Elizabeth Gaynes: Remembering Judy Meisel

Yesterday would have been Judy Meisel‘s 92nd birthday. If you did not know Judy, who passed away late last year, she was a Holocaust survivor, speaker and Civil Rights advocate, and Judy was also the Director of Beit HaYeladim Preschool at CBB for many years (click here to read about Judy’s extraordinary life).

I met Judy when my children were very young and we bonded instantly. Following her retirement, Judy would come to visit BHY to prepare challah and other tasty baked goods with the preschoolers, and we would sometimes go on “field trips to Judy and Fred’s house.”

One year, Judy and I prepared hundreds of rugelach for Sarah House as a Mitzvah Day activity. After that, we had many baking sessions at her home and in the CBB kitchen – she called baking her “therapy” – and she always sent me away with extra treats, packed in a recycled tin container. Judy’s chocolate chip merengues were my favorite.

For the past several years I would call Judy on her birthday and we would chat about life in Santa Barbara, life in Minneapolis, CBB and the preschool, our families and inevitably, whatever we were cooking or baking at the moment. Judy was like a grandmother to me, she had the best questions, and the best advice, given straight, with no apologies. I am forever grateful for her no nonsense approach to what is good and right in this world.

If you were lucky enough to join Judy and Fred for one of their famous Shabbat dinners in their Goleta home, you may remember Judy’s mock chicken liver pate – the quintessential pre-Shabbat or holiday appetizer. I am so grateful to David Teton-Landis for filming this delightful segment with Judy many years ago. [Download the recipe here]

The kitchen helpers are our very own Richard Silver, Gail Teton-Landis and Renee Golan. Watching Judy in action in her kitchen brings tears of joy to my eyes.  May Judy’s memory be a blessing.

Elizabeth Gaynes is a long time community member and serves as Executive Director of CBB.