Anti-Semitism American bake sale attracts Jewish foodies, few non-Jewish allies

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JTA – When Daniela Weiner heard about a virtual bake sale against anti-Semitism, the Chicago pastry chef and food photographer didn’t hesitate to join in.

Weiner is not Jewish. But she’s been at fundraising bake sales before, raising $ 1,500 last year for racial justice causes, and she also knew that some of her Jewish friends in the food world were alarmed by a recent series of anti-Semitic incidents.

“Seeing a friend talking about it, crying on social media that she’s scared… I can’t even imagine,” said Weiner, from Austria and shares his creations on Instagram. “For me, it was an instinct to join.”

Few other non-Jewish foodies have made the same decision. It’s a dynamic that organizers of the bake sale reflect a broader trend in which Jews are left alone to fight anti-Semitism despite an environment of social justice that values ​​the alliance.

Whitney Fisch, a longtime food blogger who is one of the organizers, said she only knew two non-Jews on the attendee list for Bake a Stand: Bake to End Antisemitism, which begins Friday. It’s not because we haven’t asked them, she said.

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“I’ve had people say no, I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that,” Fisch said. “There have certainly been people who claim to be allies for social justice and civil rights totally ignore me.”

Whitney Fisch prepares 20 babkas for Bake a Stand, an anti-Semitism bake sale she organized. (Courtesy of Fisch)

Fisch and the other organizers of the sale said they were pleased with the participation of Jewish culinary figures, who will sell or auction baked goods and other goods to benefit a Holocaust museum in the Ohio. Participants include Instagram culinary celebrities such as Jake cohen, which plans to auction off a copy of its cookbook “Jew-Ish” to its 346,000 followers, and Adeena sussman, which has 130,000 subscribers for its publications on Israeli cuisine. They also include dozens of people with much smaller followers: a woman in Houston, for example, sells challahs for $ 18 and boxes of cookies for $ 10 to her 500 followers.

Fisch, who plans to bake and sell 20 babkas, hosted an in-person bake sale three years ago to benefit efforts to reunite separated families on the U.S. border. She said she was inspired to coordinate a virtual edition in addition to her daily work, running an Ohio Hillel, after see disinformation and one-sided narratives circulating during the recent Israel-Gaza conflict – then feeling lonely trying to push back.

“In our opinion, we felt that there was such an instinctive race to condemn Israel, which allows anti-Semitism to develop, and not to support anything related to the fight against anti-Semitism”, a- she declared. “People seem scared to say that they support a Jewish person’s right to live in this fearless world. “

The sale of pastries “declaration of values“contains no mention of Israel, and Fisch and colleagues said they chose to direct the proceeds to the Holocaust and Humanity Center in Cincinnati, where Fisch lives, because the organization focuses exclusively on combating anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred Other organizations that include the defense of Israel in their work have been deemed “too polarizing” to sell baked goods, Fisch said.

The museum is preparing educational material on anti-Semitism that attendees can share on social media during the bake sale, according to its CEO Sarah Weiss.

“One of my hopes is that it gets attention in a different way that other institutions wouldn’t,” she said, noting that on Instagram, Jewish culinary figures may be more likely that Jewish organizations have non-Jewish followers.

Yet Israel continues to hold an important place for many participants. Weiner said she had received “very disturbing messages” since announcing her participation, including from a friend who told her: “I would not support this. Israel is killing innocent children. Another sent. photos of children who died in Gaza and said she hoped Weiner would think of them while cooking.

“I just can’t figure this out,” Weiner said. “What is happening in Israel and Gaza is frightening. But also what is happening outside our doors is scary too.

Lea Koenig, the author of several Jewish cookbooks, said she wanted to participate because she knew that some people in her life, including her in-laws, had been afraid to wear the kippah in public for the past few years. years. But she initially worried that others might equate her participation with supporting the Israeli government.

“Will they think I’m too right?” Koenig said she wondered. “I decided I didn’t care. Because at this point, standing up as a Jew against anti-Semitism is quite important. ”

Koenig worked with Los Angeles recipe developer and food photographer Fisch and Lindsey Silverman to coordinate the launch of the bake sale. Unlike Koenig, Silverman hasn’t made his Jewish identity a focus of his food career, the centerpiece of which is a blog and Instagram feed called Dolly and oatmeal, where she publishes gluten-free and dairy-free recipes from her Los Angeles kitchen.

“My religion or what I believed in was never part of [my work]”Silverman said.” Now the two have kind of merged and I feel obligated and the need to stand up for my people. There’s no way I can’t.

The initiative echoes last year’s Bakers Against Racism bake sale, which brought together more than 2,000 bakers and raised over $ 1.6 million for racial justice initiatives in its first weekend – then evolved into a movement to uplift colored bakers. Many Jewish bakers participated.

Fisch said Bakers Against Racism, who both voiced solidarity with the Palestinians and rejected anti-Semitism in recent Instagram posts, had not responded to his invitation to share information on Bake a Stand. (The movement’s account did not respond to a message from the Jewish Telegraph Agency.)

But she said she was excited by those who did, including Weiner, whom she hailed on Instagram Thursday as “a queen and truly an ally” after learning Weiner was a Catholic.

Weiner sold eight boxes of gluten-free brownies and cookies. She wants to raise $ 500, but she’s not sure how to do it.

“At the end of the day, I feel like if I give $ 50, it’s still $ 50 they didn’t have,” she said.

And Koenig, who plans to auction off a fruit cake to New Yorkers and her “Little Book of Jewish Sweets” cookbook to people farther afield, said she was proud to participate despite low turnout. allies.

“If it’s going to start with people within the Jewish community, it’s still important to do it,” Koenig said. “It’s a good first step and we’ll see where it goes.

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