Hamantaschen with the colors of the Ukrainian flag. (Photo/JTA-Instagram-chopsticksmeetfork)
Hamantaschen with the colors of the Ukrainian flag. (Photo/JTA-Instagram-chopsticksmeetfork)

Hamantaschen for Ukraine: local bakers raise dough for war relief

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Food coverage is supported by a generous donation from Susan and Moses Libitzky.

Some fundraisers for Ukraine are raising in the five figures, or the six figures. Others, though, are a little more modest.

The East Bay’s Market Hall Foods is one of many establishments across the country — and the globe — joining the “Hamantaschen for Ukraine” movement.

Bakers who want to help Ukrainians in need are making and selling the Purim pastry and donating a portion of profits to Polish Humanitarian Action, which is helping refugees at the Polish border. (Of the now estimated 2 million refugees from Ukraine, half have gone to Poland.)

From March 14 to 17, Market Hall will donate 20 percent of sales from hamantaschen to the nonprofit.

“This is a small token of what we can do,” said Market Hall’s retail director Juliana Uruburu.

Besides the two Market Hall locations (in Berkeley and Oakland) and a host of Los Angeles bakeries, Swell Bicycles in San Francisco also participated over the weekend; Green Mary’s in Walnut Creek sold out of preorders for “Hamantaschen for Ukraine,” and Joliene Bakery in San Luis Obispo is also turning out the Purim sweets to benefit Ukrainian causes.

Micah Siva, the San Francisco-based Jewish food Instagrammer, has a special passion for hamantaschen but doesn’t have her own bakery, so she can’t bake and sell them. Still, she found a way to promote “Hamantaschen for Ukraine” in her own manner by raffling off three baskets of goodies.

“I reached out to all of these brands that I have some sort of connection with, or that I love,” she said.

People who donate to Polish Humanitarian Action can send Siva proof and she’ll enter their names to win items such as gourmet halva or a Jewish-themed dog sweater.

“If it’s $1, it’s $100, it’s $200 — whatever someone wants to donate,” she said. The raffle runs through Purim on March 17.

“Hamantaschen for Ukraine” was dreamed up by Laurel Kratochvila, the Jewish American owner of Fine Bagels in Berlin, who was distressed by what she saw happening on the news.

“My husband was raised in Czechoslovakia in the post-’68 Russian occupation and we were both heartbroken –– him even more so,” Kratochvila told JTA.

Since Kratochvila founded the movement at the end of February, it has been spreading by word of mouth and across baking social media, which is where Siva said she heard about it.

While “Hamantaschen for Ukraine” is the Jewish version of a baking fundraiser, there are other non-Jewish versions out there as well, including by Northern Californian bakeries that are raising money through the sale of Ukrainian sweets.

But as Purim approaches, there’s something special about choosing a symbolic Jewish food that represents victory over tyranny. Market Hall always makes Purim hamantaschen, but Uruburu said this year the store is upping the game in order to meet fundraiser demand for the sweets — apricot and raspberry. And while it may be a modest contribution to bake for a cause, at least it’s something Market Hall can do.

“It’s so important that we all share our voice,” Uruburu said.

Maya Mirsky
Maya Mirsky

Maya Mirsky is a J. Staff Writer based in Oakland.