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Guide For Self-Catered Kiddushim Undertaken As Volunteer Group For Shul Community

This document provides suggestions for groups of people who are interested in planning and preparing a kosher, healthy, local and organic self-catered kiddush for the congregation on a Shabbat where there are no bar/bat mitzvahs or other celebratory occasions.  These guidelines are based on experiences with two self-catered kiddushim undertaken in November 2014, and January 2016. They represent a series of “best practices” generated by the volunteers participating in these first two years of this type of event. The shul hopes that different groups of volunteers can produce a self-catered kiddush once or twice a year. The shul’s Food Committee is responsible for overseeing self-catered kiddushim and for providing guidance and support to each volunteer group.  The shul caterer will have the week off when a self-catered kiddush is arranged, but will be available to provide advice to volunteer groups well in advance of their scheduled kiddush date.

1. The call for groups of volunteers to undertake self-catered kiddushim should involve advertisements in the NNet and the Newsletter at least 5 months prior to the kiddush date. As well, Food Committee members can spread the word through informal chats with community members.  Interested individuals can:

  • join a kiddush team lead by and made up of Food Committee members; or
  • form their own volunteer teams comprised of their friends/family; or
  • come forward as an existing shul group, e.g. book club; other interest group.

2. Self-catered kiddush volunteer groups should be comprised of at least five individuals who are prepared to cook for the event. They should include one individual who can act as the coordinator for the group. The coordinator may wish to undertake cooking responsibilities as well, or may function simply as the organizer. When the kiddush is organized by the Food Committee, the Chair of the committee can take on the coordination role.

3. Cost of a self-catered kiddush should not exceed $700.00 including hired set-up and clean-up assistance if the volunteer group is not prepared to undertake these tasks on their own.  The shul will cover the cost of the kiddush up to $700.00. Volunteers should submit all receipts for kiddush ingredients to the office in order to be reimbursed for expenditures. Should volunteer groups wish to cover kiddush costs themselves, the shul will issue charitable donation receipts for all submitted food receipts.

4. Self- catered kiddushim should be designed to feed 120 persons from September-June, and 90 persons during the summer months of July and August. “Rule of thumb” has been to multiply the amount of food produced by a single recipe by a factor of approximately “6” for a crowd of 120.

5. The volunteer team should also provide food for the youth kiddush (from September –June only), not to exceed $40.00. The shul will reimburse youth kiddush costs upon submission of the appropriate receipts. Food served for youth kiddushim should adhere to the food guidelines for youth kiddushim available on the shul’s website.

6. Self-catered kiddushim should maintain the shul’s food principles of kashrut and the use of healthy ingredients all of which are detailed on the shul’s website in the Food section.

7. All food items served at the kiddush must be kosher.  Hechshers are required on all food items with the exception of some organic and unprocessed foods.  There is a list of acceptable non-hechshered foods in a blue folder located in the shul kitchen.  If unsure of hechsher requirements, the volunteer group should ask the Rabbi or the shul caterer for advice.

8. The kiddush team should incorporate organic, unprocessed and local food products into their menu wherever possible. It is understood that the availability of fresh local produce varies according to the time of year. Fair Trade coffee, chocolate and sugar should be used if feasible.

9. The kiddush menu should incorporate fruit, vegetables, protein, and grains.  Hot soups are very appropriate for the cold winter months. One or two of the dishes should be suitable for vegan members of our community. Cooled tap water is served in pitchers. Organic and regular tea and instant coffee is also made available accompanied by milk and sugar.

The 2014 kiddush included: mushroom barley soup, 3 different salads-green leafy; couscous; and beet; gefilte fish; fruit; pita; and butterscotch squares.

The 2016 kiddush consisted of: Greek soup, Greek salad, vegan salad, 3 dips (olive, white bean/red pepper and skordalia), spinach squares, pita, fruit, baklava.

10. Two challahs purchased ready-made from a certified kosher bakery or baked in the shul kitchen using organic ingredients if possible, should be available and placed on the table on the south wall of the social hall, along with water for handwashing and salt. A member of the volunteer team is welcome to make the hamotzi prior to kiddush commencement.

11. All kiddush food must be prepared on site and must be approved by the Rabbi or his designated mashgiach, prior to the commencement of any cooking activity.  The volunteer team should contact the Rabbi well in advance of the kiddush, to establish suitable times for him to approve all of the food entering the shul.

12. It is advisable for the volunteer kiddush team to hold at least two initial meeting several months in advance of the event to:

  • identify roles and responsibilities of team members;
  • develop a menu for the event; and
  • discuss timing of food preparation and other logistics.

The Food Committee has members who are experienced and knowledgeable about kosher, organic, local food sources and food preparation for larger events and are willing to attend an initial volunteer team meeting in an advisory capacity. If available, our shul caterer has also agreed to advise teams of kiddush sponsors in their initial planning stages.

If the Food Committee is taking the lead role in organizing the self-catered kiddush, planning for the event as described above, should take place at the two regular Committee meetings held in advance of the kiddush.  Other community members who have volunteered to participate in the self-catered kiddush should be invited to participate in the Committee’s kiddush planning meetings.

13. Experience with two self-catered kiddushim suggests that the easiest way to organize kiddush preparations is to have individual volunteers or volunteer partners assume the entire responsibility for only one or two dishes on the kiddush menu.  That is, individuals or partners should be responsible for purchasing ingredients, cooking, and plating one or two dishes designed to serve 120 individuals. Collective group purchasing and food preparation has not worked well in the past.

14. The coordinator for the volunteer team should be prepared to:

  • establish the kiddush date in consultation with the shul caterer, ensuring it occurs at a time when the caterer is prepared to take a vacation;
  • book the date with the shul office, ensuring there are no planned simchas which have sponsored kiddushim on the selected date (e.g. bar/bat mitzvahs, baby namings, aufrifs etc.);
  • establish a food preparation schedule for the team, where only one or two volunteers are using the shul kitchen at any one time and communicate with the shul office to ensure the kitchen and social hall spaces are available for scheduled cooking times;
  • if possible, be available on site at the start of volunteers’ cooking times to show them around the kitchen and assist as required; usually involves 1-2 hrs. per day of coordinator’s time on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday prior to the kiddush date;
  • hire kitchen help responsible for setting up, cleaning up and plating food that volunteers have prepared (the shul caterer or Food Committee Chair can recommend appropriate individuals);
  • ensure kitchen help is paid for their services after Shabbat (for the past two years, kitchen help has been paid $100 for approximately 4 hrs. of work);
  • ensure additional volunteers are available the morning of the kiddush to assist hired kitchen help with initial kiddush set-up and clean up; and
  • generally oversee the proceedings during the kiddush itself.

15. All food preparations must be completed by approximately 3:00 P.M. on the Friday prior to the kiddush.  Last volunteer team member in the shul on Friday should ensure:

  • the water in the large coffee maker is plugged in and turned on;
  • soup warming pots (if required) are plugged in and turned on to #7-8;
  • kitchen, social hall and entrance lights to the shul are all left on.

16. Members of the volunteer team should be prepared to assist the hired kitchen help with refilling empty serving bowls throughout the kiddush and with some of the clean-up.  Some volunteers should be prepared to remain in shul until approximately 1:30 P.M. on the day of the kiddush to ensure clean-up is complete.

17. Waste should be placed in appropriate green, recycle and garbage bins located in the kitchen and just outside the kitchen.  Dirty tablecloths and dish towels should be placed in a clear bag in the social hall for shul caretakers.

18. A small amount of kiddush leftovers can be saved for the Sunday morning minyan.  Otherwise perishable leftovers should be removed from the shul after Shabbat is over.


Wed, October 21 2020 3 Cheshvan 5781