Let’s Bench Spotlight: Adeena Sussman

Let's Bench Spotlight Series

Let's Bench Spotlight Series will be showcasing lifecycle event related brands every month to establish recognition. Contact us to have your company featured.


Adeena Sussman divides her time between Tel Aviv and New York and is writing an Israeli cookbook to be published by Avery Books in 2019. She is also the author of Tahini, and co-author of ten cookbooks including the New York Times #1 best-selling Cravings by Chrissy Teigen and its upcoming sequel.

How long have you been working as a food author/blogger?

I have been working in the food world for almost twenty years! I have worked for a food magazine - both as an editor and writer, a cooking instructor, a brand ambassador, a food product developer, a caterer, a food stylist, and a personal chef. I think that I have tried everything! Not all of it was for me but I am so glad I dipped my toe in every pool before finding my comfort zone as a cookbook author and co-author.

Before my culinary career, I was a TV programmer at Channel 2 back when one of its franchisees, Tel Ad, was based in the Jerusalem Theater! I used to have a joke that I got to shop for TV shows and and watch TV for a living!


Spring Salad with Herbs and Cabbage



What inspired you to enter the culinary world as a writer?

I view food as a great way to break down cultural barriers and educate myself about other cultures. I have always been a passionate home cook and I feel so lucky that I was able to do what I love for a career. I don't take any of it for granted! In Israel, where there are so many ethnic and religious groups living in close quarters, I love breaking bread with people who might have previously been strangers and making new friends over a meal.


Chicken with Stone Fruit


Pickled Lemon

What is the best part about working in your industry?

The best part of my job is having the ability to be creative every day; to feed other people (my favorite thing in the world!); to travel and explore through the lens of food. I also love collaborating, and by taking on new cookbook co-authorships every year I meet amazing new people and learn from them and their unique perspectives.



What is something that people might not know about the day-to-day duties of a food author?

A lot of my work is about keeping my ego in check, staying in a place of learning, curiosity, and humility, and seeing things through the eyes of others. Also, knowing that even though there may be tons of food in the fridge there isn't necessarily something ready for dinner! Also, not everything I eat is exotic. I like food routines in the morning so I pretty much have roasted tomatoes, scrambled eggs, chives, feta, and coffee every day. Boring? Maybe. But it allows me to keep my mind clear so I may focus on writing, which I am best at before 10 AM.


Fabulous Flavors of Chanukah Cooking Demo with Adeena Sussman at Zabar's

What is unique about being a food author and blogger in Israel?

There is huge excitement and interest in Israeli food right now so it is fun to be part of something people are passionate and curious about. I love feeling like an ambassador for this little place and its multifaceted food world. People here are so open, I get invited into people's homes to learn their dishes and to me, that is the greatest privilege and extension of hospitality there is. Also, the readily available access to incredible fresh seasonal produce never gets old...



Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about what you do?

I have co-authored several New York Times best-selling cookbooks, including Cravings by Chrissy Teigen and The Sprinkles Baking Book with Candace Nelson. My first solo cookbook, Sababa: Fresh Israeli Cooking, comes out next spring and I am PUMPED!!!


Adeena in her Tel Aviv kitchen

Let’s Bench Spotlight: A to Z Events Israel

Let's Bench Spotlight Series

Let's Bench Spotlight Series will be showcasing lifecycle event related brands every month to establish recognition. Contact us to have your company featured.

Adena Mark is the founder of A to Z Events Israel. She explains that she chose the name because she loves taking care of every single aspect of her clients’ events, so that they can relax and enjoy the special family moments. Whether it’s a wedding, bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah, birthday party or corporate event, Adena does the job with heart, style, class and elegance.

How long have you been working in Israel?

I have been working in Israel for six years.



What made you decide to start planning events?

I had many friends - and their friends - from abroad reaching out to me for ideas and advice about planning their special events in Israel. I saw that there was a demand. I knew that it would allow me to use my previous experience in interior design and project management to bring a unique look to each affair, and take on the planning to make care-free events for the hosts. So it took off from there!





What do you love most about your job?

I love bringing simcha - joy - to Israel. I get to have a part in my clients falling in love with Israel, I’m able to use my creativity to make each event truly unique, and I get to work with people during their most momentous and memorable lifecycle occasions!



What is something that people might not know about event planning?

Event planning is not all glamourous work! The attention to detail that comes with bringing in someone from the outside requires a lot of perseverance with sometimes tedious details. But I love knowing that if that stuff is on me, my clients don’t have to worry about it.



What is unique about being an event planner in Israel?

My clients are generally from elsewhere and are choosing to have their event here in Israel. That means that unlike an event planner in one’s home country, I have to deal with truly every detail, since many times the hosts are not in the country until the event itself. There is a lot of trust and intimacy with the clients; they aren’t local and need to be able to rely on me to be their eyes and ears, and to understand their taste. At the beginning of the planning process, the client may feel far away with a lot of unknowns, but I help guide and include them to be a part of the planning process and to feel hands-on. I help them choose what works based on their budget, style, taste, religious backgrounds and even evaluate how great their personal connection to Israel is.



Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about A to Z events?

Who I am contributes a lot to the flavor of A to Z Events. As an immigrant from New York, I understand and relate to the expectations of top-notch services and quality that people are coming to Israel with. But I also have lived here for for fourteen years, which means I know how to find the right vendors who will live up to those expectations and I form good working relationships with them, which ultimately benefits the client. I am also remarried, with stepchildren. This gives me a personal sensitivity when making events with complicated family dynamics, which in truth most people have whether it is a second marriage or not!

The A to Z team addresses every issue and every detail, with professionalism and artistic flair, so our clients can have the “party in Israel” of their dreams while feeling like a guest at their own events.


Let’s Bench Spotlight: Bibi’s Bakery and Cafe

Let's Bench Spotlight Series

Let's Bench Spotlight Series will be showcasing lifecycle event related brands every month to establish recognition. Contact us to have your company featured.


Bibi's Bakery and Cafe has been serving the kosher community in Los Angeles for quite some time. Bibi's has also used our benchers to help promote their brand. We had the pleasure of talking with the owner, Dan Messinger, to find out more about Bibi's history and why their customers love them so much!

How long has Bibi's been operating in the Los Angeles area?

Bibi’s has been open in LA since 2002. I have been the owner since 2011.



What brought you to wanting to run a Middle eastern and kosher eatery?

I switched careers from working in entertainment and production. I wanted to have my own business and I have always been interested in kosher food and Middle Eastern cooking. I saw that Bibi’s was available for sale and I took advantage of the opportunity.





What is the best part about working at Bibi’s?

My favorite part of working at Bibi’s is getting to know the local customers. I can walk around town and see familiar faces and most of the time I can even guess their orders!



What is something that people might not know about Bibi’s?

Bibi’s is known for our sambusak, toasts and individual pizzas. Not everyone knows that we make full size pizzas too - our stone oven (called a tabun) makes a great pie.



What is unique about being a kosher restaurant in Los Angeles?

LA has a very diverse Jewish community, so we interact with Jews from many different backgrounds and cultures.



Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about Bibi’s?

Despite sharing our name with the current prime minister, we have no connection to politics! Many people have told us that we capture the feel of Israel. When folks walk in they revel at the smells and sights that bring them back to their teen tour, year abroad or family vacation. It’s a real pleasure serving the LA community.


Let’s Bench Spotlight: Lone Soldier Center

Let's Bench Spotlight Series

Let's Bench Spotlight Series will be showcasing lifecycle event related brands every month to establish recognition. Contact us to have your company featured.


What is a Lone Soldier? A “lone soldier” is an IDF soldier with no family in Israel to support him or her. A lone soldier may be a new immigrant, a volunteer from abroad, an orphan or an individual from a broken home. We were lucky to sit down with staff from the LSC to talk about who they are and what they do, and it is a pleasure to feature them in the second installation of our Spotlight Series.

How long has the institution been open in Israel?

The Lone Soldier Center in Memory of Michael Levin was founded in 2009 in Jerusalem, we later opened up a second branch in Tel Aviv.


Why was it important for the Lone Soldier Center to operate in Israel?

Michael Levin always dreamed of a place where lone soldiers can come together to eat, laugh, talk, have Shabbat meals, get advice and feel at home in a new country. After his passing, a group of his friends worked hard to make his dream a reality and the LSC was Founded.


What do your employees love most about their jobs?

The best part of coming into work everyday is helping and interacting with the soldiers who volunteer every day to protect our country.


What is something that people might not know about the Lone Soldier Center?

We help lone soldiers before, during and after their service. Our Lone Soldiers also include some Israelis from Ultra-Orthodox families and some also from underprivileged homes. Any soldier who needs help with any stage during their army service is welcomed at the LSC.


What is unique about the LSC as an Israeli non-profit?

Almost all of our staff and volunteers are former lone soldiers themselves, so for a Israeli non-profit we are very American!


Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about the LSC?

The Lone Soldier Center is more of a family than a business. For the lone soldiers, it's a home away from home.


Let’s Bench Spotlight: Michal Kaye Events Israel

Let's Bench Spotlight Series

Let's Bench Spotlight Series will be showcasing lifecycle event related brands every month to establish recognition. Contact us to have your company featured.

Michal Kaye is one of Israel's powerhouse event planners and is such a pleasure to work with. We were lucky to sit down with Michal between her busy schedule and are thrilled to have her company featured first in our Spotlight Series.

How long have you been working in Israel?

I have been living and working in Israel for 10 years - eight of which I have been an event planner. I call Jerusalem home but create events all over the country - from Mitzpe Rimon in the south - to Katzrin up in the north.

What made you decide to start working as an event planner?

I actually fell into it. I had worked in logistics for over ten years. I was working in high-tech in Israel when a friend from Toronto was planning her daughter's wedding in Israel and needed help in getting through to people in the proper time zone. So that was my first wedding and then got the next one two weeks later and the rest is history.

What do you love most about your job?

Whether it’s my clients or vendors, I always get to meet interesting people. I would say that my second favorite thing is doing the research and then coming up with unique ideas for each client.

What is something that people might not know about your business?

People think you have down-time during certain breaks according to the Jewish calendar - but being an event planner is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week business, 365 days a year. It never stops, but I love it!

What is unique about being an event planner in Israel?

The connection to Israel that people feel when coming here is unique. It is so important for them to celebrate their event in Israel. A destination event is always fun but having it in Israel and bringing guests from all over the world - even without a personal connection - is so meaningful for people.

If there is anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself or your company, what would it be?

Michal Kaye Events Israel provides both a professional approach and a warm heart. I love this country and I am so proud to be able to bring people from all over the world to experience the magic of Israel.

The type of events I do are weddings (and anything connected to a wedding), Bar / Bat Mitzvahs, Sheva Brachot, business events and small conferences. I also provide clients with touring and hotel accommodation from top tour operators that I work with.

I strive to go above and beyond for my clients - from making certain every last centerpiece is perfect to even finding a new couple an apartment to live in after they get married.


For party planners, website creates custom photo ‘benchers’


BY SHOSHANNA SOLOMON | February 21, 2017

Israel’s Let’s Bench company helps hosts hand out personalized, picture-filled prayer booklets as mementos

If you have a Jewish-related party coming up — a bar or bat mitzvah, wedding, fundraiser or any type of group event involving a sit-down meal — you may want to check out an online service from Israel that allows users to create personalized Grace After Meals booklets known as benchers (a Yiddish word commonly used by English speakers).

The Let’s Bench website, set up by two North American-born Israeli entrepreneurs allows users to create personalized benchers for their celebrations. These can be in the form of booklets, or two-to-four panel cards. Pictures, for example of a bar/bat mitzvah boy or girl, can be uploaded, resulting in a mini-photo album mixed with traditional blessings that guests can take home with them as a memento of the event.

“The idea is to create benchers that are customized but also easy to do, fun to prepare and also cheaper than what you could get if you prepare them in person with a printer,” said Daniel Laufer, 54, from Silver Spring, Maryland, who set up the business along with Torontonian Yitz Woolf, 41. “You get a booklet to take home at the end of the party with pictures of the kids who are now grown up — or of the milestones in the life of a couple with their families. It can be a very emotional experience for the families and friends.”

The basic custom bencher includes the Grace After Meals, wedding blessings and other blessings. The upgraded option includes prayer songs, Sabbath prayers and holiday additions.

Bert & Rita Schreiber Wedding Bencher created by Let’s Bench website

“No one is doing exactly what we are doing,” said Laufer. “We make the process easy and quick. People get back to us and say their guests marveled at the booklets, as it is not something anyone is used to seeing. Each birkon (the Hebrew word for bencher) is unique to each celebration.”

A quick online search for “benchers” reveals a number of websites in which you can order customized benchers, some with a photo on the cover, but the formats offered appear to be less flexible and more standardized than those offered by Let’s Bench.

At Let’s Bench, the modern and easy-to-read font is preset but everything else can be chosen and custom made. The user chooses the “nusah” or the version of prayers: Ashkenaz or Sephardic; Hebrew or Hebrew and English, egalitarian or traditional; Orthodox, Reform or Conservative. The range of available background colors includes “hot pink” and “lilac linen.” Then the desired content is selected — the blessings, songs and prayers — the number of picture pages is chosen, ranging from zero to 20, and cover page is created. Voila, your creation is ready.

Laufer, a longtime educator, came up with the idea for Let’s Bench when he wanted to create personal gifts for a group of North American students participating in an Israel program he directed.

“Rather than just giving them any book, I thought it would be nicer to take pictures of them from their trip and put them in a bencher,” he said. “They took home tangible memories and also could use the booklet.”

Ashira Silverman’s Bat Mitzvah bencher created via Let’s Bench

The minimum order is 100 units for cards and 25 units for booklets, with prices varying based on size and quality. For 150 benchers, the price range is $1.99 per two-panel bencher to $7.49 for a Hebrew/English booklet that includes zemirot (Sabbath songs). The benchers are produced and printed in Israel and then mailed out, with the company saying its product will reach anywhere in the world within three to five days.

“It is very important for us that our clients know the product is being created in Israel. It gives that added dimension to the product they receive,” Laufer said.

The Jerusalem-based company is targeting mainly the Jewish North American population for now, but has also done benchers in French and Spanish and has supplied to customers in the UK, South America and Australia as well. The company may also target non-Jewish events in the future, said Laufer.

Share this Post

How to plan the perfect candy buffet

Israel Candies for Events

At the end of a wonderful evening spent celebrating with family and friends, you want your guest feeling like you’ve saved the best for last. Forget traditional desserts, there are so many new and exciting ways to delight your guests’ senses and palettes. Instead of the overused chocolate soufflé and apple tart, try something new and exciting. Just Google “Dessert buffet” and you will see a myriad of amazing displays. Do you like ice cream? Don’t just serve 1 or 2 flavors; create an old-fashioned ice cream parlor. Or is popcorn your thing? Instead of presenting only 1 kind, offer a variety of types and treat your guests to a fabulous popcorn bar. Or if you prefer to go the healthy route, turn a fruit plate into an exciting display of exotic fruits and shakes. The possibilities are endless and they give your guest a chance to choose
their own desserts in a fun filled way.

But if you really want to make a splash how about a candy buffet. Not only is the candy delicious, but the color and presentation will enhance the overall décor of your simcha. Candy buffets give a unique edge to any occasion. And you can have a candy bar anywhere- a birthday party, wedding, conference, bar and bat mitzvah and even a family reunion. Make guests of any age feel like a kid in a candy store!

Choose a color scheme

Use coordinating candies as well as a variety of decorative elements to enhance your decor. There is really no limit when it comes to designing a creative buffet. For a kid-focused event, choose the rainbow color scheme, using some single-color candies as well as a variety of candies that are mixed colors. At baby events like a bris or simchat bat, focus on all pink or all blue displays. For a more sophisticated look, choose black & white, gold & white, silver & navy blue…


Are you serving other desserts as well, or just candy? If the candy will be a major part of your dessert buffet, provide enough for guests to enjoy at your event as well as take some home with them. A general rule of thumb is about ½ lb per guest (or ¼ kilo).

The Look

Is your overall décor elegant or whimsical? If elegant is what you are after, then glassware is the way to go. And if more playful and whimsical is what you’re looking for consider using bins and other fun containers.

Who are your guests?

If your guests are mostly children, you’ll need a nice variety of fun candies. The most popular are gummies in all flavors and shapes. For adults, include more sophisticated options as well, like chocolate and nuts. But just remember, grown-ups love candy too! The most important thing to remember is to have fun!!!


Tamar Lustman and Rahel Yaish are the co-owners of Candy Corner. They specialize in candy buffets (https://www.candycornerisrael.com/buffets), as well as gift baskets for all occasions. Visit their website at www.candycornerisrael.com. They can be reached at:
email: [email protected]
Israeli numbers: 052-616-3433 and 054-942-1188
US numbers: 516-782-3003 or 410-844-5237
Facebook: Candy Corner Israel
Instagram: @candycornerisrael
All products used are certified kosher OU and/or Badatz

Share this Post

Adventures in Benching

lets bench company founders

Jerusalem Post

Let’s Bench takes tradition into the future

Reciting birkat hamazon (the grace after meals, or benching, in the colloquial English expression of the Yiddish term) is the traditional time when Jews come together after a meal to give thanks to God. People often collect benchers from weddings and bar and bat mitzvas, which are made available at the end of the meal for all guests to enjoy.

Daniel Laufer and Yitz Woolf, founders of Let’s Bench, want to take benchers to the next level.

“The inspiration for Let’s Bench happened a few years ago,” Laufer recalls.

“I had been working for more than 20 years in Jewish education in a program for high-school kids through Ramah. At the end of the program I wanted to give them a gift that had Jewish value and reflected their experience in Israel. I put pictures in a bencher. It came out really well; the kids and parents loved it, and everybody thought it was a great idea.

“It evolved from there. Yitz and I saw that it was something that could really make people happy at their weddings and other events. We created a user-friendly online app.”

The Let’s Bench website is similar to online self-publishing photo albums like Snapfish, but its more streamlined approach makes it possible for anyone to go online and create the bencher that they want for their event. Users choose their nusach (Sephardi, Ashkenazi or Chabad) background color and content, get a template and customize. They can upload and position their photographs in a simple manner, insert logos, drawings, designs and more.

Woolf and Laufer emphasize that anything that can be uploaded as a jpeg file can be used.

“The idea was to create something not overwhelming, easy to approach,” Laufer says.

“The idea is to make it a relatively quick and pleasurable experience. In addition to booklets, we offer folding laminated cards. There are different price points, with the booklet being the more premium product.”

The Let’s Bench website includes a library of photos taken by Woolf, an accomplished photographer, enabling users to include Israel and family photos. Laufer and Woolf relate that the parents of an aspiring photographer who was becoming bar mitzva made his benchers into his first portfolio. Similarly, the benchers can serve as a kind of calling card for an organization, with pictures of their community and their story. People then take it home with them and use it again and again, unlike a typical business card. Laufer and Woolf’s most recent order was from the Shalva organization, that wanted benchers for its celebratory Shabbat after the disabled Jerusalem marathon.

“We’re creating a moment,” Woolf adds. “It’s your bencher with your story. We have a drawer full of benchers at my sister’s house, yet people always grab the ones with photos. They’re beautiful, modern, clean – wonderful to look at. People want to have them as a keepsake that conveys something. Whether a wedding anniversary or a corporate event, it tells the story in a unique way.

Moreover, if someone’s grandmother can’t make it to the event in Israel, you can send her one of these. It’s like a PowerPoint presentation and party favor combined, reflecting the unique perspective of the family or whoever is putting on the event.”

Laufer and Woolf upgrade the Let’s Bench application constantly. They are focusing now on building up the business; learning about search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing on social media.

“We’re a bencher company and now we’re learning all the aspects of a startup,” Woolf states.

The focus on treating Let’s Bench more like a start-up arose when Laufer and Woolf relaunched the company in December. It had been in existence for a number of years before that as a side project, but marketing was solely word of mouth. They affectionately refer to themselves as bencher capitalists.

“I left my career as a Jewish educator to enter the entrepreneurial world and try to make Let’s Bench a success,” Laufer says.

“Working with people and managing an organization has its own excitement; there’s a certain challenge in taking an idea and making it into a successful business. We get such amazing feedback, so I’m really optimistic about the future. Now we’re really marketing it to get Let’s Bench out there. We’ve made hundreds of benchers so far and I think it will continue to grow.”

One of the strengths of the benchers is their incredible versatility, appealing to Orthodox, Conservative and Reform alike. They make benching more enjoyable for children, who love looking at the pictures.

“In this day and age, where looking at photography is so much a part of social media, this is a throwback and something modern,” Laufer notes.

“Birkat hamazon is more than a religious custom. It’s a moment where people gather together and sing. It’s done all over the world at all kinds of Jewish events.

“Our product gets used and reused regularly, creating an opportunity for people to recall and reminisce. It makes people feel good. One family told us that when they broke out the benchers at their simha, people looked at them and there was this moment of awe. It was special and moving.

“That’s what we’re trying to sell; the opportunity for you to give something out that really tells your story.”

For more information: https://letsbench.com/

Do I need wedding benchers and what should I choose?

Wedding Benchers with jewish couples

Wedding Benchers? Definitely!

Do you save wedding benchers in a drawer and bring them out at the end of a meal? It’s always fun to look at the benchers from various simchas and think back about that wedding and the couple who tied the knot that day. That’s why a bencher is a great keepsake to give out at a wedding, creating a party favor to offer at the event, a way of remembering a wonderful day, months and years after the party.

What about benching?

And, there’s also, benching. At many weddings, the communal benching with Sheva Brachot happens at the end of the meal (rightly so) but, by then some of the guests have already left. The good thing is that the guests still at the wedding get to open your personalized bencher and get a glimpse of what’s inside, while the other guests will first use them at their home. A stack of benchers on each table makes a statement that this event is also a seudat mitzvah, a celebratory meal.

So, yes, you need wedding benchers at a Jewish wedding as a keepsake, a Jewish party favor and a reinforcement of participation in a seudat mitzvah. All good.

How do you choose which wedding bencher? You can always head to an online site or your local Jewish bookstore and add your name to the cover of an already existing bencher and the job is done. I would look at the choices as follows: Price, style and content. Price is obvious. If you want to save money, then choose an inexpensive bencher and you’re done. Style is more complex. There are card benchers and booklet benchers… siddur benchers, and parasha benchers. You can find benchers that include Shabbat zemirot and there are those that have attractive designs. Of course, this segues into the third issue of content. Do you want a simple item that just includes the actual benching? Or, do you want zemirot, other prayers, or maybe full songbooks? These options are based on personal preference (and price, perhaps). I suggest thinking about what you like from the benchers you use at home and start there.

Think about personalizing your bencher.

Today, there is another choice available. You can personalize your wedding benchers with artwork and photographs, creating an arresting keepsake and a fun way to fulfill the mitzvah of benching, saying Grace after Meals. Instead of another bag of Jordan almonds, you can give your guests a beautiful and personalized album from your wedding. Let’s Bench can help keep the price reasonable and make a bencher that includes both the style and the content of your choice, creating a party favor and something practical as well.

Bottom line? Order wedding benchers. Better yet, customize it to make it your own so that the next time people open their bencher drawer, they’ll see your beautiful creation and notice how it stands out. And they’ll remember your beautiful day, just as you do.

About the Author

Daniel Laufer


Ten Super Creative Kids Purim Costumes

purim costume of a child with balloons

Purim Costumes – Making Memories.

Purim is around the corner – and now is the time to start thinking of costume ideas for your kids.

Here are a few really great costumes we found online and wanted to share with you.

Some of these costumes are super simple and require a bit of planning and very little effort – while some of them may require a bit of cardboard and spray paint, fabric, needle and thread – but the effort is always worth it – when you have those super cute family photos to look back on.

Up Purim Costume

Costume chunky black glasses, balloons, plastic pipes and two tennis balls.

Dinosaur Purim Costume

Cardboard and spray paint.

Leggy Purim Costume

Adult sized jogging pants.

Einstein Purim Costume

White costume mad scientist wig, cotton or white paint for eyebrows and mustache.

Big Bird Purim Costume

Big Bird
Orange foam board, yellow feathers.

Squid Purim Costume

Red. white and black felted wool or similar material.

Frieda Kalo Purim Costume

Flower headband, eyeliner, big colorful earrings, bright dress and colorful sari.

Lucky Troll Purim Costume

Lucky Troll
Purple temporary hair dye, hairspray.

Bubble Gum Machine Purim Costume

Bubble Gum Machine
Multicolored pompoms, glue gun, grey and black felt.

Minecraft Purim Costume

Cardboard, paint.

About the Author

Yitz Woolf