“Hava” Cow at Hava NaGrilla by Rachel Ellis and Brittney Baltimore

June 10, 2010 at 3:03 pm Leave a comment

Photos by Brittney Baltimore and Rachel Ellis

What do you get when you put two rabbis, a cow, a fire, and lots of enthusiasm together in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania? Summer interns Rachel Ellis and Brittney Baltimore set out on a road trip Sunday, June 6th to find out.

The Second Annual “Hava NaGrilla, Kosher BBQ Contest and Family Fun Day” brings together 500 barbecuers and barbecue fans from Philadelphia and beyond.

But if it’s barbecue, where’s the pig? Traditional barbecue from the South is all about pork, so Jewish barbecue enthusiasts need to be inventive. With no pig in sight, Jews barbecue other foods: chicken, ribs, and by far the most popular meat of the day … brisket.

Throughout the day some 15 teams competed to produce the best barbecue. Each team designed their own decorations based on a theme. Some highlights include: teams “Chag Wild,” “Fleishig Flashback,” “Glatt Meat?” and “BBQ 911 – Where’s the Fire?”

Clever names and amusing tent decorations made the day fun and family-friendly. But a kosher barbecue is not a kosher barbecue without a true love affair with meat. Just ask the “Hebrew Nationals,” who took home the most prized trophy of the day for Best Brisket. Their golden calf statue will surely hold a special place in their homes and hearts.

winning the golden calf

Two rabbis oversaw the event to ensure kashrut, to verify that all ingredients are certified kosher.

This way, the event was appropriate for Jews of all levels of religious observance. When asked her thoughts on a kosher BBQ, Adeona Rosin of Cherry Hill, NJ stated “I think it’s very important to have things in the Jewish community that everyone can partake in.” And of course, after contestants submit their food for judging, event attendees can taste their masterpieces.

Live music, a TastyKake eating contest*, and other carnival activities rounded out the day of enjoyment. Hava NaGrilla is a truly great place to be Jewish. The kosher culinary delight of barbecue brings the community together through friendly competition and family activities. According to Eric Wischnia of Elkins Park, PA, food has always been a part of Jewish culture and traditions. Eric summed it up well: “We have traditions that are built around the food that we make. …In addition to all of the other things that we’ve passed along, food is really, really important.” So get out your grill and get fired up for Hava NaGrilla 3 next summer!

Hava NaGrilla benefits Golden Slipper Club & Charities. Golden Slipper is a charitable organization that raises money to fund a children’s camp, a college scholarship fund, a center for senior citizens, as well as many other initiatives.

*Tastykakes became kosher (with much fanfare!) in 2004.


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