The first annual Southern New England Kosher BBQ Championship and Festival fired up on Sunday, Sept. 7, hosted by Congregation Beth El in Fairfield.
Sanctioned by World Kosher BBQ Championship in Memphis, Tenn., about 30 teams from throughout the tri-state area took part in the event – with a couple of teams from Connecticut taking home high honors.
The Holy Smokes BBQ team from Beit Chaverim Synagogue in Westport emerged from the fires with two trophies, including Gold Medal for Best Chili and Bronze for best overall performance.
According to team member Rabbi Greg Wall, there was something distinctly spiritual about it all.
“We pray every day for the opportunity to once again serve our Creator in the way expressed in the Torah” explains Wall, spiritual leader of Beit Chaverim. “In the Torah, God commands the children of Israel to bring a re’ach n’choach, a ‘pleasing fragrance,’ every day. What was that fragrance? It was the smell of BBQ!”
“The most exalted of the senses is the sense of smell as, unlike the other four senses, it was not used to commit the first spiritual blunder in the Torah, the incident of the forbidden fruit involving Adam, Eve and the serpent in the Garden of Eden. It is no surprise that the divine service in the Mishkan (the Tabernacle) revolved around the burning of incense, which was capable of stopping plagues,” says Wall, whose teammates include Alan Benjamin, Brett Cohen, Amir Sibboni, and Beit Chaverim’s co-president Andrew Marcus.
“Going forward we hope to use our BBQ team to help raise funds for charity, and spread the word about the special and warm community we enjoy here at Beit Chaverim” says Marcus. “We are a traditional synagogue where anyone, regardless of their background, or current practice, can instantly feel at home, and be inspired to grow Jewishly. Good food certainly helps.”
Beit Chaverim wasn’t the only Connecticut team to score high.
The BBYO Connecticut Region team – dubbed “Honorable Menschen” – placed sixth overall, with a third place finish in the brisket category.
“The event was so great we are definitely doing it again next year!” says Josh Cohen, director of BBYO Connecticut Region.