For a time after Canterbury, she was working in a London hospital in charge of an officers’ ward, but when she became restless she was transferred to Cairo. There were riots to face and she was in Egypt at the time of the Armistice. Florence signed on for another six months and transferred to Palestine. It was not until December, 1919 that she felt ready to go home.
Soon after her return to England Florence Oppenheimer was introduced to the editor of the Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish World, Leopold J. Greenberg.
Greenberg, a brilliant editor, was a 58-year-old widower, but despite the disparity in their ages, Florence and Leopold married at the West London Synagogue, Upper Berkeley Street on May 6, 1920.
After a few weeks, he suggested that she should write a cookery column for the Jewish Chronicle, but when she protested that she had no literary ability, Leopold said it really did not matter as she was an excellent cook. In an almost unprecedented contribution run, Florence wrote her weekly column in the paper from 1920 until 1962.
Leopold died in 1931. His successor in the editor’s chair at the Jewish Chronicle, J M Rich, aware of the devotion of her readers, asked Florence to write a Jewish cookery book and so the first edition of Florence Greenberg’s Cookery Book, the bible of pre-war AngloJewish kitchens, came into existence.
FIVE THOUSAND copies were published in 1934 and the book sold for three shillings and sixpence. There have been many editions since, some utilising wartime rations; Penguin published a paperback in 1967 and it has been transcribed in Braille. A glossy, updated hardcover edition from the Hamlyn Publishing Group became available in 1980 with colour plates at the price of £6.95. Each recipe was tested by a home economist.
Florence had a special interest in dietetics, during the Second World War lecturing extensively for the Ministry of Food and giving talks to Jewish women on how to make the best use of food during rationing.
She then became a regular broadcaster for the BBC programme On the Kitchen Front, wrote a section on Jewish cookery for a new edition of Mrs Beeton, and wrote extensively for the journal “Newnes Home Management”.
She was a founder member of the London Jewish Hospital and when a nurses’ home annexe was added to Stepney Green Hospital, she was able to use her experience in the furnishing of the nurses’ bedrooms and recreation rooms from the viewpoint of someone who had been a nurse herself. She was an active member of the ladies’ aid society of the hospital and during the Second World War worked at a canteen in a busy London terminus on several days each week as a member of the Women’s Voluntary Service.
Florence Greenberg died aged 98 at Hammerson House in London on December 4, 1980 and was survived by her daughter and two grandchildren.
When she was 90, she told a reporter that the ingredients for her recipe for longevity were harmonious family relationships, a worthwhile career and never, never to moan.
In a 1955 assessment of her eponymous cookbook, an (anonymous) writer observed that if some of Florence’s recipes were thought to be a mite bland, it was because “the nurse in her was afraid of upsetting the patient’s tummy.” Nevertheless, the same writer noted, the major difference between a Florence Greenberg recipe and that of other cookbooks was simple. “They work.” Doreen Berger is chairman of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain and author of two reference books based on newspaper research in mid-Victorian England.