Bagels at the Heder

by Camilla McGill

Camilla preparing bagelsThe idea of the PTA providing bagels at the heder came from Yvonne Mason.  When I started to get involved about four years ago we were buying them from the Polish deli in Streatham who sold them to us in large paper sacks of 50 bagels which we froze.  I noticed that once you got below half-way down the bagels started to get freezer burn.  I also did a little investigation and realised that we could buy them at less than half the price by going direct to the supplier The Bagel Bake in Brick Lane in the East End.  I managed to persuade my father, who is very familiar with the East End, to schlepp down there to pick up 10 sacks of bagels (500) and he now does this about once every 7 weeks.  The production line is that he delivers them to my house, I re-bag them in plastic bags, 10 per bag (as they keep much fresher this way), and I take them to the shul freezer.

Parents from the heder are encouraged to volunteer once or twice a term for ‘Bagel duty’ on a Sunday morning.  We have two in the kitchen and one in the hall making Capuccinnos  using our Nespresso  machine.  This purchase was an inspired idea put forward by Ricky and Sharon Coussins and has made a big difference not only to our sales (all profits go the the heder PTA for all kinds of expenditures) but also it is so nice for any adults who are around on a Sunday morning to get a lovely caffeine kick.

A coffee at £1.50 a cup  including a free biscuit we think is a bargain especially compared to Starbucks and it is made with love by a heder parent.  Volunteers tell us that they really enjoy coming along. We have some great chats over slicing and buttering bagels – we make about 70 a week and it is so nice to serve the children at break.

The children come along clutching their pound coins (£1 for butter or cream cheese and £2 salmon and cream cheese).  They are always polite and appreciative and we are so glad to give them a filling, non-sugary snack for break.  Ok, so maybe a bagel made with white flour isn’t the most healthy form of bread but the cream cheese and salmon are good protein so we think we’re not doing so badly and, as sales show, the children love them.

In Autumn 2013 we started a really successful series of coffee mornings where each week the parents of one or two classes were invited to come for a coffee and to meet the other parents from their children’s class.  Complimentary Nespresso was served and although we announced that the event would last  from 10.15-11.15, most parents stayed for the whole morning chatting and getting to know each other.Bagels at heder

The PTA feels that the coffee and bagel production has so many great functions.  It means that heder isn’t seen as a place where parents  simply drop and run – they frequently come in, sit and read the paper with a coffee and a bagel and have a relaxing morning.  It gives parents an opportunity to get involved when they help, children feel taken care of and I’m sure reassured at break time that they are being served by other parents, no child goes hungry (god forbid) and even if they have come without money we are always happy to make a note of any debts and provide the bagel.  Teachers can also get a welcome hit of caffeine to pep them up during the morning. Funds raised have bought the three sofas and coffee tables used so frequently in the hallway, we regularly contribute to events for the youth club, for equipment, teacher training and we are making a handsome contribution to the forthcoming Purim lunch.


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