My son is currently studying at a yeshiva in Jerusalem. Like many young men and women at the start of their gap years, he often complained about the food. I did not pay too much attention at first, thinking he just needed to get used to institutional fare, until I saw a photo of him and some friends on a tiyul. OMG! He’s gotten so skinny!! This was pretty early on, and I feared that if it continued, he would be back to his birth weight by Chanukah.
Cue the Internet. Where could I find something delicious to send to my son, whose 18th birthday was fast approaching? I am not sure who pointed me in the direction of Mak’s Bake Shop, but let me give you a shout out right now. I reached out on Facebook and was directed to the bake shop’s website. I decided on a package of chocolate chip cookies, which are my son’s absolute favorite, and sent an email which resulted in the following exchange:
“Hi. It’s Jill Kirsch. We messaged on Facebook today. I would love to send my son chocolate chip cookies.”
“Hi, Jill. I’m not sure whether we will be able to do Old City deliveries until after Sukkot (my son’s birthday was on the first day of yom tov). Feel free to check in with me and I will let you know,” was the immediate reply.
My response? “If you are able to deliver to the Old City before Sukkot, please let me know. Otherwise, I’ll reach out again. I saw a pic of my son. He’s getting too skinny - needs chocolate chip cookies!! :)”
The next day I received the following email: “Hi, Jill. Package is in [the yeshiva] office. I got [your son]’s phone number from the office and sent him a text. I will try calling him later, but if you speak to him please let him know there’s a package in the office for him so he can fatten up a little bit on Aviya’s cookies!”
Yes, you read that right. The delivery was made without Mak’s Bake Shop taking any payment from me in advance! The owner knew my son’s name and the name of the yeshiva. That’s it. He realized that he would be making an Old City delivery, but it was during the night here in the States, so he just delivered the cookies to my son.
Who does that??? From numerous Facebook posts and emails, I have now learned that for Meir Klahr and his wife, Aviya, proprietors of Mak’s Bake Shop, this is fairly common practice. The couple goes out of their way to keep gap year students connected to family at home, through deliveries which always come with a photo of the student and his or her package being sent to the very grateful parents.
According to Meir, “We know it is important for a parent who is so far away from their child to be able to keep connected. I feel disappointed when I am unable to help them out and get such satisfaction from making these deliveries.”
Shoshana Poloner of Teaneck praised the Klahrs. “We found out about him last year when our son was in yeshiva and we have been using him for the last year and a half. He is such a pleasure to deal with! The kids and hosts that we send the packages to have said the pastries are amazing and, honestly, he is such a mentsch! My favorite part is the pic he sends of the kids when they get the package.”
The Klahrs have been baking and selling cakes and cookies for close to 20 years, growing from a small business run out of their home kitchen to a much larger enterprise. According to Meir, the baking is “all Aviya.” “She is very particular about what goes into her cakes. Quality is most important and we can’t scale up the business end because she is afraid the quality will decline,” he said.
Mak’s (an acronym for Meir and Aviya Klahr) is now based out of an industrial kitchen adjacent to the Klahr home in Beitar, and its kashrut is under the supervision of the Vaad Hakashrut of Beitar. Aviya bakes certain staple items, which are always in high demand, including amaretto cake; cinnamon cake; banana chip cake; apple, blueberry or cherry crumb cake; and chocolate drizzle cake, which is a mock babka, along with other pastries and cookies.
“If you want a fancy cake, we are not the place for you. But if you want a delicious homemade cake, Aviya’s are the best,” Meir gushed.
The cookies and cakes aren’t just sent to gap year students, however. As word has spread, Aviya’s desserts are being sent as gifts for Rosh Hashana, Chanukah and as part of mishloach manot on Purim. Additionally, many people use Aviya’s cakes as Shabbat gifts, or as dessert in their own homes.
“I have been a customer for many years. Their cakes, cookies and muffins are wonderful. Aviya and Meir are the nicest people that you can find. Excellent baked goods and wonderful service. My guests always ask me if it’s home baked. My answer as is ‘yes, but not by me,’” commented Dassie Bistricer, who resides in Baka.
In addition, Meir brings cakes to the Lone Soldier Center In Memory Of Michael Levin every Thursday. The deliveries are sponsored by individuals, companies and organizations in the U.S., who often include words of encouragement to the soldiers. In fact, Cong. Shomrei Torah in Fair Lawn sponsored Mak’s desserts at the annual lone soldier barbecue. Mak’s Bake Shop is always looking for additional sponsors to help keep this chesed going.
By Jill Kirsch