When my mother, Claire Salzbank, a’h, passed away 12 years ago, I told a story that centered on, of all things, her chocolate-chip cookies. It was far more than a delicious treat (she didn’t skimp on the chips). It was an expression of her love for her family and friends. They were ever-present and marked every occasion and transition in our lives. At camp or learning in Israel, cookies would arrive as care packages, and my brothers went off to college armed with bags of cookies. I couldn’t leave the house without taking a fresh batch for the grandchildren. I have tried my best to continue her legacy with our family and friends.
I, like so many, was touched by the video clips from Eretz Yisrael that showed children racing off to bomb shelters as the sirens blared. It is hard for us to imagine that instant feeling of panic and fear. Those poor children—frightened and scared, sitting until the all-clear signal allowed them to resume their daily routines. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be so nice if there was a tin of my mom’s cookies waiting there for them as they rushed in? Perhaps it would ever so slightly ease the trauma for those dear children.”
I began making preparations in the Bnos Malka school kitchen (I am the executive director at the school). I solicited volunteers from the parent body to help me bake; I contacted my sister-in-law in Efrat who put me in touch with the Pinah Chamah in the Gush. The Pinah Chamah (“cozy corner”) is a wonderful place where soldiers can stop for a bit of rest, for a drink, something to eat, or just a kind word on the way to their bases. It is located at the Gush Etzion Junction and is managed by volunteers from the area. It looked as if this little idea might happen. Unfortunately, the realities of actually transporting the cookies to Eretz Yisrael proved to be too difficult. Sending a small box of cookies with people traveling seemed too much of a bother for too little accomplished.
I was a bit dejected until the woman from the Gush Etzion Foundation and the Pinah Chamah suggested we may want to try rally the school to raise money to help the families of wounded soldiers. That gave rise (pun intended) to the “Bnos Malka Feels the Knead” bake sale. Since so many people had offered to help, we decided to bake challahs and chocolate-chip cookies here in the school and to sell them and raise money for the Gush Etzion Foundation. The truly remarkable gesture is how many of our students are willing to sacrifice the last days of their summer vacation to return to the school to bake and package challahs and cookies. We are hopeful that some corporate sponsors might help with some of the supplies so that all of the proceeds can be sent to Israel. In any event, we are moving forward with this bake sale, and the legacy of my mother and caring through cooking will continue.
We will begin taking pre-orders ($10/challah, $18/Lechem Mishneh, and $5/package chocolate-chip cookies) immediately and will have pickup dates on Thursday, August 21 and Friday, August 22. We will even arrange for a special pick-up in Kew Gardens Hills. For more information or orders, call 347-470-8680. ϖ