By Hoshea Allen
Overlooking the scenic hills of central Israel and tucked away on a quiet residential street in the neighborhood of Ramat Nuria in Bet Shemesh is the most extraordinary “American style” specialty bakery this side of Jerusalem. Kosher Cakery opened its doors for business a few months ago just days after Devorah Altman, an infectiously enthusiastic and charming entrepreneur from West Hempstead, made aliyah.
Devorah began baking when she was about 12 years old. When she was asked about it, a smile appeared across her face as she related fond memories of how she used to bake specially designed cakes for her little brother on his birthdays. She never stopped baking. She even worked for a number of years in the catering business but decided that wasn’t for her. There was too much “other stuff’–not enough baking.
After being involved in education and teaching for over 20 years, including a number of years at Yeshivas Darchei Torah in Far Rockaway, Devorah headed to Israel to expand her professional career and earned an accreditation from the Gruss Foundation to teach a special science-enrichment program for elementary-school curricula. Although that wasn’t her first time in Israel, it was certainly the critical turning point in her life. She had wanted to make aliyah for many years, so leaving Israel to go back to teaching in Far Rockaway was not an easy thing to do. Devorah decided that she needed a new plan. Upon her return to New York, while simultaneously holding down three jobs, she baked the “3 C’s” (cakes, cupcakes, and cookies) for her friends’ simchas–just for the fun of it. Everybody told her that her delicacies were scrumptious, but Devorah wasn’t satisfied with just a great taste. She wanted the great look as well.
Devorah enrolled in class after class of specialty bakery courses to learn how to present and decorate the most extraordinary desserts one could imagine. According to her, the joy of eating a cake isn’t just in the taste. It’s what takes place with the eyes. She worked hard with great dedication to perfect her craft. From Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey, to the Kosher Culinary Institute in Brooklyn, Devorah learned from such outstanding bakers as Gitti Allman of Decorate My Cake and Ellen Sternau–among the best of the best along the East Coast.
It’s one thing to bake specialty cakes in New York; it’s another thing altogether to move halfway around the world to do it. Pushing aside minor details, Devorah made up her mind. She was going to fulfill her dreams. “It has been a dream of mine for at least 25 years, and now I’ve finally been able to pull it off. What is really important for me is being able to put a smile on people’s faces and making them feel really good.”
Setting up a new business in Israel is not an easy task for anyone, let alone a single mother with three children. When asked about the challenges, though, Devorah smiled. “I came on emunah that Hashem would take care of me. I feel like I have emunah and bitachon, and Hashem has really helped me the past six years with how everything happened–being able to send my kids on programs, the different jobs I’ve had, the places I lived in–everything. He always took care of me, so I know He’ll take care of me here too. I have to do my own hishtadlus–I’m not going to sit back. It’s a whole new chapter of my life, I want to do something different, and I like making people happy. This is a different way–instead of giving people homework . . . ,” she said as she chuckled. “You’re baking for all of these happy occasions, so you’re just surrounding yourself and everyone else with happiness–and they love it, and they feel so good. And it’s so easy.”
Many people told her before she made aliyah that there would be a large North American market for her services. People were interested in what she had to offer–an opportunity for people who don’t live in Israel or can’t visit Israel to have fresh custom-made pastries delivered directly to their family or to their friend’s simchas in Israel. She had 20 orders for the 3 C’s in her first week of business! Since then, her business also began to grow with customers coming from within Israel itself.
All of her treats are freshly baked and individually customized. No matter what a customer may want, Devorah will find a way to satisfy. She bakes everything daily and has her treats hand-delivered anywhere throughout the Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv area. How’s that for room service? You’ll never have to worry about how to show loved ones who are so far away just how much you truly care. Compromise is not an option, because she knows that the best business is one which offers customers quality from start to finish.
Baking delicious treats isn’t just a job for Devorah. It’s a way to help people connect to their family and friends. She bakes everything with the highest-quality pareve ingredients available–from the flour all the way down to the sparkles and fondant used for decorating. Kosher Cakery is under the hashgachah of Rav Eliezer Schenkolewski of Bet Shemesh, and the bakery uses only mehadrin and Bedatz ingredients. Upon request, she will make a customer’s 3 C’s with only Eidah Charedi ingredients.
The next time you have a loved one becoming a bar or bat mitzvah, having sheva berachot, celebrating a birthday, or making a special kiddush, check out the Kosher Cakery website (www.koshercakery.com), browse through the menu, look at all of the amazing specials, and then place an order. (To reach Kosher Cakery by phone, call 516-732-6114 in the U.S. or 054-970-6716 in Israel.) If you need some cookies, how about looking up her gluten-free peanut-butter cookies or baby cookies? If you’re looking for tasty cupcakes, why not check out her Mothers Day or Sukkot cupcakes? Or if you want to show that you really care, view her amazing cakes–cakes that look like Har Sinai, a hockey rink, a teddy bear, or other innovative designs. If you can think of it, Devorah can make it for you.
Sending flowers is passÃ©. Send the 3 C’s from Kosher Cakery and everyone will remember you and thank you for years to come. v
Hoshea Allen is a freelance writer who also recently made aliyah. He can be reached at email@example.com.