Every Thursday morning at 9:30, 10 fifth- and sixth-grade students at the Amos and Celia Heilicher Minneapolis Jewish Day School in St. Louis Park enter the school kitchen with squeaky clean hands and sleeves rolled up.
The cooking elective class taught by Christine Yussen has forty-five minutes to assemble the ingredients called for in a delicious bundt cake. Every week it’s something new: chocolate-chocolate chip, Neapolitan, cherry chocolate chip and orange are just some of the varieties of cakes the class produces, with a goal of baking four cakes per week.
As in any home economics type of course, the students learn:
- to read a recipe in sequential order
- to exercise math skills with their careful measurements
- to take responsibility with cleaning up flour spills and the like
- to work in small groups fostering great teamwork skills
This cooking course is infused in Jewish values, and it’s not just about abiding by the rules of Kashruth. What makes this class different is what happens after the cakes are baked.
The concept of hesed, or acts of kindness, is a core value that emanates throughout HMJDS. A few years ago, a parent-led hesed committee was established to network with school families in need. Whether it be a death in the family, a parent needing hospitalization, or the joyous occasion of a birth, the delicious bundt cakes are brought to families and extended community members to bring a sense of comfort and sweetness at a time when it may be needed most.
And just like that homemade Mother’s Day card, there’s nothing more delicious than something made, and baked, with love from our children.