Doreet Jehassi started making and selling Yemenite Jewish breads out of her home kitchen a few years ago. She now offers a variety of baked goods and other Yemenite/Israeli specialties for pickup and delivery at The Ma’lawah Bar, which operates out of The Food Oasis, a new kosher food hall at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto. Doreet is grateful for Hebrew Free Loan’s interest-free business loan that made it possible to expand her cottage industry into a full-scale business.

“The interest-free business loan from Hebrew Free Loan made my dream a reality. It allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and go for it!”

Doreet wasn’t always in the food industry. The Ma’lawah Bar reflects her personal journey — both geographically and professionally — to find the place she truly belongs. Doreet grew up on Long Island in a family that immigrated from Israel after the Six-Day War. After high school she returned to Israel, where she went to college, met her husband, and started her family. Eventually they moved back to the U.S. and settled in Silicon Valley, home to a large community of Israeli expatriates.

Before starting The Ma’lawah Bar, Doreet managed graphic communications in the high-tech industry, but she was unfulfilled by the work. Now, preparing these traditional recipes that she learned cooking alongside her mother as a young girl and with her aunts in Israel, Doreet has found a satisfying creative outlet that feels deeply meaningful to her.

For Israelis living abroad, the flaky pancake called ma’lawah is a taste of home that’s not easy to find in the Bay Area. For Doreet, her kitchen is a place where she feels connected to both her Yemenite/Israeli heritage and her local Jewish community. She makes all the deliveries herself, because she appreciates seeing how much these foods that they grew up eating mean to her customers. She also loves introducing these dishes to others who’ve never tried them before.

By sharing the foods that were at the center of her family’s life as a child, Doreet has found a way to keep her cultural heritage alive and build community at the same time. She has also turned her passion for cooking into a viable business.

Check out The Ma’lawah Bar’s menu, to get a sense of the treats that await. In addition to ma’lawah, Doreet offers a variety of breads, wraps, and dips. The Friday menu includes Yemenite kubaneh buns and Yemenite-style chicken soup.

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