There is an old slogan that alleges that for Jews, “no eating, no meeting.” But it begs the question, “who is in charge of the nosh?”
Early this past summer, one of the last vestiges of presumptiveness at Agudas Achim came to a quiet conclusion. For what seems like always, the women of Sisterhood were held responsible for the kitchen. Our archives are filled with pictures and stories of culinary extravaganzas put on by the housewives of a former generation. Older neighbors still wistfully recall the spaghetti dinners they ate once a month at our building. And though the Torah reading and programs changed from week to week, “sponsored by Sisterhood” was one of the most dependable lines in oral and written announcements on Shabbat.
It is to the credit of our current Sisterhood members that they maintained these duties long past the time when it was presumed that ladies have inherent responsibilities for the kitchen. The complicated lives we all lead – not to mention the increased use of our facilities – made it next to impossible for volunteers to meet the weekly and special needs of our congregation. There is no way to convey the gratitude of the congregation for the years of Sisterhood’s devotion.
Our kitchen is now managed by Harriet Moulder, hired by the synagogue to manage our kitchen. Because she is on the staff for significant hours each week, there is greater variety and opportunity for creativity in food service, including the ability of congregants to prepare food in our supervised kosher kitchen. And teaming Harriet with Cheryl Nelson, who knows our operation better than anyone, makes the Agudas Achim kitchen even more attractive as the option for celebrations and special occasions.
Many of you have tasted food from the expanded menus available. Because we still rely on volunteer help, especially on the weekends of b’nai mitzvah, we have been able to keep costs low. (Mirza tells me that a recent private event cost about 85% less than outside catering.) As the year progresses, we will use the opportunities presented by ongei Shabbat and kiddushim, as well as programs like Shabbat dinners, to introduce ideas and options for you to consider. I am also pleased that Harriet has focused on health and environmental responsibility as part of her duties.
There is still room for Sisterhood in the kitchen – as well as Men’s Club, youth groups, religious and pre-school, seniors and the congregation-at-large. And we will soon (perhaps elsewhere in this bulletin) announce a class for those of you who would like to train as a mashgiach (supervisor). The pleasure we take in each other’s company is enhanced by a cookie, some hummus, lox and bagel or I-don’t know-what-it-is-but-it-is-delicious. Your support for the kitchen through contributions, volunteering, contracting or just eating will keep Agudas Achim welcoming, kosher and accessible to all.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington has made a grant to the synagogue through its Community Crisis Assistance Fund to aid those people who have emergency needs with essential expenses. Please contact Rabbi Moline to discuss confidential assistance.