A Berlin baker has turned to her kitchen to whip up hamantaschen to support Ukrainian refugees fleeing the ongoing Russian invasion.
Laurel Kratochvila, the Jewish-American owner of Fine Bagels, a New York-style bagel shop on Berlin’s East Side, got the idea when she was stuck at home quarantining with covid and spent an entire day watching the news.
“My husband was raised in Czechoslovakia in the post-’68 Russian occupation and we were both heartbroken — him even more so,” Kratochvila said.
That led to a discussion between the two about how they could contribute to the Ukrainian cause. Purim was around the corner, when they would normally be making poppy seed and chocolate hamantaschen anyway, so they decided to launch “Hamantaschen For Ukraine,” and to donate their proceeds to Polish Humanitarian Action. That organization is distributing food, hot drinks, diapers, hygiene products, and blankets, as well as providing information and transportation for newly arrived refugees from Ukraine.
So far, more than 30 home bakers and bakeries from Warsaw to Portland have signed up. A full list of participants can be found under “where to find hamantaschen!” on its site, www.hamantashenforukraine.com.
The response from Jewish bakers across the United States was immediate and decisive. From Los Angeles and Portland to Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City, Jews were eager to lend their hamantaschen to the cause.
Tamar Fasja Unikel, a co-owner of Masa Madre in Chicago, said “coming together with a world of bakers seems ideal to show the world is watching. Purim is a holiday about survival and fight and I hope that people around the world can learn the message.” Masa Madre will sell packs of six hamantaschen featuring its unique flavors this year — Peanut Mazapán, Cajeta Oblea, and Guava Ate — and it will donate a third of all its profits.
Megan Tucker, the owner of the LA-based vegan Jewish deli Mort & Betty’s, also felt compelled to get involved. “Both my grandparents’ families survived and fled Soviet pogroms in Lithuania,” she said. “This part of my family history makes me want to do what I do best to support Ukrainian refugees.”
Kratochvila said she’s overwhelmed by the enthusiastic response from bakers across Europe and the United States who are jumping in, donating their time and energy for this fundraiser.
“I know it’s not going to stop Putin,” she said. “But hopefully, it will help some people who are in a very desperate situation.”