The Bake Shop, Cincinnati
Founded in 1929, the Bake Shop, a Jewish bakery in Cincinnati, employed over thirty women in need of work. Funded by the United Jewish Social Agencies, the Bake Shop served the Walnut Hills and Avondale communities for upwards of forty years. Recipe cards from the Bake Shop, preserved at the American Jewish Archives, reveal Jewish cuisines coexisting and intermingling with American and Christian classics – such as a recipe for Easter cookies. The recipes themselves are stained but preserved, some still holding the scent of the bakery in their folds. Handwritten notes and adaptations written into the margins reveal the ever-changing and ever-growing recipes themselves not just as food items but as representations of the American Jewish experience.
The demand for jobs filled by the Bake Shop was entirely related to the atmosphere of the Great Depression, but it also represented the combining of Jewish values and American culture. By preserving classic Jewish recipes and blending them with American cuisines, the bakery created space for Jewish immigrants to reconcile to their new environment. It also served as a space for tikkun olam – serving the needs of an immigrant community. The bakery informs our understanding of Jewish assimilation into American culture, as well, as the shop remained open on Saturdays (the Jewish Sabbath) but closed on Sundays (the Christian Sabbath).