Cooking Together Program Crosses Generations

Through our Israel Connections initiative, we are proud to partner with Tzipi Pichovich, a young adult in the Leadership Forum living in Sha'ar HaNegev. Thank you, Tzipi, for sharing Omnri Aloni's new program, Cooking Together. 

For over one year, Federation has been supporting a program of the Young Adults Center in Sha’ar HaNegev.

The Center has a leadership forum which includes young representatives from all the kibbutzim and the one moshav in the municipality. These young people take responsibility in promoting and organizing social programs for their respective communities.

Let me introduce you to Omri Aloni, one of these young adults. Omri has decided, like other young adults in the region, to take part in our forum. He is receiving tools and skills to be involved and active and has already chosen a project for his community. This is his project:

Men and women of different generations, young and old, meet once every two weeks to cook together.  Sounds like just another project? Well, it's not. The most important ingredient in getting this project off the ground is Omri. He never stopped believing in its success, even when things appeared far from fruition. Omri got in touch with Gitit Schlazenger, from Kibbutz Kfar Aza, coordinator of social involvement programming at the Young Adult Center, and Adi Kastenbaum-Shchubitzky from Kibbutz Or HaNer.  Together, they took up the challenge and offered to guide the cooking group. These three young people approached Chaya Burdman-Levi, the ever-young Director of the Yachdav Senior Center, who opened her huge heart and allowed the workshop to take place in the Yahdav Club.

So what's the story? Once every two Fridays, participants meet to cook together and dine together whether it's learning how to make cocktails in a drinks workshop, or meeting with chefs and learning their secrets. The cooking workshop has contributed to bringing people together. Participants engage in joint creations and learn from each other.  What is most touching, in my eyes, is the workshop's added value—proving itself to be a wonderful tool for connecting younger residents with older ones. After all, there's nothing like the love of food and cooking to eliminate age differences. There's a warm and friendly atmosphere here, with plenty of hugs, laughter and happiness, and there are endless cooking tips and fascinating stories as well.  Everybody works together with such energy and in amazing cooperation.

In the first meeting, the team split up participants into four groups. On weeks the workshop doesn't take place, the group members meet in order to plan the activity for the next gathering. Omri accompanies them in order to document the stories 'behind the scenes' of the cooking project and offer assistance and guidance when needed. On Fridays, the groups collaborate in cooking up a menu they've devised themselves and spend the time cooking, teaching, and learning together—capped off by enjoying a communal meal held in a festive spirit.

One picture that can illustrate the terrific level of commitment and desire in making this project such a success is the spectacle one sees every Friday. Participants show up with a car full of special equipment brought from home—grandma's special serving dish (nothing else will do for this special meal!), a kettle with a story about a certain aunt, a special 'Caipirinha' cup without which Brazil's national cocktail would be missing the samba beat, a set of decorative napkins and matching kitchen towels to bring the touch of home to the gathering. Ultimately, the workshop fills with the tempting aromas of Friday wafting in the air, ushering in a home-like and friendly atmosphere all around. 

All this leaves me wondering, how can we preserve and continue such gatherings? Who will take up the challenge, and inspired by this workshop, build a similar tool for generating warm and authentic communication between the different generations of kibbutzim in the region—longtime kibbutzniks, new members, teens, and even our children?  I’m hopeful we will inspire others to keep this new tradition going.

Through your generous support of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, programs like this are making a difference. Thank you.

By Tzipi Pichovich – Kibbutz Dorot 


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