Blog Posts Related to the American Jewish Community

  • Recipe in Spotlight – Bebe’s Honey Cake

    Editor’s note: This post is part of a series highlighting recipes used by the White House Staff for the Jewish High Holidays.

    Honey cake typically eaten on Rosh Hashanah symbolizes the sweet year ahead. Some believe that the raisins and almonds added to the batter signify all the good things that will happen over the coming year. My grandma, Bebe, passed away last summer. Her baking and cooking were a source of pleasure for her whole family.

    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
    • 1 Tbsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 c. shortening
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3 large eggs
    • 3/4 cup honey
    • 1 cup triple-strength coffee
    • 1/4 cup raisins
    • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
    • Grated rind of one orange

    1. Sift together first 4 ingredients.

    2. Beat the shortening and sugar together until light and fluffy.

    3. Add the eggs, one at a time, alternately with the honey.

    4. Add the sifted dry ingredients, alternately with the coffee, beginning and ending with the flour. Do not overbeat.

    5. Fold the raisins, almonds and grated orange rind into the batter.

    6. Turn the batter into a greased 10" tube pan.

    7. Bake in a 325* oven for 1 hour until the cake tests done with a toothpick.

    8. Cool about 30 minutes on a rack. Remove the cake from the pan to complete cooling.

    9. Honey cake is an excellent dunker when stale.

    Eli Levine is a Presidential Management Fellow for Public Engagement at the White House Council on Environmental Quality

  • Recipe in Spotlight – Aliza’s Famous Honey Cake

    Editor’s note: This post is part of a series highlighting recipes used by the White House Staff for the Jewish High Holidays.

    This is a recipe that my Mom, Aliza Masserman, has been using for many years.  My Mom is Israeli and this is a recipe that, for our family, really symbolizes the melding between our Israeli and American Jewish roots.  It's always brought us a sweet year, so hopefully it'll do the same for other families across the country.  Shana Tova.

    • 2 eggs (jumbo)
    • ¾ cup honey
    • 7/8 cup sugar (between ¾ and 1 cup)
    • ½ cup oil plus 1 tbs.
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 2 cups flour (all purpose) plus 2 tbsp.
    • 2 tsp. cocoa
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 2 tsp. instant coffee
    • 1 cup hot water
    • ½ cup chopped walnuts (break into smaller pieces)
    • ½ cup raisins

    1. Pour raisins in bowl of hot water for 10 minutes then drain well and set aside.

    2. Mix instant coffee with 1-cup hot water.

    3. Add all other ingredients in a large missing bowl, including raisins and coffee. No need to whip egg whites separately. Mix all ingredients about 5 minutes in the mixer.

    4. Pour into a well-greased bundt pan. (Grease very well, can use pam spray).

    5. Bake at 350 degrees in the oven for about 40-45 minutes. Don’t over bake it! 

    6. Take out of the oven as soon as it’s done.   Note - the cake slides out easier when it’s still warm. 

    Michael Masserman is the Executive Director for Export Policy, Promotion & Strategy at the U.S. Department of Commerce

  • Recipe in Spotlight – Grandma’s Kuglof (Hungarian Coffee Cake)

    Editor’s note: This post is part of a series highlighting recipes used by the White House Staff for the Jewish High Holidays.

    This is a recipe that my great grandmother, taught my grandmother who taught my mother who taught me. It is a delicious cake and I use the batter for all of my cakes. I also make it the traditional way every year for Rosh Hashanah. One minor glitch- it used to rise 7 or 8 inches but since my mother passed away 9 years ago it hasn't risen more than 3 inches. If you get it to rise you should take a picture and email it to the American Jewish Outreach Team, by clicking on the “Contact Us” tab above! :)

    Grandma’s Kuglof Recipe

    • 13 tbsp butter
    • 1 ¾ cup sugar
    • 4 eggs, separated
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 1/3 cups plus additional ¼ cup of flour
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 3-4 tbsp cocoa powder (to taste)
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Butter a tube pan.
    3. Cream butter and sugar.
    4. Add the egg yolks to the creamed butter mixture and mix well.
    5. Whisk 1 1/3 cups flour and baking powder together in a separate bowl.
    6. Gradually beat milk and flour mixture into the butter mixture, alternating milk and flour.
    7. Beat the egg whites until stiff in a separate bowl.
    8. Fold ¼ cup flour into the egg whites.
    9. Fold egg whites into the batter.
    10. Mix 1/3 of the batter with cocoa in a separate bowl.
    11. Fill the tube pan, alternating half of the white batter with the cocoa batter.
    12. Bake for 50-60 minutes to an hour, until toothpick comes out clean.


    Shira Sternberg is an Outreach Specialist at the Environmental Protection Agency

  • Recipe in Spotlight – Aunt Leona’s Kugel

    Editor’s note: This post is part of a series highlighting recipes used by the White House Staff for the Jewish High Holidays. 

    My Aunt Leona was 10 years older than my mother.  In fact, she got to name my mother, Dolores, because by the time my mother came along my immigrant grandparents, Sam and Molly, were running a dress shop and tailoring business in Washington Heights, Manhattan, near or on Dyckman Street.  They had survived immigration from Eastern Europe, separately; they met in NYC.  They fought in and lived through WWI; the death of a son; another daughter 10 years or more older than Leona; a move from the lower East Side up to Washington Heights, and then came my mother.  They were probably a little tired. No? So, when you asked a 10 year old girl born and raised in Washington Heights, Manhattan, for a name for her brand new baby sister in 1931, that 10 year old is going to say “Dolores,” naming my mother for the STAR of the day: Dolores Del Rio.

    Aunt Leona made this kugel for all holiday meals that I recall.  I don’t remember ever specifically asking her about it or sitting with her when she made it; I don’t even really remember the first time I made it - it’s just always been a part of my family. A sweet kugel for a sweet new year!

    Aunt Leona’s Kugel

    • 1 package of Egg Noodles (the really broad ones)
    • 1 container of cottage cheese (small curd is the best) – 12 or 16 ounces depending on how much you like cottage cheese-y-ness
    • 4 eggs, beaten
    •  ½ cup or a cup of sugar, depending on how sweet you like your kugel
    • A pinch of salt
    • A sprinkling of vanilla
    • Raisins (black or white or both)
    • Butter
    • Brown sugar
    • Cinnamon
    1.  Cook the Egg Noodles until done. Drain and rinse.
    2.  In a separate bowl, mix the cottage cheese, eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla.
    3. Mix the cooked Egg Noodles in with the cheese mixture.
    4. Add raisins into the eggs and cheese- it doesn’t really matter how many as long as everyone gets some raisins in their serving.
    5. Place kugel in a heavily buttered baking dish – your call as to size since it will depend: do you like a tall, thick creamy kugel or do you like a flatter, shorter, crispier kugel?
    6. Before baking, sprinkle brown sugar and butter crumbled together and cinnamon on top of the kugel.
    7. Cook until done at 350 degrees. (Your house should smell like a home when it’s done.)


    Sarah Bittleman is Senior Advisor to the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture

  • President Obama's Rosh Hashanah Greeting

    At sundown this Sunday, the Jewish community here in the United States and all over the world will celebrate the start of the new year. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur mark a time of prayer and self-reflection, and offers Americans of all faiths an opportunity to focus on what unites us instead of what divides us, to work together to make this a more perfect union and to continue the work of repairing the world.

    Watch President Obama's Rosh Hashanah Greeting here.

  • Recipe in Spotlight – Oma’s Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake

    Editor’s note: This post is part of a series highlighting recipes used by the White House Staff for the Jewish High Holidays.

    Every year, my grandmother, “Oma,” is showered with accolades for her triple chocolate bundt cake. All guests pay homage to the many difficult hours of preparation that must go into such an ancient, secret and complex family recipe. She graciously thanks them for their compliments, and always explains how happy she is to take the time to prepare this labor of love.

    For the first time, she has allowed us to share the truth – this is about the easiest recipe out there!

    Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake (as transcribed by “Oma” Rychter)

    ·         1 package chocolate cake

    ·         1 package, 4-oz size, instant chocolate pudding mix

    ·         1-3/4 cups whole milk

    ·         2 eggs

    ·         1 pack (12 oz.) chocolate chips

    1.      Combine all in big bowl and hand mix until well blended (about 2 minutes).

    2.      Pour into well-greased (I grease by hand) bundt pan.

    3.      Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly pressed. Do not overbake!!!

    4.      Cool 30 minutes in pan. Pray fervently and turn upside down to remove from pan. Finish cooling on rack, right side up, of course.

    Josh Friedmann is Special Assistant for the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

  • Recipe in Spotlight – Sharon’s Apple Cake

    Editor’s note: This post is part of a series highlighting recipes used by the White House Staff for the Jewish High Holidays.

    The high holidays are a time for family and friends to come together to mark the beginning of the Jewish New Year. Back home in Atlanta, dinner for the first night of Rosh Hashanah would not be the same without my mom’s best friend Sharon Karpel’s apple cake.

    Sharon’s Apple Cake

    Group 1

    • 4 cups peeled and thinly sliced apples
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 1/2 cup oil
    • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
    • 2 eggs, well beaten
    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

    Group 2

    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp. allspice
    • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9x13 baking pan.
    2. In a large bowl, mix the sugar with the apples and let sit for a few minutes.
    3. Add the remaining ingredients in Group 1 to the apple-sugar mixture.
    4. In a separate bowl, mix all of the ingredients in Group 2 together, and then slowly add to Group 1 bowl.
    5. Pour the mixture into the baking pan and bake for 50 -60 minutes.
    6. Let cool, and then cut the cake into squares and serve.

    Danielle Borrin is the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs & Deputy Director of Public Engagement in the Office of the Vice President.

  • Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the Terrorist Attacks at the Munich Olympic Games

    Friends below please find a statement by the President as read by United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom Lou Sussman at a memorial ceremony held for the victims of the terrorist attacks forty years ago at the Munich Olympic Games. The ceremony was hosted by the Israeli Olympic Committee at the Israeli Embassy in London.

    Today, the United States is proud to stand in solemn remembrance with the Israeli people to remember the eleven Israeli athletes who were killed forty years ago. The passage of time cannot dim the memory of the hope and promise that those members of the Israeli Olympic team embodied, just as time does not dull the horror at the brutal terrorist attack that took their lives.
    The Israeli citizens who were lost stood for what is best about their nation, and the Olympic movement. They excelled at wrestling and weightlifting, fencing and running.  They were citizens of a young democracy in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people. And let us always remember that they were fathers and sons, husbands and brothers, and their loss left an empty space in families, communities, and a country that will never forget them.
    While the United States supported a moment of silence in their honor, we welcome any effort to recall the terrible loss that was suffered in Munich, and the lives of those who were lost. Let us rededicate ourselves to a world that represents the hopes of those athletes, and not the hate of those who took their lives. Let us support the families who have endured forty years without their loved ones. And let us reaffirm the bonds between the United States, Israel, and all those around the world who strive for a world of peace and justice. 
    Jarrod Bernstein is the Director of Jewish Outreach in the Office of Public Engagement.