. There were also from Communists, left leaning organizations, people that were more open and had more open opinions of certain things… People had to bind the books in the middle of the town and they burned them all down. This was all over Germany.

In 1934, there was a boycott. SS stood in front of every Jewish business and urged people not to buy from Jews anymore. In our store too. My family had a butcher store and there were two SS standing, but the people said, ‘We know these people all our lives, we never had a problem before and we’re going to buy’…”

My uncle saw the hand-writing on the wall. He, in 1934, took a trip to Israel. He bought a house there and he came back and saw this side of the business. Since everything was owned together, my father and him separated, they made an agreement and he left with his wife and younger daughter to Israel.

In 1936 after I couldn’t go to school anymore, I went to Berlin. I went there to school. We lived in Bonn with an elderly couple and they looked after us. During the day we went to school. It was a Hebrew school. It was attached to a beautiful Synagogue. There was also a little museum. Since the wars the museum and the Synagogue remains standing.

From there, I prepared for going to Israel. I went to another cultural school; we worked there and we learned, and that was part of the preparation to go to Israel. In 1938 they closed it. Because they could no longer financially make payments and we went outside of Berlin to further our agricultural training. And from there, I left in 1939 to Israel.

A project installing commemorative brass plaques in the pavement in front of the last known address of Holocaust victims by the artist, Gunter Demnig, started in Germany in 1997. Officials with the project reached out to Reiter for help uncovering some of the names of the victims. Many of them Reiter remembers fondly as a little Jewish girl growing up in Nazi era Germany. Thanks in part to her contribution to the project, there are over 610 places in Germany as well as in Austria, Hungary, the Netherlands, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Norway and Ukraine that bear the names of Holocaust victims. The Stumbling Stone project’s aim is to keep the memory of the victims alive and to ensure this page of man’s history is not forgotten or repeated.

Reiter got involved in the project in 2002 after a friend send her information about it.

HR: …They wanted some information. They sent me a letter, sent me a lot of information, they wanted me to verify that these are the people they thought they were. And, they asked me about other families, and about my family…this is how I got involved.

I answered other questions. I gave them information about my family. There was a husband and my favorite Aunt Loidh, wife and daughter I’ve been looking for, for about 35 years and couldn’t get any information about what happened to them. I send them the papers that I got from Red Cross, which were full of life and asked them if they could find out what happened to them. They lived in my parents’ house. And they were picked up from there.

They found what happened to them. When they were picked up, and where they went from there. They don’t know what concentration camp they got killed at but at least I know what happened.

I asked them, as a favor to me, if they would put three stones for each one of them in front of the house where we lived, and where they were picked up. And, they finally decided to do this. And it was my decision to go to Germany to be present when this happened.

There was another sister of my father…she perished with her husband, her son and daughter in Izbica. They picked them up and took them to Izbica [Izbica Ghetto]. According to German records, they kept them there on a train overnight and from there they took them to different concentration camps. But, they were all four killed in Izbica.

They lived in my grandparents’ house. She was the youngest sister and she took care of her parents, she lived with them in the house. Three other cousins of my father perished too.

Reiter can name several other families off the top of her head, including her own, that perished in the Holocaust and who are also commemorated in the Stumble Upon project.

HR: I gave them all the information about the family Wolf because the father died in the early 1930s and the mother since she was from Holland, took the two sons and was heading back to Holland. The older son, which was a good friend of mine, perished in Mauthausen, [Mauthausen-Gusen] and the mother and the younger son Gurd, they were on the train that the Germans just left…it was from Bergen Belsen, they left it on the track, and the wagons were all locked without water or food, they just left it there.

When the Americans came and found the train and opened the wagons…there were many dead, sick and dying… There were about 2,500 or 3,000 people, and they took them to the next town and made the towns people take care of them. The dead were buried there in mass graves. They took care of the sick, many had typhus, even 23 people from the town died from the illness…but the mother and the son also died there and were buried in a mass grave.

In 1938, Kristallnacht, they burned the synagogue down. They deliberately burned it. Someone came to tell my father that the synagogue was burning. He and another Jewish man ran and tried to save the Torah scrolls but there wasn’t too much to do…

“Kristallnacht (“night of broken glass”):  Nazis burn synagogues, destroy Jewish property, and beat and arrest thousands of Jews. This is the start of the harsher phase of persecution,” states Wesleyan University Prof. D. Morgan in a chronology of historical events.

Reiter goes on to say that the fire marshal lived right across the street from the burning synagogue and when the two men tried to get him to call for help he told them that the fire was deliberately set and that he was under strict orders not to do anything about it. Reiter’s father and the other Jewish man were arrested that night by the police for trying to put out the fire. Reiter’s father was released two weeks after being detained.  

HR: When he came home he said, ‘It’s time to leave’…”

My father would have never ever left Germany and leave one of his children behind. I got out in 1939 right after the war broke out, my brother left a few months later, probably about 8, 9 months later and then they sent my younger sister by herself to Spain and from there she went on a boat to America.

Then after everybody was out, my father tried to get out too. They got to the United States December 5, 1941. December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and that was the end of coming out of Germany because America declared war on Germany.

They were lucky that they got here when they got here… it was the last boat. The absolute last boat.

Reiter still recounts the good times she shared with some of the victims she helped to uncover for the Stumble Stones project, especially her family members.

HR: For me it was a very important day [The official commemoration] because I finally felt that my favorite Aunt, her husband and daughter, found a resting place. Nobody knew what happened to them but now we know. Now, they’re permanently remembered in front of our [family] house. From where they were taken and later perished… She was an exceptional person. She was my favorite aunt. They always invited me to spend time with them. And, I loved to go there. I only have wonderful memories of the family, and to me this was a very important day that I finally found out what happened to them and that they were memorialized.

ePa: Not everyone is happy with the Stumble Upon project. Some have taken issue with the placement of the plaques, essentially saying that the plaques being on the ground is offensive to the memory of the victims. Others are saying that the plaques negatively impact property values. What are your thoughts on this issue?

HR: I think it’s a wonderful project. It’s a worthwhile project. The reason they do this is for the younger generation that don’t know anything about the Holocaust, and should know about it, so this should never ever happen again. It’s true, there’s still anti-Semitism in Germany and I’m sure the people that didn’t like Jewish people then and don’t like them today, probably object to this. What can I tell you… apparently the majority agrees with it because this project has been going on since 1997.

ePa: Are there still lessons to be learn from the Holocaust?

HR: Absolutely. The artist of the project puts the commemorative stone markers on the ground to force people to bow down to read the names of the Holocaust victims. When you bow down to read, it’s like bowing down to the victims, to pay your respect, and that’s how I feel about it. We must remember the Holocaust, and be mindful of the lessons from it, to avoid repeating the mistakes that led to it.

Hilde Reiter left the Kibbutz life in Israel for the United States, a widow with two children, following the death of her husband who died from injuries sustained during the Independence War, (1947-1949).

HR: So much Jewish culture got destroyed, things got stolen that belonged to people, art, and all kinds of things… I think it’s important that we remember. And, this project [Stumble Upon] helped memorialize the victims. To me, it was closure for my family that passed. The two sisters of my father with their husband and children… I grew up with them. They meant something to me, and all of a sudden, you don’t know what happened to them…They were very important to me.

Reiter, now in her 90s, still lives independently in Westchester County, NY and is an active member of her community, especially at her local Library. She still travels to Israel, still speaks fluent German and gives talks on surviving the Holocaust whenever possible.

Bill Ayers On Activism In The Age Of Trump

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

The Big Conversation with Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn was held at The Other Side in Utica, NY in May. Ayers gained some attention during the 2008 presidential election for an allege connection between him and former president Barack Obama. The social justice activist, author and teacher, is Founder and former member of the Weather Underground Organization, (WUO). Ayers and his wife Dohrn were in town to discuss his new book, Demand The Impossible, a Radical Manifesto.

In addition to touting the importance of activism, the two long-time activists touched on gun violence, police brutality, and the Black Lives Matter and Resistance Movement that have steadily gained momentum following the election of President Trump.

Here they are in their own words…

 

Dear Philando: The Senseless Killing Of A Law Abiding American

By JEANETTE LENOIR

 

My heart is heavy. Not from joy but from the pain that overwhelmed me with the senseless killing of Philando Castile. He wasn’t killed once when it was live streamed across Facebook, but twice when a jury of his supposed peers made a conscience choice to not punish the police officer charged with his murder. And, a piece of America was killed too.

Castile was tremendously loved and good. This sentiment came across loud and clear from those who were touched by his love, gentleness and kindness after his life was mercilessly ripped from him. He died a terrible death. What made his killing incredibly painful is that the world watched him slip away grasping for air. Speaking his last words…”I can’t breath.” We all watched in horror as his precious life seeped out of his body like a wilting flower sped up for real time viewing on National Geographic.

I’m very angry and deeply sorry at the same time. These emotions aren’t new anymore. I felt the same anger and helpless feeling when I watched other black men and women brutally killed by those sworn to serve and protect We The People. But with each senseless killing it is becoming painfully clear, We The People is a subjective concept. How can we—black people—be part of the “We” described in the Constitution that upholds our laws and is meant to blanket us as a nation of one people under God when we—black people—are targeted like animals deserving of extinction?

Since the inception of this country, black people have been brutalized, terrorized, marginalized and blatantly mistreated. The Invisibles, a book about the untold stories of African Americans in the White House, written by Jesse Holland, states that the very first African slave to be inducted in this tragic archive of our history was named John Punch. …John Punch. The writings on the wall are revealing. We, as black people have been feeling this theoretical punch since the creation of America. We marched peacefully, protested passionately, sat-in bravely, walked hand-in-hand staunchly, and continue to fight hard for the freedoms those that don’t look like us enjoy in the same country we call home. A country built on the backs of our ancestors. And yet, here we are hundreds of years later still feeling the sting of the master’s whip on our backs. How can this be? Still, after all that’s been done to make this country a better place despite our shameful past.

Dear Philando, your death has broken my heart in so many pieces that I fear I can never pull them back together. Where do we go from here? Who’s next? What else can be done to change the blatant and systemic racism that plagues this land of ours? How many more hymns can one sing? We Shall Overcome has lost its tune as its purpose has fallen on hateful bigoted ears that refuse to see you, me… Us. “Who Is Next?” is a real slogan felt by a people tired of the targets on their backs. This country, built on the backs of slave labor is being choked to death by the good ol’ boys on capitol hill and all those who subscribe to their way of thinking and living. This includes the powerful NRA whose silence is deafening. And, Wall Street doesn’t see us either because to them we represent numbers to be calculated for financial projections and worth. And, what is an American life worth? It depends on what you look like and where you come from despite how the odds have been stacked against you since the beginning of America.

Trevor Noah hit the nail on the head when he called out the NRA for their silence on the killing of an American upholding his Second Amendment right. Using their own rhetoric, this issue lands squarely in their lap of gun toting luxury. They should be up in arms at this senseless killing and see it as an all-out attack against all Americans united against tyranny.

Americans are armed to the teeth. We love our guns and will fight tooth and nail to protect the right to arm and defend ourselves. And, these days, many are so obsessed with the gun rights issue that they’ve carried their automatic weapons to fast food joints and openly carried them in other public places. Some have been bold enough to openly carry their automatic weapons to a police station. Nonetheless, the question remains; where is the NRA? I dare to say, the organizations silence does speak. It says what black people in this country have lived with as a chain around their necks for hundreds of years. Their silence speaks to the blatant racism black Americans still live with. Their silence whispers like a dog whistle in the wind saying black people don’t matter. We don’t exist equally. Black people are only deserving of second class citizenship. The Second Amendment is meant to protect white Americans and the privilege they’ve become accustomed to. Even though that privilege was born on the backs of the black slaves that built this great country.

Black people being terrorized and discriminated against isn’t new. The method in shining a light on these injustices is what’s exposing the underbelly of a humanity I don’t understand or accept. One Nation Under God must mean more than just a sound bite. It must be real if Americans want to avoid an increasingly divided nation edging towards a cliff.

Land of the free, home of the brave? In the words of the great orator and Civil Rights icon James Baldwin: I don’t believe what you say because I see what you do.

Technology is the medium responsible for wiping away the stain that covers this great American motto as it shines a light on the blatant injustices committed against a group of people in their own country. We are simply seeing more of what many black people have become accustomed to. And, it’s going to take all of us that believe in a sense and understanding of humanity to continue to fight to change our racist culture. It’s time to vote like your life depends on it, because it does.

Dear Philando, watching your callous murder on video makes it all too clear that the words that describe what it means to be an American is lip service to those not lucky enough to be born white, or have a badge that protects them when they commit crimes against humanity. This, even though myself, like other black people, love all of my blackness, my culture and human design. When I look in the mirror I don’t see what the hateful bigoted among us see. I see life, beauty, culture and all that is good in this world. Why can’t they see what I see in myself and in those that make up my culture and identity? Why didn’t officer Jeronimo Yanez see you…? This is my struggle…as I wait for the next black body to fall.

 

Using Art To Challenge Gun Violence In America

 

BY JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Sculpture Space is a unique organization responsible for bringing some of the most creative and artistic minds to the forefront of society. Those lucky enough to be selected as an Artist-In-Residence are given an opportunity to create their work, share it with the public and in some cases, have their work displayed in different locations across the country. Sculptures, and art in general, comparable to early man’s parietal art, speak a unique and colorful language all people can identify with.

Art is part of our collective humanity and Resident Artist Matthew Mosher, through his art, is in lockstep with man’s prehistoric activities to communicate creatively. Art, like music, is a powerful medium penetrating hearts and minds, and Mosher is using it to address gun violence in America with his new installation at Sculpture Space.

Mosher says his vision for the two pieces he’s constructing is to address gun violence in America and to honor the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. “The first one that I’m making for the Pulse Memorial Show is a plaster cast 9mm cartridge for each person who was killed in 2016 by gun violence and homicides. And, it’s a total of 15,070 bullets.”

Mosher says he chose to honor the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting because it hit close to home. “I had recently moved to Orlando and shortly after I moved there the Pulse shooting happened and that got me thinking about gun violence. It’s a very interesting and unique problem to the United States compared to Canada, the U.K., Germany, France…the rate of gun violence in the United States is so high compared to other developed nations and the rate of gun ownership is so much higher than these other countries, but we also have very unique freedoms in the United States that these other countries don’t have. We have the Second Amendment and that’s very important.”

The topic of gun violence and the Second Amendment is a sensitive one dividing a nation of people on opposite ends of the issue. Mosher says his aim is to avoid the basic arguments typically centered on the right to bear arms. “You’re either really pro-gun or anti-gun so I wanted to make some work that would elicit dialogue about gun violence and gun ownership in the country without being really aggressive or in your face about it.”

To facilitate the dialogue intended for his pieces the Resident Artist and Professor of Digital Media at the University of Central Florida in Orlando says he was inspired by Tibetan Sand mandala, radial symmetrical and meditative forms unique to Buddhism to bring his work to life. “And, they’re cast in plaster, it’s like a white on white, white material on a white wall, so it’s almost calming in a sense. My hope is that it puts the issue more into the public eye to get people to talk about it in a level headed way instead of, ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ argument.”

Mosher adds, “It affects so many different things. There’s strange statistics on gun violence…two correlated things are, where there’s higher rates of gun ownership, there’s high rates of murders of women because domestic violence is a primary outlet for gun violence. If you own a gun you are more likely to commit suicide than if you don’t.” Even so, Mosher strongly supports the Second Amendment. “It’s very tricky but I do because if you look at the wording of the Second Amendment it’s the right to bear arms as part of an organized militia, which is designed into the Constitution to help people resist the government ultimately, and I think that’s the important part of the Second Amendment, is that it provides a way for citizens to resist a government that they oppose and that’s important. That’s part of what America is and I don’t think we can lose that.” He says he is open to a stricter interpretation of the Second Amendment that only allows gun ownership for militia members. “There’s nothing about protecting your right to hunt in the Second Amendment.”

Gun violence in America can arguably be classified as an epidemic and the current trajectory we’re on as a nation seems to be creating a greater gap among those on opposite ends of the gun violence and gun ownership debate. Nevertheless, something significant must change for the situation to improve, and Mosher’s pieces may just be the artistic tools needed to facilitate dialogues aimed at reducing gun violence in America. In addition to the plaster casts of 9mm gun cartridges, Mosher’s other installation is a map of the U.S. showing the six states where mass murders have taken place recently. The six states—Minnesota, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Kansas and Mississippi—are outlined with white plaster 9mm guns.

There are two other Resident Artists at Sculpture Space also undertaking significant work to improve humanity. Brooklyn resident Vanessa Albury traveled all the way to the Arctic to take photos of glaciers to highlight climate change. Her piece titled, Arctic Future Relics is a stark reminder of the sacredness of the Arctic glaciers and its susceptibility. Albury developed her photos in a dark room on a sailboat in the Arctic. “The pictures are not just a window into the world but what holds the image is the vulnerability aspect involved. The pictures mirror the vulnerability of the glaciers. They represent relics of the future…they’ll be gone one day.”

Balam Bartolome of Mexico City is the other Resident Artist with an installation he calls, Ritual Objects. He says his aim is to honor the magic of the universe by connecting culture and art using ritualistic objects. “I’m trying to reconnect magic and culture through art. Art is an act of love and that’s magic, I think.”

The artists and their installations can be found at Sculpture Space.

 

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The Kneady Baker Bakes His Bread As Fast As He Can

 

By JEANETTE LENOIR

 

Once upon a time, not too long ago, there were bread makers hard at work in the wee hours of the morning mixing, pounding, then shaping and waiting for the right moment to send their perfectly raised dough to the oven for their turn to transform into an important food staple; fresh baked bread using four simple ingredients; flour, water, salt and yeast.

“It’s about 18-hours worth of work. From the time that I start to mix the sour dough starter, mix the dough, let the dough ferment to rise, shape the dough and then bake it. The baking part is the fastest and the easiest; it’s in and out of the oven in about 30-minutes… It’s the 16, 17 hours ahead of that time when it’s fermenting. That’s where the flavor comes from and that’s where most of the work is,” said The Kneady Baker, (Joe Silberlicht) one of the last remaining American bread makers still true to using simple wholesome ingredients with roots firmly planted in the food culture of farm to table eating. For many, that starts with fresh baked bread, which is increasingly becoming harder and harder to come by. It’s no secret that mass-produced foods, especially breads, in the age of profit over people is pushing us further and further away from healthier options.

Even so, if you’re lucky enough to live near the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate, New York you can get your hands on this backsliding food choice. In addition to his 30 delivery customers, Silberlicht sells his fresh baked breads every other Saturday in Utica. The pop-up shop where you can also get your hands on imported cheeses from Italy and humanely raised meats from Bach Farms in Mohawk is held at a unique gathering spot called, The Other Side; a small trendy place on Genesee Street where many events ranging from Jazz performances, speaking engagements, community group meetings to little pop-up shops take place.

Most people in America have become accustomed to commercial bread void of the simplicity of days long gone and packed with a long list of complex preservatives for a longer shelf life. Even the simple taste of bread has changed drastically along the way. Bread may have lost some appreciation and value in our modern-day society but luckily there’s still a man hard at work keeping the fairy tale of the community bread maker alive. “The dough is always talking to you, the trick is learning to understand what the dough is saying,” Silberlicht says explaining the importance of bread. “I think bread is very important and you can certainly find that in great literature, that bread being the staff of life and all of that, but I think that the bread you buy in the supermarkets today has enormous number of ingredients in it that don’t need to be in bread.”

Other than the four core ingredients, Silberlicht only uses simple flavorings like ground coffee for color and flavor for his European black bread or sesame seeds to create his signature sourdough master pieces. He says his bread is simply better for you. “The bread that I bake is going to be wonderful for four days to about a week. But it’s not going to be in a bag on the counter still soft for 3 or 4 weeks like a lot of commercial bread might be. And, it’s all those additives that they put in there that I just don’t think are necessary. It’s much better to have a good loaf of bread, eat it while it’s fresh and get another good loaf of bread.”

In the era of heightened food sensitivities especially to gluten, Silberlicht says choosing fresh baked bread with simple ingredients is the way to go. “As long as they’re not diagnosed with Celiac disease, I like to ask my customers to try the sourdough bread because a lot of people who feel bloated from having a lot of the supermarket bread, when they eat my sourdough bread they find that it’s much easier for them to digest and they can enjoy bread again.”

Silberlicht says although his freshly baked breads may not hold a long shelf life like store bought breads do, the benefits of eating healthier breads are positively impactful. “You can even make other recipes like bread pudding or Fattoush,” a Middle Eastern salad calling for toasted bread.

A trip to the bi-weekly fresh food pop-up shop invokes impressions of a very different time. Imagine turning the pages to sections of American history and immersing your senses in a simpler life when food wasn’t too complicated, or over processed and cheapened with additives like pink slime, lye, sodium nitrite and nitrate, or other hard to pronounce synthetically created additives like butylated hydroxyanisole and hydroxytoluene. With this in mind, it isn’t hard to imagine the nostalgia the fresh bread, cheeses and meats inspire. This pop-up shop is undoubtedly special.

Add to that experience the imported cheeses and other Italian delicacies from Mike Formaggio who operates “The Cheese Island” or Isle De Formaggio. His import business brings him back to his roots in Utica every two weeks from his Westchester home. Formaggio started the pop-up shop two years ago selling his cheeses and Italian delicacies like olives, sardines, olive oils and pastas. Soon after, he was joined by The Kneady Baker and later Judy Bach with Bach Farms, offering pasture raised pork, grass fed beef and lamb. Bach says she’s proud of her farming methods. “The way we raise our animals…we’re bringing something fresh to your table that was humanely raised.”

Making bread and other healthier food options a good staple of the diet again may be a far reaching goal for many but not an impossible one if good fortune provides you access to a dedicated bread baker like The Kneady Baker, and his fellow shop keepers Mike and Judy, still upholding this aspect of our healthy food culture.

 

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