April 10, 2024
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Innovative Bakery Starts to Make an Impact in Israel

We were extremely fortunate to spend a year in Israel last year in the amazing neighborhood of Buchman in Modiin. There were the obvious challenges in moving three kids, finding an apartment and figuring out logistics in a new country. However, one major concern trumped all else: our oldest son has severe sesame and nut allergies. Sesame is virtually ubiquitous in all restaurants and bakeries and is added to foods that are highly unlikely to have the allergen in the US (techina in tuna salad?). Labeling laws in Israel are unlike those in the U.S., where a food product must list possible allergens or any real oversight. We learned through friends, websites and whatsapp groups which companies label their allergens correctly and which ingredients were suitable. Here in New Jersey, we are fortunate to have sesame- and nut-free bakeries that make challah and pastries we feel comfortable with, but in Israel we were resigned to giving our son only items that we baked or transported from the U.S.

When we arrived in Modiin, we began to find that a number of families had similar issues with allergies. Thankfully, our kids adjusted well to the schools and made friends, but eating out at restaurants and friend’s homes remained problematic. We were in touch with many tourists who didn’t have access to a kitchen in which to cook or bake safe foods for their allergic family members,so we decided that we needed to try and make Israel a more welcoming place for people with food allergies. Consequently, we teamed up with an oleh named Yaakov Weiss (son of Teaneck’s former Chabad shaliach Rabbi Mordechai Weiss) to construct a bakery that is nut-, peanut-, sesame- and dairy-free. We opted to make it a virtual bakery with no physical storefront (only deliveries) and therefore called it the @ sign in Hebrew, which is called strudel!

Our goal in starting Strudel was threefold: to solve a problem for allergic parents, to employ people in Israel and bring delicious, American-style baked goods (read: sweet challahs) to Israel. We interviewed different bakers, taste tested (yum!), worked on the website and sourced ingredients. Finally, in June 2023, we went live at www.strudelbakery.co.il. Initially, the bakery was delivery only, but we started to open local shuk stands in Reut (in Modiin) and Mishor Adumim.

After the incredibly tragic events of October 7, our team quickly pivoted into providing challah for the soldiers who were stationed near Mitzpe Yericho, where the bakery is based. The army was not able to provide fresh challah for Shabbat and our bakery quickly filled that need. The first several weeks we continued running the bakery from local donations, but after seeing that this was going to be longer haul, our creative manager, Charna, sought sponsors from other communities and outside of Israel. When we approached Butterflake bakery, the response was enthusiastic and heartwarming. Butterflake has embraced this mission so thoroughly that we needed to thank them and their customers who have either donated a challah through Butterflake or through our website. This has enabled us to keep the bakery running, keep our amazing staff employed and allowed us to show our soldiers how much we care for them by providing them with delicious baked goods!

One of the most gratifying components of the strudel journey has been the feedback from customers. They have ranged from product comments (people love the new blueberry muffins), to tourist appreciation (people have gone to Israel for the first time because they knew their child would be able to eat), to the chayalim who enjoyed the food but appreciated the love even more. Please consider supporting our bakery either through the delivery service or the Challah for a Chayal program. Our website is in English and very user friendly. For more information visit www.strudelbakery.co.il.

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