Wichita temple’s Deli Day offers traditional Jewish food

11/08/2013 7:17 AM

11/08/2013 7:19 AM

New Yorkers have it made.

Any time they want, they can walk a few blocks to a Jewish deli and feast on corned beef sandwiches, latkes and matzo ball soup.

Here in Wichita, though, where the Jewish population is relatively small, there’s only one day a year where such a feast is available.

Deli Day, a longstanding tradition at Congregation Emanu-El, 7011 E. Central, will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

For $14, diners can choose from a corned beef sandwich dinner or a brisket dinner, each served with a variety of traditional Jewish deli sides, such as matzo ball soup, latkes (Jewish potato pancakes) and challah (a sweet egg bread). The brisket is cooked using a recipe handed down by the mother of congregant member and Deli Day volunteer Scott Redler, a co-founder of the Freddy’s Frozen Custard chain.

Traditional Jewish deli food is craved by many, said David Feiertag, president of Congregation Emanu-El. But finding it locally is a challenge. The Jewish population in Wichita is around 2,000 people, he said, and although pastrami and corned beef are available here, that’s the extent of it.

“I lived in New York for 20 years before coming back to Kansas,” Feiertag said. “That’s one of the things I really miss. I’d always go to Katz’s Deli. I loved their pastrami and their corned beef and brisket – all the foods of the Eastern European Jews.”

Deli Day has been part of the Emanu-El temple for years. It was started by the sisterhood at the temple and initially was named “Food-A-Rama.”

Volunteers from the congregation begin cooking the various components of the dinner in September, and it takes 75 of them to staff the one-day event. Each year, they serve about 1,000 people, Feiertag said, the majority of whom are not Jewish.

The event is the temple’s biggest fundraiser of the year.

“It’s one of the best things our congregation does because it gives everyone a task and yet it gives us a chance to socialize at the same time,” he said.

In addition to the dinners, visitors can shop for take-home baked goods, such as rugelach and mandelbrot.

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