It took a little persuasion, but Lynne – the face of Kiddushim at Wimbledon & District, a superb baker and a member of WimShul Cooks has written this for our blog:
How did you get involved?
Our son, Sam, was Barmitzvah in 2002 and it was shortly afterwards that I became pulled into Synagogue Community life. That was the year our Rabbis, Sybil Sheridan and Sylvia Rothschild, arrived and I was asked by Hilary Leek to help organise the catering after the Induction Service. This was no gentle introduction – the number of guests expected was 400 and our task involved converting 28 loaves of bread into neat triangular sandwiches with no crusts!
Up until that time, Saturday Kiddushim were organised by Anne Bower, mother of Patrick and mother-in-law of Judith Ish-Horowicz. As she was becoming a little frail, I asked her one day if she would like me to take over the preparation of Kiddushim. She agreed with a warm, wide beam!
Initially, with the help of Alison Kelin, I introduced a system asking different families to take responsibility for organising Kiddushim, by bringing in three cakes, cutting them up and clearing away afterwards. However, this became increasingly difficult to manage: festivals sometimes fell on a Saturday or families wanted to host their own celebration Kiddush. A central co-ordinator was therefore needed and it was at this point that I took on the baking and running of Kiddushim myself.
What has motivated you to provide weekly home-baked Kiddushim?
Although we worry about dropping attendance at Saturday morning Services, there are a core group of people who regularly attend, week in, week out. Over the years many of them have built up our Community and deserve our care and respect. Several have their favourite seat in Synagogue but sadly as the years pass some are no longer occupied. It is important to me that the Saturday morning stalwarts receive a warm welcome, a piece of home-made cake and perhaps a ‘doggy bag’ to take home.
Kiddush is a time when at the end of a long week the Congregation can relax and chat and it also provides an opportunity for us to welcome visitors and encourage potential new members!
Recently, Josette Clift-Cohen arranged a follow-on lunch after Kiddush which I think is a wonderful initiative.
How many cakes do you bake for a regular Shabbat? What are the favourites?
On a normal Saturday I usually provide three to four cakes. The most popular are the lemon drizzle cake and the infamous chocolate fridge biscuits. This recipe originally came from my mother’s friend in Bristol and has now been passed far and wide. I find baking very therapeutic and most evenings during the week I bake between 5 and 7 pm. Output increased greatly when our son was away at university and I wanted to occupy the quiet hours!
On many Saturdays the Community are treated to a special Kiddush by those celebrating a life-cycle event. On these occasions I speak to the host and discuss various options, menus and quantities. Over the years I have gained experience of caterers, costs and the best suppliers and I also advise and book waitresses through the Synagogue office. The content of fare varies considerably – there has been a definite move from the more traditional bridgerolls and bagels to platters of sushi. However, the fishball still reigns supreme in its popularity!
My involvement with larger functions can prove both interesting and amusing. The most unusual request came from a host holding a pirate party who wanted a live parrot on site! Unfortunately this was not possible for health and safety reasons!
In addition to Kiddushim I ‘don’ my catering hat at Festivals and organise cheesecake, hamantaschen, fruit, doughnuts and honey cakes.
I also enjoy offering practical support to Shabbat Club and helping prepare food for the children following their Services.
I am currently involved in interviewing potential new caterers for the Shul and am thoroughly enjoying being part of the Wimshul Cooks team.
The single downside of the role has to be an increased calorie intake as a result of licking the cake bowls but it is a small price to pay for the pleasure I derive from what I do.
Photos by Libby Hipkins