For the greater good
I have been hearing slogans for the last two years “For the greater good.” For the greater good you wear a mask, you lock yourself in the house, you do not visit family or friends, you do not go to religious service and you keep your children out of school. Nothing is understood.
Our big kitchen is Los Angeles
But when I heard about Our Big Kitchen Los Angeles (OBKLA) and I volunteered for three hours at their Los Angeles venue, preparing and packing hot meals for the 200 kosher * (* food cooked to meet Jewish law requirements). That’s when I realized what “For the greater good” Meaning and you feel social grace and it makes you feel really good.
OBKLA is the preparation of hot meals for the needy. But it’s more than that. Once you volunteer, it gives a person a sense of community. It brings together people – very young, young and adults – with a purpose, taking a quick course on how to work together to prepare and pack food. Within three hours, under the direction of the chef, a team of volunteers prepares food from scratch and then packs it in attractive containers arranged in boxes and loads it into the pickup van which runs to deliver it to its designated persons. Site somewhere in Los Angeles.
And I must admit, the food we made was delicious.
Our Big Kitchen (OBK) was founded in Sydney, Australia in February 2005 by Rabbi Dr. David and Laya Slavin. The idea for OBK originated from an experience involving a woman at an Orthodox Jewish seminar known as Yeshiva, where Slavs worked, who became very ill and had the burden of cooking for her family by the community.
The Slavs decided to establish communal cuisine. To do this, they first borrowed a kitchen where kosher food could be prepared. They then hire a team of volunteers to shop, cook and pack food, load and deliver food where needed.
In early 2020, Chaya and Yossi Segelman, originally from Australia, decided to emulate the OKB home base and launched OBK in Los Angeles. Kovid Segelmann realized that providing food was not only essential for the needy but also an opportunity for OBKLA people to come together when social interaction became more difficult but more important than ever.
When you go to the workroom you will feel the cleanliness and order of the place. Volunteers get a company-labeled apron, a mesh to cover hair and gloves, which often changes, and since it’s still the Covid era, a mask.
The instructions were clear, and in a moment those who were first strangers worked together as a team, as if they had been doing this for years.
Menu of the day
The preparation of meals, the best quality ingredients, the cleaning of utensils and often the tables, go hand in hand with a system that produces fast and efficient results. We learned how to cut vegetables to a certain size and quickly; We also learned how to roll meatballs and flour into special shapes to get hungry fruit. Volunteers lined up efficient, virtual assembly lines, prepared, packaged, sealed and sent 200 meals to a center from where food was distributed as needed.
Since it opened its doors, Our Big Kitchen LA has fed thousands of people, which means there is food insecurity in Los Angeles and people are suffering. And the demand is increasing.
OBKLA attracts young and not young volunteers. The kids join their parents and from what I have seen, they become completely immersed in the process, learning the responsibility of helping to prepare meals or to clean the tables thoroughly with a lot of discipline and a sense of community. It’s beautiful when the family volunteers together! Suddenly housework becomes fun.
School group experience
School groups see the experience as an eye-opener and a day of civil service. At the end of the 3-hour meal preparation session, volunteers are asked to take with them a box of cookies that they have prepared and give it to someone who will appreciate it and make his day. That means, “Forward it” To create a ripple effect so that people start thinking about telling others about their OBKLA volunteer experience; The first step “Recruitment” Others volunteer and bring meaningful experiences and results to them.
In general, volunteers are of all ages and backgrounds, united by the feeling of giving back to the community mixed with Chased, which is a Hebrew word meaning kindness or love between people, especially man’s devotional righteousness towards God. As well as love or compassion.
Make connections between people
OBKLA, at least temporarily and for three hours, serves as a bridge to connect people through food as well as a meeting and reception place where people can make new friends in a friendly environment while working together on a common goal. And super-efficient collaboration.
When the volunteers go in, they don’t know each other but they connect at the end of the session because they have to work together to develop an instant team work so that the work is finished on time while the food is hot and then delivered quickly.
Since OBKLA opened its doors in Los Angeles, about 1,800 people have volunteered to prepare food from a variety of menus.
Shadow and Yossi find it inspiring to meet with different volunteers each week. When they come through the door of OBKLA, they do not know what to expect. When they walk, they are promoted. I was raised. Something so different experiences when this experience is humble mixed with a level of enthusiasm. Still, so rich and yes, delicious.
Rolling up your sleeves on a Sunday and giving three hours of loving labor for the good of the community is a worthwhile experience that is not only done once, but also repeated.
There is no charge for volunteering and sponsorship opportunities are certainly available.
OBKLA is now operating from the kitchen rental space. As it expands, Segelmans’ will certainly move to their own advantage and extend working hours outside of a session on Sunday.
I must admit, when I volunteered at OBKLA, it was one of the best Sunday entertainment I’ve ever had.
I suggest anyone reading this story do the same; ‘Our Big Kitchen Los Angeles’ (https://www.obkla.org/) volunteers to help prepare food for the poor and meet like-minded new friends.
Check out OBKLA on Instagram: @obklosangeles