In 2018, when Beth Shalom’s Sisterhood initially had the idea to hold a pie baking event that could double as a fundraiser, they expected to get perhaps one or two dozen orders for pies, said Eve Klein, a past president of Beth Shalom’s Sisterhood and a regular leader of the Sisterhood’s cooking events. Instead, they received orders for 70 pies, making it necessary to spread the event out over two days to put together an order nearly three times what they had been expecting.
“Our pie baking is both a social programming activity and a fundraiser,” said Klein, who is co-leading the Sisterhood pie baking events alongside Irva Nachlas-Gabin, a past president of the synagogue as well as a past Sisterhood president. Both are residents of Columbia.
“For years, Sisterhood has held cooking classes and they’ve always been really popular,” Klein continued. “And even people who feel like they don’t have a connection to the synagogue or to other Sisterhood members … will come out to a cooking event.”
The Sisterhood has been holding baking events for the past 20 years, Klein said, often having an annual hamantaschen baking in the springtime. It was not until 2018, though, that the Sisterhood had the idea to do a fundraiser around pies for the autumn.
The pie-baking events are normally done over the course of two days, typically Sundays, Klein said, with this most recent pie event having been scheduled for Oct. 24 and Nov. 14.
The events are open to people of all skill levels, including people who have never baked in their lives. Those who are new to it might peel dozens of pounds of apples while learning how to make crumb pies and making a few friends along the way, Klein said.
In past years, volunteers crowded into Beth Shalom’s dairy kitchen for the baking, Klein said. This year, though, volunteers were spaced out in the congregation’s social hall, where the pies were prepared before being brought to the kitchen stove for baking.
In addition to the social distancing precautions, attendees also had to be masked, Klein said.
As of Oct. 25, the Sisterhood had already sold 68 pies, Klein said in an email. On Oct. 24, 17 volunteers came out to put together 54 pies. The ordering deadline is Nov. 1.
Like all of the Sisterhood’s fundraisers, money raised by the event will go to support Beth Shalom, Klein said.
“Throughout the afternoon it’s a lot of work,” Klein said. “But it’s a lot of fun, because there’s a lot of talking, a lot of back and forth, getting together with old friends, meeting new friends. It’s a great social outing for people.”
Nachlas-Gabin also spoke warmly of the general atmosphere of the annual event.
“We share stories, we gossip, we talk about our kids, we talk about our husbands,” said Nachlas-Gabin, who added that “sometimes the husbands are there, they talk about their wives. We’ve had a few men come.”
Klein noted that people have an easier time connecting with strangers when going to an event that has some sort of activity or project, as opposed to events where they are simply expected to converse with each other.
“We kind of bond over the sugar and apples,” Klein said.