fbpx

Citizen’s Kitchen Provides Comfort Through Food

This meal operation provides hearty, warm meals to soldiers and displaced families. 
[additional-authors]
December 1, 2023

When the war in GAZA started, sisters Aliya Fastman and Shaendl Davis decided to turn their cooking studio, Citrus & Salt, into Citizen’s Kitchen. This meal operation provides hearty, warm meals to soldiers and displaced families. 

“We knew we had to do something to help our country and our people,” Fastman told the Journal. “In regular times my sister and I run a cooking studio for tourists and locals in Tel Aviv, so using our existing skills and resources seemed like an obvious answer.” 

Aliya Fastman and Shaendl Davis

Along with private chef Alon Sharaby, the sisters gathered volunteers and donors. Then they got cooking. Citizen’s Kitchen by Citrus & Salt cooks six days a week, averaging between 400 and 500 meals a day.

“Hundreds of volunteers have come together to make this happen by prepping and cooking food, delivering packages across the country and writing uplifting messages on each meal,” Fastman said. 

They have also raised more than $50,000 to fund these efforts.

“The volunteer spirit in Israel countrywide has been wonderful to see,” Fastman said. “People are truly coming together and putting aside all their differences just to help each other as much as they can.” 

She added, “I am overwhelmed and grateful for the support for this operation and hope the momentum keeps going so that we can continue providing meals as long as we need to.”

Citizen’s Kitchen also collaborates with World Central Kitchen, a global organization on the ground in Israel. World Central Kitchen helps Citizen’s Kitchen connect with displaced families in the north and south, so they can send meals to those in need.

“It is truly amazing to see how Citizen’s Kitchen has evolved,” Sharaby told the Journal. “People are amazing and willing to volunteer and help, they surprise me every day.”

Davis, and her partners, find the selflessness of the volunteers amazing. 

“So many people are giving so much of their time and energy to help,” Davis told the Journal. “Particularly in the beginning when we were still getting our bearings and things were a bit more chaotic: they stuck with us, rolled with the punches and have continued to always show up and step up in any way that is asked of them.”

Originally from Berkeley, California, Fastman and Davis made aliyah around 2015, a few months apart. 

As an olim (immigrant) initiative, Citizen’s Kitchen operates in English and has volunteers from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, France, Australia, England and more. The high value placed on community is a tenet from their cooking school, as well. 

“We have offered free group therapy sessions in English, a yoga and breathwork class to help people calm their nervous systems,” Fastman said. “[We] hope to continue offering different healing modalities to help people process their trauma and strengthen their community bonds during these difficult times.” 

Citizen’s Kitchen also has a partnership with the owners of Hamashbir Bar, who generously hosted the initiative in their restaurant for the first three weeks, until they found a larger space. They have been holding weekly Shabbat dinners, including a large one the Friday after Thanksgiving.

The trio plans to expand their community offerings, which serves as a place for olim and native Israelis to come together. 

“In the first days after the Hamas massacre, people were frightened and looking for someplace to help and be together in their grief,” Fastman said. “Citrus and Salt, now Citizen’s Kitchen, provided a place where they could focus their energy on something positive and avoid looking at the news all day.”

“Our mantra is ‘You don’t need to be a soldier to serve Israel’ and the volunteers’ spirit very much reflects that belief.”- Aliya Fastman 

She added, “Our mantra is ‘You don’t need to be a soldier to serve Israel’ and the volunteers’ spirit very much reflects that belief.” 

 “When the war started I felt bad not being able to help,” said Sharaby, who was released from the army. He said he had to find a way to be productive. 

“Shifting the whole cooking studio into a war kitchen for soldiers and families was just the right thing to do,” he said. “It has given me a meaningful purpose during this time.”

For more information and/or to donate, go to Citrusandsaltcooking.com and follow @citizens.kitchen and @citrusandsaltcooking on Instagram.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Dear Candace Owens (Part 2)

Most recently, in a podcast and three, well, rants, you accuse a segment of Jews of being dishonest, disgusting, manipulative, thugs, and Marxists. 

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.