Break-Fast Reflections
Yom KippurCommunity

Break-Fast Reflections

Flora Rosefsky on the dairy meals of yesteryear, eating in shifts, and her Bubby’s famous homemade sponge cake.

A traditional break-fast dairy menu includes lox and bagels with orange juice and hard-boiled eggs.
A traditional break-fast dairy menu includes lox and bagels with orange juice and hard-boiled eggs.

A dining room table that sat 16, plus an extra table at the end of the large dining room to seat another four, easily accommodated the 40 family guests who came to our home in Binghamton, New York to break the fast. Just as many metro Atlanta families I’ve met since moving here in 1995, who have a large local mishpocha, the Rosefsky extended family created a very big circle of in-laws, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

However, because our extended family’s synagogue affiliations were not the same, we ate in shifts. Temple Concord members, whose Reform services ended earliest, arrived first to start eating the dairy breakfast foods set out on the long buffet. Just as they were finishing their bagels, noodle kugel, blintzes, baked casserole or cheese soufflé, plus the sour cream coffee cakes with coffee, they’d need to get up from their chairs to let those who belonged to our Conservative synagogue, Temple Israel, take over their seats.

After returning from Neilah in 2009, Bernie Rosefsky blows the shofar as brother-in-law Allan Slovin looks on.

My husband Bernie, who never missed the Neilah ending service, arrived with that group. Those who fasted all day first drank orange juice, followed by eating a hardboiled egg. As people finished eating, they went off to sit around the living room or our family room to visit. As the evening wore on, close to 8 p.m., the Orthodox contingent from Beth David synagogue walked in, the last group to break their fast. Sometimes we had friends of our college-aged children join us, especially Ellen’s friends, who attended Cornell only an hour away.

When we were married in the early 1960s, the original break-fasts for our Binghamton family actually took place at Bernie’s Bubby’s small home, always eating in shifts. Somehow, everyone fit themselves into the space to enjoy Bubby’s break-fast menu and her famous homemade sponge cake. When Bubby Bluma died, I offered to take over the break-fast tradition, thinking the younger generation would do it on a rotating basis. But every year, it always took place at our home. Since moving to Atlanta, the menu has remained the same, but with much smaller quantities and fewer guests.

And now, with the pandemic and us getting older, we will put out the bagels and lox, and one hot casserole with a coffee cake, inviting our two daughters here in metro Atlanta with their families. And instead of Bernie going to our synagogue for Neilah and arriving home late, we will partake of the closing service livestreamed online.

Mollie Rosefsky Spaugh decorates the porch for Sukkot after break-fast in 2008.

Although not food-related, another family Yom Kippur tradition was to invite our break-fast guests to help decorate our sukkah after completing the meal. Even here in Atlanta, when living on our second-floor apartment, we extended a roof on the covered porch using tension rods, adding plastic grapes with lights, and colorful silkscreened artistic banners. We don’t do this any longer, since moving to the first floor a few years ago, but will fulfill the commandment to dwell in one by going to AA or another sukkah in our Toco Hills neighborhood to sit in one.

Another thing we used to do was to pass around the shofar for anyone who wanted to try to blow it, as the last long sound to end the old year, and to begin anew. Yet, we still enjoy having a dairy menu while being surrounded by some family members for Yom Kippur’s break-fast tradition.

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