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This chef, born next to a Minsk matzah factory, is providing meals to Holocaust survivors

(JTA) — Escalating up, Passover was normally a unique time of 12 months for David Teyf.

It wasn’t just about the getaway. It was also the stories his loved ones would explain to about the matzah factory they employed to function guiding his grandfather’s residence in Minsk prior to they left Soviet Belarus in 1979. Teyf, who was born in that dwelling, was 5 when they remaining that money city.

Now a effective chef, Teyf has number of memories of the matzah manufacturing facility. Nevertheless he has discovered himself wondering about it a lot more usually lately as he cooks and provides weekly Shabbat meals, and far more a short while ago Passover meals, for Holocaust survivors living in New York Town. He started cooking the foods just about a yr back, in portion motivated by his have grandparents, all 4 of whom were Holocaust survivors.

“If my grandparents ended up alive, who would acquire care of them?” Teyf imagined to himself. “A Holocaust survivor who’s 90 many years previous, who’s getting treatment of them? That is when I reported to myself, I have to do a thing.”

Teyf is 1 of numerous in the restaurant and situations industries who uncovered by themselves unable to do the job when the pandemic started previous spring. Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Residing Memorial to the Holocaust, in which he runs LOX at Cafe Bergson, closed to readers past March. So did the 2nd Ave Deli, where by Teyf is the govt chef of the next-flooring dining place. Shortly the weddings, bar and bat mitzvahs and other occasions he was established to cater for the rest of the 12 months ended up canceled, much too.

“I was occupied 24/6,” Teyf mentioned of his pre-pandemic schedule. “Then when the pandemic started I went from currently being occupied 24/6 to almost nothing, certainly very little.”

It was through 1 of the prolonged walks through Central Park that crammed his recently vacant days that he begun considering about how his survivor grandparents may have gotten by means of the pandemic.

Teyf contacted the president and CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, Jack Kliger, and they reopened the cafe’s kitchen with a handful of personnel soon following Passover 2020. With some fiscal assist and names equipped by nearby corporations that give providers to Holocaust survivors, Teyf and his staff commenced cooking and delivering Shabbat foods to the survivors at their houses all more than New York City. Teyf centered on common meals like challah rolls, gefilte fish and kugel but attempted to make the foodstuff a minimal healthier, applying a lot less salt on account of the survivors’ ages.

He experienced developed up up listening to about how his grandparents experienced starved during the war. That encouraged a slogan for his existing venture: “No survivor should really at any time go hungry once more.”

Teyf and his staff do all the deliveries by themselves, driving to survivors’ homes throughout the five boroughs. Ordinarily they ring the doorbell and depart the meal at the door in get to restrict any COVID risk to the survivor. But at times a survivor opens the doorway whilst the deliverer is still standing there.

“They’re incredibly grateful and their smiles signify the planet to me,” Teyf said. “And they communicate Russian, so they give me their blessing.”

Even as additional and extra men and women are vaccinated and the dangers associated with the pandemic minimize for the vaccinated aged persons spending time exterior their properties, Teyf isn’t arranging to close his job anytime shortly. In fact he’s seeking for far more names, hoping to incorporate to his list of about 70 survivors throughout the 5 boroughs, where an approximated 20,000 survivors stay.

The Shabbat foods and deliveries remind Teyf of his grandfather and the risks he took to put together matzah for the Jews of Minsk — a reward that makes the time and price associated in his Shabbat foods challenge nicely worth it.

“When I do these meals and when we prepare dinner and provide,” he stated, “I constantly see my grandfather smiling down. I truly feel him.”