Sharing kosher recipes in a fundraising cookbook is a great way to bring a school community together for a good cause. And if you self-publish the cookbook and sell it for two to four times the cost, you easily can raise $5,000 — or even $50,000 — for a first-print run.
That’s what the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy in Livingston expected would happen 22 years ago, when two parents set out to take charity cookbooks to a new level. Co-editors Sandra Blank and Susie Fishbein compiled “The Kosher Palette,” which includes, according to its subtitle, “Easy and Elegant Modern Kosher Cooking,” an engaging collection of well-tested recipes.
“The Kosher Palette” fast became a kosher chef’s best friend. The spiral-bound recipe collection sold 80,000 copies and brought in $1.5 million for the modern Orthodox school. A follow-up edition subsequently cleared another $1 million.
But the $27.95 books ultimately dropped out of print, and used copies went for steep prices.
For those cooks who longed for an unused version of the original edition, the Jewish publishing house ArtScroll has come to the rescue. The company is re-issuing the book, which has become a staple in kosher households all over the world. The new edition features nutritional advice, healthier alternatives, and details on ingredient swaps.
Both Ms. Fishbein and Ms. Blank, who lived in Livingston when they compiled “The Kosher Palette,” — Ms. Blank still lives there — say they are grateful that the Kushner Hebrew Academy keeps benefitting from the sales.
“It really was a fundraising game changer, not only in the fundraising market, but really in the Jewish kosher cookbook market,” said Ms. Blank, who was a stay-at-home mom at the time “The Kosher Palette” was conceived. “Each recipe went through a triple testing process, and anybody in the school community was asked to submit recipes.”
Donated services and advertisers of food brands offset the cost of producing the book, which was self-published. Ninety percent of revenue went to the day school, Ms. Blank said.
Both Ms. Blank and Ms. Fishbein had an interest in cooking back then and and were single-minded about their fundraising mission. “We wanted to take on this project and make it extraordinary,” Ms. Blank said. “It really was the trendsetter.”
The book is richly illustrated with more than 70-full color photographs to complement more than 300 recipes. Favorites are the mesclun salad and rosemary London broil. This not your great-grandmother’s heavy Ashkenazi fare.
“It was really a remarkable project to be a part of and literally, so many people have raised their families on this book,” Ms. Blank said. “We did ours. It’s so gratifying when people say, ‘gosh, this is my go-to book.’ A younger generation knows the book from their parents’ house but haven’t been able to access it for their own home.”
“The Kosher Palette” catapulted one of its editors — Susie Fishbein – into the limelight of Jewish cooking celebrity. She went on to publish her own series of nine cookbooks, “Kosher by Design,” that have sold half a million copies. She leads culinary tours to Israel and Italy. “That cookbook launched me into the career I’ve been in for the last 20 years,” she said.
“I have gratitude for ‘The Kosher Palette,’ an organizational project, for turning me on to a career that’s been the most incredible experience and ride of my life.”
Ms. Fishbein remembers seeing thousands of books stacked up in Ms. Bland’s garage after it first came out. “I set up an office on the floor of my bedroom,” she said. “And while I was nursing my babies, I was selling the cookbooks to bookstores and running credit cards. Sandra packaged the books in her house and her husband, Howard, would take a load to the post office.”
ArtScroll now will do that work.
“My goal was to connect the school to ArtScroll,” Ms. Fishbein said. “Back in the day when we did ‘The Kosher Palette,’ not every house had two working parents. People were able to give more time to community projects and that book was definitely a community project from beginning to end.”
You can preorder the anniversary edition of “The Kosher Palette” for $34.19 here.