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Kosher Dinner planner values reviving faith in her family’s life


Ellie and Lilly will sing at the Kosher Dinner, which their mother, Hyphen Huffmanparent is helping plan.

Brad and Hyphen Huffmanparent grew up non-observant, non-kosher homes in neighboring Jewish communities in New Jersey, but they decided when they had children they would be observant Jews and have a kosher kitchen.

Their motivation is because Brad is the grandson of two people who escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s—his grandfather at 17 in 1936 and his grandmother at 15 in 1938 before Kristallnacht.  They first came to New York City and then settled in Fairlawn, N.J., a community with a large Jewish population.

The oldest of Brad and Hyphen’s 10-year-old twin daughters, Ellie, is named after her great-grandmother.  Lily is named after another grandmother. Their other children are Bazzy, 7, and Adeline, 4.

Hyphen is chair of publicity for Temple Beth Shalom’s 2013 Kosher Dinner, one of many ways she now immerses herself in the life of her faith community.

Ellie and Lily will be one of the performing ensembles, singing a cappella Hebrew songs they learned at camp, some songs from musicals written by Jewish composers and traditional blessings.

Kosher Dinner is March 10

Temple Beth Shalom’s 72nd Annual Kosher Dinner will be served from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, March 10, at the temple, 1322 E. 30th Ave.  The event includes a kosher beef brisket dinner with appetizers, traditional Jewish side dishes and desserts. 

While guests wait to enter the dining hall, they have a taste of Jewish entertainment that reflects the culture, faith and life of people in the Inland Northwest’s Jewish community.

For information, call 747-3304.

They are also baking cookies for the kosher bake sale.

“The year we married, we saw a movie about a family lighting Shabbat candles and saying the blessings,” Hyphen said.  “It struck me that after all his grandparents had gone through, when we had children, they had a right to their heritage.”

So the Huffmanparents began going to the synagogue.  Now they attend services Fridays and Saturdays.

“We decided to expose our children to everything Jewish, not just a set of beliefs.  We want them to gain connection to their family and history,” said Hyphen.

So they light candles, say the same blessings and hold to the strong sense of ethics their great-grandparents had. 

They home school their children, plus send them to Sunday school and Wednesday Hebrew school at Temple Beth Shalom.  Ellie and Lily will do their B’Nei Mitzvah next year.

Hyphen did not do a Bat Mitzvah, but has been learning Hebrew with her daughters.

“I feel I have a place.  Lighting the candles and saying the blessings every day reminds me I’m part of something larger,” she said.

Dorothy-Ann, called Hyphen because her name is hyphenated, grew up in Hackensack, and Brad in Elmwood Park, N.J.

They lived in Maryland, where Brad joined the Air Force two days after she earned a bachelor’s degree in media studies in 2001 at Washington College at Chestertown, Md.  They lived in Oklahoma before moving two years ago to Spokane.  Brad is now a civilian worker at Fairchild Air Force Base.

Although Hyphen grew up attending a performing arts school through third grade, a Catholic school from fourth through eighth grade, and a public high school, she decided to home school her children so she could teach about Judaism, as well as school lessons.

Ellie is learning Hebrew and reading the Torah.  Lily said she says blessings and that it’s easier to keep kosher because they are home schooled.

“I try to integrate faith in with their school lessons,” said Hyphen.

Because she did not grow up with kosher food, she has had to learn about kosher cooking. 

It means not eating pork or shellfish and not cooking dairy and meat together.  A kosher kitchen has one set of utensils just for dairy and other utensils just for meat, she said.

Hyphen finds many options for kosher cooking.  A cheeseburger can be hamburger with soy cheese or a veggie burger and dairy cheese. 

They eat fish and chicken, kosher hot dogs, soy options, beef pepperoni, turkey bacon, and plenty of vegetables and fruit.

Helping with the Kosher Dinner, Hyphen has been impressed how most members of the synagogue volunteer to prepare for the event.

“There are not many Jews in the area, so it’s something everyone can do as a community,” she said.  “With it being the 72nd Kosher Dinner, some who are now grandparents have been volunteering every year since they were children.”

Not only is Hyphen meeting more people in the Jewish community, but also in doing publicity she is learning more about the community and its media. 

Hyphen also likes the Kosher Dinner because it’s a time to invite friends who are not Jewish to come to Temple Beth Shalom and learn about the faith, culture and traditions.

“It’s an opportunity to educate the community as we sit, eat, talk and share the experience of a kosher dinner,” Hyphen said.

For information, call 747-3304 or email or visit           

Copyright © March 2013 - The Fig Tree