When I look back on the last couple of years, sometimes I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. Kaufman’s, my mom Judy, the staff, myself – there have been some enormous changes and life lessons… What friendship means… how to give up some dreams and create others… the value of health, friends and family. And as we get older, the losses seem to become more frequent – probably because we know more people and, let’s face it – we’re all aging. Over the last few years I have lost a number of people I cared for deeply – it acts as a reminder that we all only have a limited time in to say what we want and need
Some time ago a woman came into the store to special order 3 round loaves of bread to ship to her kids in New York and Ohio. “Shipping bread to New York?”, I asked thinking of all the fantastic bakeries I knew in New York City. “It’s a tradition” she explained, “My father was a survivor of the camps. He often said that during the war he dreamed of having a round loaf of bread big enough to always be able to feed his family and friends. When I was a child” she continued “every year for his birthday we came to Kaufman’s to buy a big, round loaf of rye bread as the core of our meal on his birthday – never anyplace else.” Every year they came to rejoice in his survival and build a tradition. Today she buys those breads and ships them to each of her children on her father’s birthday to commemorate, celebrate and remember his life.
And my thoughts turned to Maury Kaufman, the man who opened Kaufman’s Bagel & Delicatessen. He too, was a survivor. I wondered – was that the essence of Kaufman’s so he’d never be hungry again and always be able to feed his family? I never asked him – it had never dawned on me that might be the reason behind this business. I adored Maury – he was like an extra grandpa I was blessed with later in life. I didn’t know him as well as I would have liked and only for a few years; he died a few years ago in Jerusalem after a long battle.
Since our fire in 2011, I think of Maury Kaufman and my dad Arnold more than ever – especially when I have difficult decisions to make – and the past few years have been full of those. I have come to a better understanding that Kaufman’s is about far more than the food – although that’s a very big piece. But it’s also about a sense of community, a place to meet, see old friends, and comfort; it was the outpouring of support from the community that kept us moving
forward while we were closed. Kaufman’s, through the visions of both Maury Kaufman and Arnold Dworkin is about