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Hero of the Knish: Mrs. Gussie Schwebel

1942 Schwebel NYSun

What a thrill to discuss the knish derring-do of Mrs. Gussie Schwebel, baker extraordinaire, at the Tenement Museum this week with Forward archivist Chana Pollack.

In early 1942, after Mrs. Schwebel appeared in the New York Sun, she sent a clipping of the article along with a note to…. yup, Eleanor Roosevelt. In our conversation in front of an audience, Chana suggested that perhaps Mrs. Schwebel had been inspired by the Bintel Brief, letters that readers wrote to the Forward requesting advice on how to cope with the aftermath of immigration and the pitfalls of assimilation.

Mrs. Schwebel’s correspondence revealed  had her own advice for the first lady: sample some homemade knishes and  consider using them as reinforcements for the armed forces.

To find out how Mrs. Roosevelt’s response, check out my book. And if you happen to know of any descendants of the Schwebel family, send them my way.