Stories from the Table: DAHLIA CEDARBEUM and TALIA EGLAN

When the pandemic’s lockdown first began, many people look for different hobbies and project ideas to make use of their time staying at home. For Dahlia Cedarbum – a Senior in Bethesda-Chevy Chase high school, she decided to start a meaningful project of baking treats over the weekend and donating them to local organizations and shelters, one of which is Shepherd’s Table.

Dahlia shared that the project’s idea came from the adults at her synagogue, where charity and volunteer work are always encouraged. The leader of her youth group shared a list of project ideas around to encourage everyone to make use of their stay-at-home time and Dahlia saw “baking treats” as an option on the list. “I have always enjoyed cooking and baking, so this project idea immediately piqued my interest,” Dahlia said.

Soon after Dahlia started her project, Talia Egnal also joined in. Talia is a Freshman in Blair high school and also goes to the same synagogue with Dahlia. She has been friends with Dahlia for years and shares the same love for baking. “I have always baked. I can’t remember when it first started, but I remember seeing a picture of me baking cookies in my home’s kitchen when I was only six years old. Since then, I have always been my family’s designated baker. Baking is what I love and enjoy,” Talia shared. Her favorite treat to make is chocolate sprinkle cookies. Together, Dahlia and Talia have baked over 180 treats, from cookies to brownies, every weekend to donate. Since the beginning of March, Dahlia and Talia have donated over 3,500 baked goods.

After seeing the project’s success, Dahlia decided to share about it on her neighborhood’s announcement board, which quickly grabbed the attention of many people. Since then, the project also received around 250-300 baked goods in addition from their neighbors. Every weekend, Dahlia and Talia’s parents would help drop these donations off at different local shelters and organizations, including Shepherd’s Table. In addition to that, Dahlia’s brother – Louie Cedarbeum started a GoFundMe campaign for Shepherd’s Table and has raised $1,075 as of today.

Last month, Dahlia started a club called “Baking for The Better” to continue the project at her school. Almost 80 people joined in every week to bake at their homes for a good cause. Since then, the club has baked and donated over 1,000 treats. With so many people joining and helping, Dahlia has started looking into expanding the type of items that her club can make to donate. As for Talia, she is looking into starting a similar club at her school.

When asked about their future goals for the project, both Dahlia and Talia shared that they hope to continue this project even during the non-COVID-19 time. “There is a massive food insecurity almost everywhere and it has become worse since the pandemic started. Food has become harder to get, as more and more people are becoming unemployed due to the pandemic. It’s really great to see how we are able to help and how so many other people want to help as well. Therefore, we think it’s really great if we could continue this project even when the pandemic is over.” Talia said.

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