Campaign Impact: Keeping it Kosher

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A kosher campus is part of what makes the Schultz Campus for Jewish Life and Shaw JCC special. That, of course, entails a kosher kitchen.

For the uninitiated, that means there are two separate sides—one for dairy meal preparation and one for meat meal preparation, with separate sets of dishes, pots, and utensils.

For the past four years, Efrat Ohayon has run the Shaw JCC’s kitchen, overseeing and cooking the 45,000+ kosher meals prepared there each year. A large portion of the meals feed children in The Lippman School and the Mandel Early Childhood Education Center at the Shaw JCC.

“Now, we’re cooking for over 200 kids every day,” Ohayon says. In summer, the kitchen serves children in childcare and summer camp.

The kitchen is also charged with providing all breakfast or lunch meetings on campus. This includes things like the monthly Be’Tay Avon Café, board or committee meetings that include meals, and an outside group renting a room for a breakfast meeting. Staff on the Schultz Campus can also pre-order lunch for a nominal cost.

At Pesach, the kitchen helps keep the campus kosher for Passover by providing lunches for all staff. Koshering the kitchen for Passover means clearing out the hametz (products containing fermented grains) and using Passover-only dishes and cookware.

While Ohayon works with a supplier that delivers food, she can’t obtain everything she needs from it. So she’s perpetually shopping to find everything she needs for her menus. She also makes sure that freshly baked challah is available each Friday; anyone can purchase a loaf at the Shaw JCC front desk for $5.

“We’re never bored here!” she says, referring as well to her assistant Anita Langston, who has worked there for three years.

“I found Anita in the parking lot,” Ohayon laughs. At a campus gala a few years ago, Langston was on the wait staff. When the evening was through, Ohayon stopped her in the parking lot and asked if she might be interested in working at the JCC kitchen.

Another responsibility for the Shaw JCC kitchen is preparing kosher meals for homebound individuals through Mobile Meals.

“Every day we receive a list of people needing meals for the day from Mobile Meals,” Ohayon explains. “Typically, it is about five or six people. We provide a fresh, full meal—hot dishes as well as fruit sides, breads and desserts.”
“We really try to work with the people [who receive meals],” she says. “Because we have such a small group of people.” Community member Rochelle Stone coordinates volunteers, so each day someone picks up and delivers the meals.

In addition to the full-time work of the campus kitchen, Ohayon manages Efrat’s Café, which caters various events for all three synagogues, b’nai mitzvoth, and on campus. Efrat’s Café also manages the pool snack bar.

A portion of the money raised from your JCBA Annual Campaign contribution  helps support a kosher kitchen on the Schultz Campus for Jewish Life.