One of Afikomen's popular #WhatsCookingForShabbos videos on Instagram
One of Afikomen's popular #WhatsCookingForShabbos videos on Instagram

Sababa expands; Afikomen’s ‘What’s Cooking for Shabbos’ is an Instagram hit

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

Nell Mahgel-Friedman was in need of inspiration for social media posts for Afikomen, the Judaica shop in Berkeley she runs with her husband, Rabbi Chaim Mahgel-Friedman. With Chaim busy in the kitchen preparing Shabbat dinner and not able to help her brainstorm, she asked him, “What’s cooking for Shabbos?” After showing off the meal they had prepared in a short video for Instagram Reels, they said, “That’s what’s cooking for Shabbos!”

When they got 1,900 views in the first week, they knew they were on to something, and #whatscookingforshabbos was born.

A year later, the idea is still going; a pre-Passover post has been viewed over 11,500 times.

“I knew this was going to be a big one, but the interest in our haimish Passover prep blew me away,” said Nell. Since they don’t use their phones on the holiday, she was stunned to find their #whatscookingforshabbospesach Reel had been viewed by so many people.

A lot of people are home Friday afternoons, according to Nell, looking for inspiration in what to cook for Shabbat, “or wanting to connect to the Shabbos vibe.”

“People recognize us, and the kids, from the Reel,” she said. “And it even brings people into the store to purchase items to enhance their Shabbos at home.”

“That’s the part I like best,” Chaim said, “when people feel empowered to try something new because they’ve seen us do it.”

If you’re in need of a little Shabbat dinner inspiration, head over to Afikomen’s Instagram account to see #whatscookingforshabbos, though it’s worth noting that no cooking instructions are offered. It’s more of a view of the completed dishes the Maghel-Friedmans will be eating or serving to guests. If you like the looks of their Tahini Roasted Broccoli, say, you’ll have to either go on the Afikomen website to find the recipe or drop by the store to ask how they make it.

Last week, the Emeryville Eye announced that Sababa Israeli Street Food — the fast-casual San Francisco place that makes pita fresh in front of you — will be opening an outpost in the Bay Street Mall. We first wrote about its chef-owner, Israeli American chef Guy Eshel, in June 2016 when he opened the first of three S.F. downtown locations. Sababa has been shut during the pandemic, with only one location reopening thus far.

Guy Eshel at his downtown falafel joint Sababa (Photo/David A.M. Wilensky)
Guy Eshel at Sababa in 2016 (Photo/David A.M. Wilensky)

Peter Levitt, co-owner of Saul’s Deli in Berkeley, has traveled to Poland, where he is volunteering with World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that feeds people in disaster zones around the world. Volunteers are operating in makeshift kitchens cooking for Ukrainian refugees, according to the deli’s Instagram account, which posted a photo of him on April 25 assembling sandwiches.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."