Citizens Kitchen Feeds Israelis Affected By War
Sisters Aliya Fastman and Shaendl Davis are the proprietors behind the Tel Aviv-based cooking studio Citrus & Salt, where they offer workshops in Israeli food, mostly to tourists. That was, until Hamas attacked Israel on October 7. The pair, Berkeley, Calif., natives who made aliyah several year ago, immediately put their successful business on hold to launch Citizen’s Kitchen, a volunteer initiative to feed soldiers, bereaved families and others who have been evacuated from the southern and northern border areas, one of a number of food-focused charitable pop-ups in Israel since the start of the war.
Working with Citrus & Salt’s Chef Alon Sharaby, the sisters, both in their 30s, have gathered hundreds of volunteers, many of them fellow olim, and solicited tens of thousands of dollars in donations to cook and deliver 400 to 700 fresh meals daily. In the first month of the war, Citizen’s Kitchen had distributed more than 10,000 meals. For their rapid response to the evacuee crisis in Israel, Citizen’s Kitchen became one of the local partners of World Central Kitchen, the nonprofit organization founded by celebrated chef José Andrés that provides free meals in the wake of natural and humanitarian disasters.
Fastman said all the volunteers in Citizen’s Kitchen “are in shock from what’s been going on around us. But when we come together, we feel the incredible spirit of our country. We feel the community around us. We feel hopeful.”
Fastman and Davis as well as their mother, Rabbi Sara Shendelman, who has been instrumental in raising funds and awareness for Citizen’s Kitchen, are Hadassah life members with a proud family history in the organization.
“My mother, Esther Wainman Shendelman, intended to go to Israel and be part of the kibbutz movement in the 1940s, but her father died, and she could not leave her mother,” said Shendelman, a Berkeley resident. “She turned to Hadassah and devoted her life to it, eventually ending up on the national board.”