MILWAUKEE – Avi Hershko didn’t realize how bad things were for bread-eaters in Wisconsin until he was discharged from the hospital on a Friday.
His wife Dorit had been so side-tracked by his operation that she didn’t bake any bread at all that week. So the Hershkos, Israelis who moved to Wisconsin two years ago, picked up bread for Shabbat from a local supermarket.
“I said, ‘we now understand what’s going on here,’” he recalled. “The Jewish community deserves fresh bread.”
Inspired by their failed search for freshly baked bread for Shabbat, the Hershkos bought a small south-side commercial bakery at 2952 S. 13th St. on Nov. 7. They’ve obtained certification from Wisconsin K. Now, besides business-to-business bread sales, they’re offering free delivery of bread baked the same day to addresses in Mequon, Glendale, Fox Point and Bayside for orders above $10. The website is FreshDailyBread.com.
The Chronicle has only taste-tested one item, the pita, and we can report that it is nothing like a days-old supermarket pita. It actually has an interior, a roomy and fluffy one. It’s fresh. Avi held one up: “In Israel, in the Middle East, when you say ‘pita pocket,’ this is a pita pocket.”
Dorit scrunches her face when asked about typical American bread. “It’s not natural,” she said, adding that it smells like corn. “It’s not fresh like Israel.”
The Hershkos moved to Milwaukee two years ago for his program manager job at GE Healthcare, where he still works. Dorit baked professionally in Israel for 20 years before moving here, operating a bakery out of their home in Nahariyya, near the Lebanese border. The pair grew up south of Nahariyya, in Haifa.
The Fox Point couple sought to get Dorit back into baking, which she loves. “I like the smell,” she said. “I like to work with my hands, everything, the art of it.”
Thus, on the south side of Milwaukee, in a Hispanic neighborhood, in a space behind Karina’s Pizza with its menu that’s partly in Spanish, is a plan to compete aggressively with the kosher bakeries of Chicagoland. Besides Dorit, the bakery has three full-time employees.
Avi doesn’t see Friendship Bakery, a Milwaukee-area non-profit effort, as his competition. Rather, he has his sights set on the Illinois kosher bakeries that he said are not able to deliver fresh bread to Wisconsin daily.
With the purchased bakery came its commercial accounts, many of whom don’t care whether their bread is kosher or not. The Hershkos told these restaurants, delis and others that they were switching their no-deliveries day from Sunday to Saturday, as required for kosher certification.
Only about 30 percent of Fresh Daily Bread’s business is with the Jewish community, even though all of its food is kosher. It’s all pareve (neither milk nor meat) and pas Yisroel (a Jew turns on the ovens), Avi said.
Besides home deliveries on the North Shore and commercial deliveries outside the Jewish community, Fresh Daily Bread is serving local synagogues and is available for purchase at the Kosher Meat Club Supermarket, 4731 W. Burleigh St., and at Ohr Hatorah Jewish Heritage Center, 7020 N. Green Bay Ave., Avi said.
“People in Wisconsin are not used to fresh bread,” Avi said. “In Israel, you can go into a store and buy bread that was baked the same day.”
He drove the point home: “Our motto is ‘fresh daily bread.’”