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Jewish Food Festival a tradition in taste

Fill up on homemade cabbage rolls, a Jewish delicacy that takes four days of preparation and baking, at the 31st annual Jewish Food Festival on Nov. 11-12 in Corpus Christi. Photo courtesy Mike Hiatt

Join the Congregation Beth Israel for the 31st annual Jewish Food Festival on Nov. 11-12, where you can fill up on matzah ball soup, cabbage rolls and other traditional Jewish foods.

Rikki Schmitchel has been involved with the festival for 21 years and has been a co-chair for 10. The event has grown each year and now attracts more than 3,000 people.

“Most of the food is homemade,” said Schmitchel, who owns and operates ABC Irrigation with her husband. “The cabbage rolls are homemade, and it’s a four-day process that takes the help of fourteen to twenty people.”

Food and fun begin at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11, and include a silent auction, raffle prizes, a vintage shop and more. Los Klezmeros will fill the air with Klezmer, traditional festive music that was started in Europe in the 1800s.

Bids on silent auction items can be made at the festival or online at Grab items ranging in value from $150 to $600, such as a sterling silver Italian necklace and earring set or two outdoor security cameras.

“If you bid on an item, you get a text message if someone bids above you asking — do you want to outbid them?” Schmitchel explained. “Last year was the first year we tried it, and it was a huge success.”

Shops set up include The Vintage Shop, which will feature hundreds of pieces of high-end purses and jewelry donated by congregants.

The Judaica Shop will be stocked with Hanukkah items: beautiful candlesticks, menorahs and more.

The Sweet Shop sells traditional pastries such as rugelach, strudel, challah and more. Almost everything in The Sweet Shop is cooked by the congregants — except for the black and white cookies, which are shipped in from the Brooklyn Terminal Market.

Also from Brooklyn, the pickles.

Half Sours were a popular pickle choice for Brooklyn’s Jewish culture in the early 1900s. They were made for the local community, and today, the only remaining suppliers of Half Sours come from Brooklyn.

“I’m not a pickle person, but I eat these pickles,” Schmitchel said. “They’re a wonderful half-sour. There’s nothing you can get in a jar down here like it. We usually sell out. We have a lot of members from New York, so they get a taste of home when they get the pickles and cookies.”

On Sunday, Nov. 12, the festival continues at 11 a.m. with the full menu plus a brunch serving lox and bagels. Entertainment includes a clown, magicians and face painters.

Congregation Beth Israel is located at 4402 Saratoga Blvd. in Corpus Christi. For more information, visit

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