Judy Kempler and Pnina Jacobson
Judy Kempler and Pnina Jacobson Photo by Liz Machan
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Twelve years ago, Pnina Jacobson and Judy Kempler of Sydney, Australia, were stay-at-home moms meeting every morning at the bus stop, sending their young children to school.

They both realized that while they were enjoying taking care of their families they also wanted to find a way of doing something for their community. At the time, Judy was taking care of her late mother-in-law, Viola, and became conscience of all the work needed to help the growing elderly community. Judy and Pnina decided their project would support just that, the Jewish elderly care.

Then they realized they both loved anything that had to do with food and the stories that come with it. It took them 11 years of work, but at the end they had a written and published cookbook, One Egg is a Fortune, which some of the proceeds of its sales help fund facilities for the Jewish aged.

When thinking of a fundraising cookbook, what comes to mind might be that coil-bound collection of recipes many synagogues publish to sell mainly within their own community. But Pnina and Judy were way more ambitious. They contacted Jewish celebrities from around the world asking them to contribute their food stories.

They hired an award-winning photographer, a stylist and designer, and instead of the traditional list of recipe they came up with a hip and modern collection of recipes, including strawberry & baby spinach salad, very wild rice & corn salad and fish quenelles with two sauces to replace that predictable gefilte fish. They also financed the project themselves.

Is such a project worth the effort and the resources invested? The book already won three international book awards; Silver medal from Independent Publisher Book Award, first place from Gourmand International in the fund raising category from Australia/Pacific, and just this week it won the best general cookbook prize at The National Indie Excellence Book Awards in the U.S.

These awards will most probably not only guarantee its continuous success, but will also help sell the book outside Judy and Pnina’s immediate community. Until now, the book has been sold mainly in Australia, but is already available in the U.S. via their website and a few stores. The two plan to focus now on increasing sales in the U.S.

Pnina and Judy sell the books to Jewish organizations who try like to raise money for Jewish elderly care. They sell the books at cost-price, leaving any profit to the organizationfor supporting eldercare in their local community. They prefer to dedicate the sales to a specific cause, so they know exactly where the money goes.

Thanks to their ambitious vision, Judy and Pnina managed to collect some 50 Jewish food memories from around the world. The list of contributors includes Chaim Topol, Alan Dershowitz, Dudu Fisher, Martin Indyk and many more. One of their favorite stories is from Itamar Rabinovich. The former Israeli ambassador to the United States tells how as the chief negotiator with Syria under Yitzhak Rabin’s government in 1992 he used Israeli made Elite Turkish coffee to break the ice with the distant Syrians counterparts.

Some contributors suggested a recipe, and some even sent their favorite, but Judy and Pnina wanted to keep the modern theme of the book so they gave their own interpretations for most recipes and came up with many new ones. Chaim Topol, who wanted a gefilte fish recipe next to his story got a tempting contemporary version - with an optional dill or red pepper sauce.

An inspiration for your synagogue’s next fundraising cookbook?