Volunteering in Israel – A Sweet Experience!

Posted by: Rebecca

This February, I had the opportunity participate in the Vegan Bakery Internship in Tel Aviv for three weeks. As soon as arrived, I was quickly welcomed into the bakery family by Assaf, the owner, who is incredibly warm, quirky, and funny. Yael, the head pastry chef, immediately started teaching me how to work with every type of machinery and food product imaginable. Ella, too, was always incredible patient and kind and never hesitated to lend me helping hand or explain instructions again.

Every day, Yael and Ella would guide me through new recipes, techniques, and how to overcome the challenges of baking vegan (without eggs, dairy, etc). By the end of my three weeks, I was familiar with almost all the products and techniques used in the bakery.

My jobs included all parts of the baking process: cutting freezing cold cookies, operating the dough machine, operating the mixing machine, packaging mousse cakes, making batters, scaling ingredients, unloading products from the frigid-cold walk-in freezer, rolling croissants, forming pie crusts, operating the oven, and even learning the Hebrew words for many baking products. Each day was different, new, and kept me busy and challenged mentally and physically.

One night, Assaf even invited me to bake with him for the anniversary of a different upscale vegan restaurant in Tel Aviv. I really enjoyed “baking on the spot” with him and truly felt like a real baker!And of course, another plus was the fabulous food– not only was I able to sample many of the yummy pastries, but Yael and Assaf always cooked incredibly delicious, healthy lunches that I already miss.

While I did learn many important concrete skills at my three weeks volunteering in Israel at the bakery, I also took away many life lessons from all the baking I did: the importance of timing and safety, being aware of space and people around you, finding a balance between being gentle and rough and focusing on quality vs. quantity, performing tasks in the easiest and most timely manner, and not being to hard on myself if I made a mistake (e.g. shattering glass jars or dropping entire bowls of batter).

In short, volunteering in Israel at the vegan bakery was a meaningful experience and I gained much from it. I will be sure to use many of the skills I picked up even in the short time I was there and hopefully re-create many of the yummy recipes I learned. Thank you to all the staff at the bakery for a great three weeks– I hope to be back someday and maybe even wait on line next time for a sweet-potato quiche, apple crumble pie, chocolate-cranberry cookie, or chocolate croissant.