Clarification: This article may indicate that there was a Rabbinical entity taking responsibility for koshering the kitchen. To clarify, the students themselves are responsible for ensuring the kitchen is kosher.
Lemon lavender, blushing peach, roasted strawberry pistachio: these are just some of the unique flavors for sale through the Bayit’s new hamantaschen bake, Not Your Bubbe’s Hamantaschen.
The Bayit, the Jewish Culture House on campus, has started a new project to bake and sell unique flavors of hamantaschen around the Jewish holiday of Purim.
The holiday of Purim commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from genocide in the ancient Achaemenid Persian Empire.
The holiday has evolved into a day of giving. People traditionally give hamantaschen, or “Haman’s pockets,” filled cookies that refer to the empire official who planned the genocide.
Jacob Shaw, a junior living at the Bayit, brings the idea for a mass-hamantaschen bake to Tufts from his hometown of Glencoe, Ill.
“Our claim to fame is these really sort of creative and eclectic flavors,” Shaw said. “Every one [flavor] is inspired by an actual person and what would make them smile.”
Several of the unique flavors available for purchase are linked with different charities.
“For those with the specific charities, 50% of profit is then donated to those charities,” Shaw said.
The remaining profits go toward funding future Bayit activities.
The members of the Bayit worked to coordinate the charities with the hamantaschen flavors. The profits of apple hamantaschen go to education, and lemon lavender’s profits go to The Trevor Project to support LGBT+ rights. A comprehensive list of charities can be found on their website.
Aviva Michaeli, house manager of the Bayit, was excited when Shaw suggested the idea.
“We were all proposing ideas for events that we could kind of have open to the public, and Jacob Shaw br[ought] this project from back home where he does this hamantaschen baking with his family every year, and he thought it would be a really fun and great idea to bring it to the Bayit,” Michaeli, a sophomore, said.
Shaw hoped to bring a new project to campus that would have a broad impact.
“We want to really do something fun reaching campus-wide,” Shaw said.
Each of the unique flavors has a story behind them, and a special meaning for Shaw.
“The first one that I developed was the apple one. It’s good. Nobody does apple hamantaschen, but it’s like a little apple pie cookie. I have never seen anyone bite into that and not smile, so that means we’ve done our job,” Shaw said.
Apple is also one of the flavors Michaeli is most excited to try.
The two don’t agree on all flavors though. Michaeli said, “I usually go for the poppyseed flavor.” However, according to Shaw, “No one wants the poppyseed.”
Regardless of people’s individual views on poppyseed, it, along with the other traditional flavors of prune and raspberry, are available for order through the website.
First-year student Max Album, who learned about the project through a poster at mail services, is excited to try the new flavors.
“They have a lemon one that seems pretty good, and they have a chocolate one, it’s chocolate-covered … Yeah, that one looks really good,” Album said.
Album has already placed his own order for 20 hamantaschen.
“I’m just going to share them with my friends,” Album said.
The website also has a page for people to submit their own flavor ideas.
“If there are other charities that people would like to have us donate to, they can submit a flavor and a charity that goes along with it,” Shaw said.
Although one of the only dietary restrictions that Not Your Bubbe’s Hamantaschen currently accommodates is for those who keep kosher, the Bayit is open to evolving.
“In the future if there are people who say, I really want gluten-free or vegan hamantaschen, and they have a solid idea, submit it to our flavor cut. You might win a whole box. We’re very open-minded about the whole thing,” Shaw said.
All of the hamantaschen will be baked in the Bayit.
“All of the students in the house are coming together to do this. We’re spending a week. At night I’m going to be making the fillings, and then we’re going to make the cookies,” Shaw said.
“We are bringing in Rabbi Tzvi and Chanie Backman of Chabad to help us fully kosher the kitchen so it’s kosher for those that keep kosher,” said Shaw.
In terms of the Bayit students who will be making the hamantaschen, “We like to bake as like, a break from our studies, so I think it will be a welcome break from all the studying we’ll have to do,” Michaeli said.
In his hometown, Shaw and his family normally bake around 500 hamantaschen each year. He’s not sure how many will be ordered by the Tufts community this year, but Shaw said, “We are prepared to take on as many orders as we get.”
“Some of the logistics had to do with getting in touch with the person who gives us the P-card — the card that funds our events — and just buying supplies,” Michaeli said.
Shaw himself is also used to large-scale projects and pragmatic planning from his role as President of Tufts Chabad, a center for Jewish culture and religious life.
Shaw made clear that the purpose of the project is to bring people together and make people happy, not converting people.
“We’re not trying to impose religion on people, we’re not trying to impose traditions, we are observing our traditions of making people happy. That is a mitzvah, that is a good deed for us to do,” Shaw said.
This is the first year the Bayit has done a hamantaschen bake, but they have high hopes that it will be a success.
“I don’t think they’ve done a hamantaschen bake before, so this is hopefully something we can continue even next year,” Michaeli said.
And should the project continue into the future, Shaw has no problem continuing to share his family’s recipes.
“If I can make a new house of people and by extension a whole next generation of Tufts campus-wide students happy, of course I would,” Shaw said.
Preordering closes on Feb. 29, so anyone who wants to order these unique hamantaschen will have to do so before then.
All of the hamantaschen are available for purchase and preorder at notyourbubbe.com. The hamantaschen will be available for pickup or delivery the week of March 9.
Ultimately, the goal of this project is to bring joy to the Tufts campus.
“The whole idea is just making people happy: making people happy and giving,” Shaw said.