In 2006, I was eating lunch with my mom on a bench outside of Back Alley’s on Martha’s Vineyard. As what often happens when we visit that store, my mom saw someone she knew. “Emily, I want to introduce you to Joan Nathan.” Joan, the journalist and author of numerous Jewish cookbooks, started chatting with us about an article she was researching. She explained that she was writing about Jewish dumplings and unique ways people have adapted them for various holidays.

Everett Passover seder

Rabbi Gendler leading seder

I told her about my uncle, Rabbi Everett Gendler, and how he makes whole-wheat matzo balls. I explained that he used to grow his own wheat, used it to make his own matzah, which he baked in a special oven in his garage, and then ground it up to make the matzo balls. Like most people who hear a story about Rabbi Gendler, she was intrigued. My mom told Joan that she would send her Everett’s contact information, and we all went our separate ways.

A couple of months later, an article featuring the story about Rabbi Gendler’s homemade whole-wheat matzo balls and an accompanying recipe made it to page F5 of the New York Times.

New Year, New Dumpling image

Whole-Wheat Matzo Ball Recipe