|The bakers' personal stories told here trace the development of local bread making. This process followed two distinct routes: personal home-baking expertise and commercial bread production. The two combine here to reveal a whole chapter in the political, economic, and social history of the Jewish communities in the Land of Israel, from the end of the nineteenth century until the present day.
Women in the Old Yishuv prepared their dough at home and baked it in the neighborhood oven, which became a lively local meeting place. To make a living, a few enterprising women installed an oven at home and began to bake bread for sale, marking the beginning of commercial bread production. The waves of immigration that arrived in the following years brought with them a variety of new types of bread, and many communities preserved their home-baking traditions. At the same time, professional bakers established family and neighborhood bakeries that improved the standard of local bread making. The need to provide an ever-growing population with bread led to the emergence of large commercial bakeries that gradually swallowed up local baking businesses. As bread became a mass-produced commodity, the production process was automated.
In recent decades, the rise in the standard of living and increasing exposure to the West have resulted in a demand for "health breads" and "natural breads" made with sourdough in traditional ways. This nostalgia for traditional baking methods has also revived interest in ethnic breads and caused a renaissance in ethnic baking.
Arye Elner, Kibbutz Ein Hashofet Bakery
1984 Courtesy of Ein Hashofet Archive