The Baking Project: Food, mitzvot and tzedakah


Paula Goldberg, a member of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence, started a baking project seven years ago, when she was a member of the West Bay Community Jewish Center.

She asked volunteer bakers to prepare a double batch of dessert and get it to her by the second Tuesday of every month. Then, she and her husband, Michael, took whatever was delivered to McAuley House, an agency in Providence that serves 300 people lunch daily.

Goldberg said, “That project grew from initially seven bakers in the first month in 2015 to over 40 bakers now.

“When the pandemic started, McAuley House was not able to accept home-baked items, but Barbara Dwares discovered that Help the Homeless RI would, and needed them once a week to add to lunches they were giving out, so the baked goods went to them.

“McAuley House is once again accepting home-baked desserts, so now the donated baked goods are going to both agencies. Since not all bakers bake every week, more bakers are always welcome, especially since we are trying to provide desserts for both organizations.”

Dwares, who belongs to Temple Emanu-El and the Chabad of West Bay Chai Center, in Warwick, said when the pandemic prevented them from bringing desserts to McAuley House, they collected and donated shelf-stable food instead.

“Hungry people are still hungry … whether there is a pandemic or not,” Dwares said. “We started bringing non-perishable shelf-stable food items to McAuley House, as they were willing and happy to take those things to give out in their food pantry.

“In the last two months, since the decrease of COVID-19, donations of shelf-stable foods as well as baked goods are accepted by both McAuley House and Help the Homeless RI.”

Both women said they found the project easy and important.

“I enjoy baking. Food is such a gift. I feel like I am so lucky that I have enough. And I want to share what I have. This is an easy thing to share. Most people are very happy to get baked goods,” Goldberg said.

Dwares added, “I agree. We also both have a creative side. Paula sews and I have done crafts and many cooking projects in the past. I also look at cooking as a creative source or outlet. I feel very productive when I have made a big pot of soup and when I can share it. It makes me happy that people like it and that it is healthy and nutritious.”

Dwares said she is also carrying on her sons’ legacy.

“Both my boys cooked when we did mitzvah projects. They learned from us and we learned from them,” she said.

While the women said that the project was, for them, about giving tzedakah and doing a mitzvah, they were surprised by the level of community support.

“During the pandemic I was absolutely amazed, in a positive way, how kind and generous people were with their time, their effort and their money, especially when it was very scary to go into markets … and yet the donations were flowing every day,” Dwares said.

To join the baking project, contact Paula Goldberg at 401-941-2042 or Barbara Dwares at

401-474-8276 or

PATRICIA RASKIN, owner of Raskin Resources Productions, is a media host, coach and award-winning radio producer and business owner. She is on the board of directors of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence. She is a recipient of the Providence Business News 2020 Leaders and Achievers award.