Baking at Sarah House in Santa Barbara
September 20, 2015
“When women put their minds to peace and healing, great good can be accomplished.” — Kathy Rayburn, a member of the Santa Barbara Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom Chapter
On Sunday, September 20, our Sisterhood volunteered to bake for the residents and staff of Sarah House. Sarah House “provides a home and end-of-life care to people of low income.” It continues its original mission by providing for men and women with HIV/AIDS. Additionally, it offers comfort and assistance to family and friends of its residents. It rusts that its community care adds to the growing body of hospice wisdom. All of this is carried out with what is called “extraordinary kindness.”
Each Sister provided a loved recipe from their tradition that they were willing to share and to bake in the kitchen of Sarah House. A shopping list of ingredients was assembled, and Mahela and Judy went shopping! While Santa Barbara is considered paradise, finding ingredients in one place is not an easy exercise, to say the least. Between the two, however, EVERYTHING was acquired.
Recipes were compiled and assembled according to the time required for cooking and baking, and the Sisters went to work.
Kiffaya made Harisi and wrote, “I missed Harisi from my country so badly I called my Mom for her Harisi recipe, and she sent me this one. I have been making it since then, and every member of my family absolutely loves it.” An always favourite Pesach recipe, Judy made a flourless chocolate and pistachio cake from The Book of New Israeli Food. Turanca unrolled phyllo pastry and put together the most amazing Borek. “Borek is a very common pastry that is made in every Turkish household. Borek can be served with a cup of Turkish tea or green salad. My mom used to make borek at every family gathering event. Each time I make it I go back to my unforgettable childhood days.”
Malihe, who nade Sholo zard, was proud to annouce that “making Sholo zard is a vow originating in the 12th century. Imam Sadigh, the sixth generation of the prophet Muhammad, said, during the months of Ragabe and Sha’ban, “Give some sweets to the Imam!” From that time to now, some people during these months make Sholo zard for friends, neighbours and family members.” Mahela’s Autumn Apple Cake, always a hit, “we made up this recipe when we lived in Virginia and picked our own apples at harvest time in October.” And the always popular Rugelach by Kathy, “my husband’s favorite cookie, especially the chocolate!”
The sounds and the smells that wafted through the kitchen reminded us all, in our own way, of our countries of origin and growing up with certain traditions and customs and now we were able to share them with each other and the staff and residents of Sarah House. Deena’s two sons, Ryan and Zeyn, both accomplished pianists, lent their talents in the living room for the residents. What a blessed experience.
A few days later, I had occasion to return to Sarah House and was told that on the Sunday we were baking, a gentleman had been admitted to Sarah House to spend his last moments at Sarah House. His wife kissed him goodbye and returned to their home, 45 miles away, with their son. While we were baking in the kitchen and the boys playing the piano, this gentleman died peacefully in the place he had always wanted to be.
What a blessing for us to have been at Sarah House to experience love, laughter, music, baked goods, each other and peace.