who's in the kitchen

On our Chanukah cruise, am yisrael echad


Lots has happened since I wrote my last article on the second day of a 12 day cruise. On the ship for the first three nights of Chanukah, we were almost certain that we would not be allowed to light a menorah anywhere on board. But listed in the daily schedule was a self-led Chanukah lighting in a meeting room, between 5 and 6pm. Not sure what to expect, Jerry and I were pleasantly surprised when we entered. There was an electric menorah set on the table along with kosher wine and dozens of plastic wine glasses. Let’s give the Norwegian Cruise Line credit; after all, Jews are usually drinking wine during holiday celebrations, so they weren’t far off.

Within 15 minutes there were over 70 people in the room. Some Orthodox, some not, some who hadn’t lit candles since they were little kids. Everyone came together. Jerry waited about 20 minutes to be sure that all the stragglers who wanted to be part of the candle lighting were present. He then lit the menorah and recited the brachot. After, he asked if others wanted to light a menorah themselves. A few were hesitant, as their Hebrew was a little broken, and they didn’t have a yarmulka. Jerry took off his baseball cap (he had a yarmulke underneath) and lent it to those who didn’t have one. For those who needed help, he guided them through the brachot.

On the second night of Chanukah, Jerry came prepared with seven extra yarmulkas. He brought no dress slacks for dinner, no decent shoes, but he overcompensated with the yarmulkas. The second night brought more people and the kitchen staff caught on and served kosher doughnuts and potato latkes. Of course everyone fell in love with Jerry, especially the over-80 crowd.

By the third night, there were well over 100 people packed into the room, it was standing room only. Right before the candle lighting started, a non-Jewish Asian women came into the room and politely asked if she could witness the lighting of the Chanukah candles and listen to the accompanying Chanukah songs which she heard were beautiful. Jerry and a handful of Orthodox men leading the singing joyfully welcomed her.

Without warning, an apparently religiously devout women, standing in the front, demanded that the Asian woman leave the room. She asserted that she couldn’t stay, because she was not Jewish. Another man, who was Jewish, angrily yelled that he too was leaving, as this was not the way Jewish people should behave. What began as a beautiful moment began to deteriorate in divisive hostility, recriminations and accusations. The non-Jewish woman, in tears, left the room embarrassed, feeling rejected by her Jewish fellow travelers.

The Asian woman, it turns out, had visited Israel and was taken with the Jewish customs. When Jerry saw the man storm out of the room and the non-Jewish woman begin to leave, he ran after them and said to the man, ”You did the right thing and now you must return, as you did a kiddish Hashem.”

Jerry then deeply apologized to the woman for the inappropriate manner in which she was treated and said, “You are our most honored guest,” and insisted that she was the most important person in the room. He then loudly responded assertively to the irate woman, that if the non-Jewish woman wasn’t qualified to witness the Chanukah service, then he too wasn’t sufficiently Jewish to stay in the room and would leave along with everyone else. Everyone began to clap and cheer in agreement and the candle lighting commenced in peace.

After the candle lighting and Maoatzur, Jerry thought it would be a nice idea to sing the Hatikvah. An Israeli woman didn’t like the idea because many people weren’t standing, and she began to scream, “You can’t sing the Hatiktvah because everyone is not standing.” Jerry explained to her that was because some were elderly and didn’t hear well. Within a minute, all in the room were standing and singing the Israeli national anthem. I had tears in my eyes, as I remembered my dear friend, Debbie Shafran’s dad, Harry Engleman, a”h. He used to be incensed, when at Holocaust remembrance commemorations, or any other Jewish assemblies, when they didn’t play the Hatikvah. I thought he would be looking down at this eclectic group of Jews from all over the globe, standing together singing the Hatikvah. Jerry, standing all the way in the front, nodded to me, all the way in the back … we both were thinking the same thing.

And talking about cruises, here is a deliciously decadent recipe from the Holland America cruise line.

Holland America’s Bread and Butter Pudding With Vanilla Sauce


For the pudding:

1 quart milk

6 eggs, beaten

3 egg yolks, beaten

6 oz sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1-1/2 lbs day-old bread

3 oz butter, melted

4 oz raisins

For the sauce:

1 pint milk

1 pint heavy cream

1 vanilla bean

8 oz sugar

9 oz egg yolks


If you don’t have custard cups, serve it family style in a large casserole dish. This recipe yields 15 servings of bread pudding and three pints of sauce. To make a rum sauce, add 1/4 cup of rum per every pint of vanilla sauce.

1. To make the custard, combine milk, eggs, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla; mix well.

2. To prepare the bread, cut in cubes, drizzle with butter and toast in the oven.

3. Combine custard, bread and raisins; fill buttered custard cups.

4. Bake in a water bath in a 325-degree oven for 45 minutes or until custard is set.

5. To make the sauce, heat milk, heavy cream, vanilla bean (cut in half lengthwise) and half of the sugar until it boils. Remove the vanilla.

6. Combine egg yolks and the rest of the sugar, then temper with part of the boiling milk while stirring constantly.

7. Pour tempered mixture into the remaining milk and return to the heat.

8. Stirring constantly, cook to 180 degrees. Remove immediately from stove and strain into a bowl.

9. Cool using an ice bath — simply place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with icy water, being careful not to let the sauce get wet.