Fort Ontario refugee returns as successful entrepreneur

Doris SchechterDoris Schechter, who came to Oswego’s Fort Ontario as a child refugee during World War II, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 7, in SUNY Oswego’s Campus Center auditorium, Room 118.

Part of Jewish Awareness Week at the college, her talk will be free and open to the public.

Schechter became the founder of a famous kosher restaurant in the heart of Broadway’s theatre district and author of two cookbooks.

“The tale of a young girl turning into a successful entrepreneur while maintaining her Jewish identity is a story of inspiration,” said SUNY Oswego economics Professor Larry Spizman. “It is a story of America’s willingness to accept refugees from around the world and the contributions those refugees have made to our country,”

Schechter (then Dorrit Blumenkanz) was only a baby when she fled from the Nazis from her home in Vienna. She lived in Italy with her family until they were chosen, among 982 refugees, to come to America on the Army troop transport ship Henry Gibbons, led by Dr. Ruth Gruber. They found a “safe haven” in Oswego.

“With 30 Nazi planes flying over the Henry Gibbons and Nazi U-boats and submarines hunting them, the refugees survived by a miracle and became the only refugees allowed into the United States during World War II,” Spizman said.

Schechter left Oswego when she was 5 years old and moved to the Bronx. She started in the food business in the 1980s where she went from restaurant to restaurant selling the cakes she baked in her kitchen while raising her family.

The door-to-door cakes soon became “My Most Favorite Dessert Company.” She moved her kosher restaurant to Madison Avenue in Manhattan and then to her current location on 45th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue in the heart of New York’s theatre district.

Schechter is the author of two cookbooks, “My Most Favorite Dessert Company” and the recently published “At Oma’s Table.” She has appeared on television shows such as the Martha Stewart Show and has done cooking demonstrations all over the United States. 

She will discuss her childhood, her relationship to Gruber and her achievement in the restaurant business on April 7. She will do a book signing after her talk. Books will be available for sale at the event.

Her appearance in Oswego is sponsored by the college’s Jewish Student Union/Hillel in cooperation with the SUNY Oswego Student Association.

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CONTACT: Dr. Larry Spizman, 343-1420,

(Posted: Mar 19, 2008)