Kravitz delicatessen sponsors Bavarian Oktoberfest
By Shaiyla B. HAKEEM
The dining area of Kravitz Delicatessen was filled with people waiting their turn to order authentic German dishes Saturday during Oktoberfest Youngstown, an authentic Bavarian harvest celebration that held special significance this year for the Kravitz family.
This year, deli owner Jack Kravitz and his family were reunited with members of his mother’s family, the Weisses of Europe, after more than 100 years.
The Kravitzes started their Oktoberfest to unite the community as well as raise awareness and money to support the Autism Society of the Mahoning Valley. The three-day celebration, which began Friday, features ethnic bands, folk vendors, German food, various
children’s activities, contests, German beer and Rhine wine.
Kravitz said the event is the deli’s third-busiest time of the year, trailing right behind Polish Fat Tuesday and St. Patrick’s Day, which ranks first.
“We have always tried to be very diverse; that’s kind of been our mission,” said Kravitz, adding “we try to bring people together in the Valley.”
Kravitz’s nephew, Josh Foster, is credited with discovering the Weiss relatives, who were thought to no longer exist.
Foster explained that Jack’s mother, Rose Kravitz, who founded Kravitz deli, came to America with her parents shortly after World War I in 1921. Rose’s mother belonged to the Weiss family, with whom all contact was lost.
In the era of World War II, most of the Weiss family was sent to concentration camps during the Holocaust. Many family members survived, but that was unbeknownst to the Kravitz family.
“Several years went by, and both sides of the family assumed the other side was gone,” said Foster.
Recently, Foster received an email from a stranger questioning why he had posted photos of their family on a genealogy website. His response was, “I don’t know who you are, but these are pictures of my family!”
They began to converse with one another and soon realized they were related and were long-lost cousins.
The distant family members were able to reunite Saturday at the Oktoberfest. It was the first time the two families have been together in more than 100 years.
“We are all about bringing people together,” said Kravitz. “Having new family and friends makes the Oktoberfest just that much more special to us,” he added.