When I first met Carole Salzberg, she said, “I bet you have never met Sephardic Swiss Jews before.” She was correct.
The family saga twists and turns from Morocco to Switzerland, Israel, Ohio and now East Cobb. Marc Salzberg, an oncologist in research and pharmaceuticals, and Carole are parents to two Swiss-born children. Carole is also the “head family chef” and a glass artist.
Follow along the Alpine/Masada trail.
Jaffe: Describe your journey ending in Atlanta.
Carole: I was born in Lausanne, Switzerland. After finishing my studies at the Lausanne Business School, I joined the World Union of Jewish Students program in Arad, Israel. Then I worked at a local affiliate of Roche, a leading Swiss pharmaceutical company. After five years there, I met Marc, who came from Switzerland for a meeting in our Tel Aviv office.
Marc: I was born in Basel, Switzerland, where I studied medicine (and law) at the Basel University and at Tufts Medical School in Boston. I then specialized in oncology and pharmaceutical medicine.
In 1999, I was head of clinical cancer research at the Basel University Hospital and co-founded Pharma Brains, a boutique clinical research organization that I managed for 10 years and then sold to a Cincinnati-based clinical research organization. I am now involved with a number of drug and medical device developments for cancer treatment and am CEO of Airway Therapeutics, a Cincinnati-based biotech company.
In 2013, we moved to Atlanta to provide our family with a larger Jewish social and educational environment.
Jaffe: What is Jewish life like in Switzerland today?
Marc: Out of a total population of 8 million, there are 18,000 Jews in Switzerland. My hometown, Basel, is the third-largest city in the country with a 190,000 population, 2,000 of whom are Jewish.
Carole: We have an active but small Jewish community there.
Jaffe: Is there a Swiss style to home decorating?
Carole: Switzerland design style is typically very modern, unless referring to a chalet in the Swiss Alps or historical buildings in the cities’ old quarters. When we built this house, we wanted a contemporary home with traditional aspects and, most importantly, to make it cozy and welcoming. We like using natural tones with touches of colors. It was also important to assure that natural daylight enters the house.
Jaffe: Your kitchen is very open and pristine. What do you prepare?
Carole: It is definitely an important gathering place for the family, and I do love to prepare meals. My cooking is influenced by various countries and cultures: Switzerland, Italy and France (as it borders Switzerland), Morocco, where my parents are from (what my mother taught me to cook), Ashkenazi (my husband), Israeli and American. I recently hosted famous author/chef Susie Fishbein’s cooking demonstration for the Jewish National Fund. She really enjoyed my kitchen and said it was very well equipped even though I do not employ any special gourmet tools. She did mention that my knives could use a little love (sharpening).
While I had a closed kitchen in Switzerland, I learned quickly to work and host with an open kitchen, which is very different.
Jaffe: What are some special, favorite dishes that Carole prepares?
Marc: She has many delicious recipes in her repertoire and likes to experiment. One dish I really appreciate is apricot chicken tajine with couscous; she also prepares an amazing shakshuka. She makes a delicious cholent too. I brought the authentic tajine potteries from Rabat, Morocco.
Note the display of Swiss fondue dishes with cows mooing as kitchen art.
Jaffe: What Judaica and sentimental objects do you have in your home?
Carole: We received an elaborate home blessing “Blue Dome” by Zipora Mazel from our dear friends in Cincinnati when we moved here. A feathered lithography menorah by E. Baruch was a gift from my parents. We also have this delicate gold-and-crystal whiskey fountain made by my grandfather, who was a goldsmith/artisan in Fez, Morocco.
Jaffe: Do you collect any specific art?
Marc: Our favorite piece is a colorful Charles Fazzino (“Schwartz Schattens to … New York Bubbies”) that we acquired during our honeymoon in Manhattan as the first piece of art we bought together. It was snowing wildly, so we whisked off to Hawaii. That part I remember. Later we acquired other contemporary art: Rizzi, Kaufman and Israeli artist Tzuki, who created the three-dimensional heart metal sculpture. The acrylic street scene of Tel Aviv is from the Emmanuel Gallery in Tzfat.
The Swiss answer is an eclectic mix. By the fireplace is an authentic papier-mâché statue of a villager in Appenzell, a Swiss village. My grandparent’s traditional, antique Swiss clock is over 100 years old, painted and handmade. I met Mario Botta, a famous Swiss architect who renovated the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco, at an airport, where he made an original pencil drawing of it for me.
Jaffe: Your lower level is very spacious. Is it a teenage hangout?
Marc: Our basement was designed to allow bigger gatherings for kids and friends. The serving bar is the centerpiece. It’s a unique design, completely custom-made. It’s perfect for Chanukah parties and charity events for up to 50.
Jaffe: You are active in the Jewish National Fund. How do you relay your commitment to tikkun olam?
Carole: We are fortunate to have privileged lives, and I believe we have to dedicate time and energy to the benefit of others. Israel is close to my heart, and JNF has wonderful projects in various areas of life in Israel.
Jaffe: How do the languages work around here?
Marc: It is a big mixture. Our daughter speaks five languages. Our son is bilingual German/English and is still learning Hebrew. It is nothing unusual to speak several languages in Europe.
Photos by Duane Stork