Community rolls out support for Operation Hamantaschen

by | Mar 6, 2015 | Other News

The culinary and creative efforts of the Tidewater Jewish community filled bodies and souls over the Purim holiday this year.

An estimated 150 people of all ages came to the Sandler Family Campus on Sunday, Feb. 15 to participate in Operation Hamantaschen. The annual event is devoted to Jewish members of the United States military—and the making, baking and sending of hamantaschen, the traditional cookies associated with the holiday.

By the time the last volunteers rolled down their sleeves, more than 2,000 of the triangular, fruit-filled cookies had been boxed, bagged and were ready to be delivered locally, or shipped to bases in the United States and to recipients around the world.

“I liked that we were actually doing something to help others and it was something I could do with my daughter that wasn’t in front of a screen,” says Wendy Juren Auerbach, who attended with her daughter, Lily.

“I saw people that I usually don’t see at events like this, I got to meet new people, and I got to spend time with old friends,” Auerbach says. “It showed everyone that they’re an important part of this community, and I think it was really a success.”

Families came with children and friends in tow. BBYO teens, young professionals, retirees and veteran hamantaschen bakers were present. Members from all congregations and religions helped out, working alongside each other to draw, to bake and to occasionally taste the cookies.

The Young Adult Division of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and the Simon Family JCC Department of Children and Families presented Operation Hamantaschen. Any extra cookies were shared with Jewish Family Service of Tidewater, to distribute them to their clients.

“Based on years past and our RSVPs, we expected maybe 100 people to come,” says Stephanie Steerman, chair of the event.

“We were surprised when so many more came, but really happy, and I’m glad we had the ability to make more dough!” Steerman says.

“This is one small way we can show the military how much the Tidewater Jewish community supports and appreciates them. I think everyone enjoyed themselves and had a great time doing a mitzvah, and demonstrating to our children the meaning of tzedakah—of giving to others.”

In addition to making cookies, volunteers decorated cardboard cookie boxes and created Happy Purim and thank you cards. These cards were sent to U.S. troops, and to Israel Defense Forces Lone Soldiers, too, in time for last week’s festival of Purim.

“Lone Soldiers usually don’t have any family in Israel, and having kind words, or even a child’s drawing, can lift their spirits and keep them going,” says Benyamin Yaffe, YAD programming associate.

“We wanted to show as many people as possible that we were thinking of them this Purim, and the community did that, in so many ways, at this year’s Operation Hamantaschen,” says Yaffe.

To see more photos from Operation Hamantaschen, visit

by Laine Mednick Rutherford