By: Shira Lester, Director of Development and Donor Engagement
I am embarking upon my third month at Holy Blossom Temple and I’m starting to feel at home. Our cautious reopening continues and the administrative offices, while not quite bustling, are certainly humming with activity. I took on this role at Holy Blossom because, in addition to fulfilling my professional goals, I felt that Holy Blossom was a place I would love to come to every day and that has proven to be the case. The recurring theme in my daily interactions with colleagues and congregants, as we tentatively move past COVID, is that we’re back!
Way back in 2016, Rabbi Splansky had an idea about a social enterprise café at Holy Blossom Temple. Through discussion with Les Rothschild, Vice President, Kehillah Kedoshah (Sacred Community), and others, the idea took shape – the creation of a social enterprise that would operate from the Café on the first floor. The enterprise would train and employ members of the neurodiverse community and would be called Holy Grounds. Les began his inquiries and was introduced to Naomi Azrieli with whom he began the initial conversations. Naomi was inspired by her brother Rafi to support such a social enterprise. She was looking for just the right space. Meetings took place, discussions ensued and Naomi agreed that Holy Grounds could be the perfect launchpad for her vision of several social enterprises in different locations, all training and employing members of the neurodiverse population. Naomi envisioned steaming cups of coffee accompanied by aromatic, warm-from-the-oven baked goods, all being prepared fresh and sold by Holy Grounds at the Café. Holy Blossom has a kitchen off the Mishkan on the second floor, but no oven. Naomi saw the kitchen, saw the potential of Holy Grounds, and became interested in bringing the project to fruition. Fast forward through a two-year pandemic, continued conversations, and thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Azrieli-Blanc family, the second-floor kitchen will have a new oven and stovetop units, and Holy Grounds is coming soon! We are grateful to the Azrieli-Blanc family for this inspirational sponsorship and for partnering with Holy Blossom Temple on this meaningful enterprise.
I have a picture in my mind of morning drop-off at the Early Childhood Centre or Religious School on Sundays. Mummys, Daddys, and Caregivers deposit the kids and pop over to Holy Grounds in the Café. They pick up a delicious latte and a muffin and linger to chat. If it’s Friday, there will be freshly baked challah to purchase. While this vision is still a little while off, Holy Grounds is opening soon! Please come back to Holy Blossom Temple on Sunday, April 24 between 9:30 am and 12:30 pm, and join me and Holy Grounds for a cup of coffee.
The Café is dedicated by Harley Mintz, Judy Nyman, and Family.