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Time for a mitzvah

Time for a mitzvah

Livingston teens stuck at home get creative with fund-raisers

Molly Nelson with babka she baked to raise money for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. Courtesy Melissa Feldman
Molly Nelson with babka she baked to raise money for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. Courtesy Melissa Feldman

When Molly Nelson was forced home to Livingston from her gap year in Israel due to the spread of the coronavirus, she spent a lot of time in her kitchen cooking and baking. Nelson is a 2019 graduate of The Frisch School in Paramus and was studying at the seminary Midreshet Lindenbaum in Jerusalem.

When back in New Jersey, “I kept seeing so many different people doing different projects to help raise money … and I thought, ‘I’m home and why not do something?’” she told NJJN.

Nelson was baking challah frequently using her aunt’s recipe and it got rave reviews from her family, so she used the dough to develop a chocolate babka. She sold the loaves for $15 each for a pre-Shavuot fund-raiser and raised $280 for the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

Nelson said she intentionally picked a recipe that was “something special that I can do that’s not such a simple dessert.”

Her project sent her parents, Melissa Feldman and Ariel Nelson, on a hunt to buy ingredients, including flour and yeast, two items that have been in short supply during the pandemic.

“Finding all the ingredients was a long process,” she said, but she learned how to use fresh blocks of yeast — sometimes the only kind available — perfected her chocolate filling and crumb topping, and managed to bake 18 loaves.

Nelson said she’ll continue her baking project and is considering donating to an organization in memory of her grandmother Eva Nelson, who died June 5.

Molly Nelson has been an “inspiration to our community,” said Daphna Ansel who, with her sister Olivia, have been tie-dying sweatshirts and masks to raise money for Friendship Circle, an organization which supports children with disabilities and their families. The Nelson and Ansel families are members of the Synagogue of the Suburban Torah Center in Livingston.

Olivia Ansel, at left, and sister Daphna in masks and sweatshirts they tie-dye and sell to benefit Friendship Circle. Courtesy Ansel Family

Daphna also returned home in March from her seminary, Midreshet Moriah in Jerusalem. She’s a 2019 graduate of Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School (RKYHS) in Livingston, where Olivia is a rising sophomore. Their parents are Michelle and Jacob Ansel.

Daphna bought a tie-dye kit in April as a birthday gift for Olivia and the sisters were impressed with how well their sweatshirts turned out.

“This actually is really cool, I’d wear it out,” Daphna said about their first foray. She told NJJN they were looking for a way to be productive with their time and created “tie dye for charity” to raise money for an organization important to them.

“We both love Friendship Circle,” said Daphna. Daphna volunteered with the organization every Sunday during her four years of high school, and Olivia said the participants in Friendship Circle are “so fun to hang out with.”

The masks cost $5 each; a combination of mask and sweatshirt is $36. To date, they’ve sold 30 sweatshirts and 35 cotton masks and have raised nearly $400 for Friendship Circle. 

“As many orders as we get we will continue selling,” Daphna said. 

To order email

To purchase babka from Molly Nelson, email

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