Since our November 2018 launch, Kugel has united hip, intellectual New Yorkers through our Shabbat-centric events and strong Jewish soul. Kugel is a Manhattan-based nonprofit for Millennials, Gen Xers and Gen Zers who don’t subscribe to one particular Jewish identity.
Each of Kugel’s co-founders bring a unique perspective to modern Jewish identity, and our distinctive backgrounds shape Kugel’s passion for community building.
who we are
Kugel’s President Simone Weichselbaum is a product of an interfaith marriage between an Orthodox Jewish father and an Episcapalian mother. She’s undergone not one but two Orthodox conversions: one at the age of 7, and a giyur l’chumra a few years ago. Due to Simone’s background, Kugel believes that a big part of Jewish community-building revolves around family. We openly promote the importance of halachically Jewish unions. Also, as half-Jamaican, Simone ensures that Kugel is a place where diversity is the norm, rather than the exception.
CEO Yossi Rosenberg, raised religious and Yeshiva-schooled until the age of 19, is no longer fully observant. He saw a need to build space for those who also have a strong affinity for the traditions, yet at the same time, don’t adhere to the many details and laws that came with the frum label. In order to promote this type of inclusivity, Kugel respects the laws of Shabbat and Kashrut during all of our events. Although a typical Kugel event attracts Jews who aren’t religious, we want all Jews — from the fully observant to those who are new to Jewish thought — to feel welcome.
Kugel’s COO Abram Kaplan strongly identifies with his Cuban-Jewish roots, and builds Kugel events around cuisine that celebrates Jews from across the diaspora. With his restaurant background, Abram serves as Kugel’s in-house kosher chef and cooks all of our artisanal meals. Kugel amplifies this perspective: Being an American Jew does not automatically equate to Ashkenormative practices. Abram blends his Sephardic heritage into Kugel’s kiddush and havdalah events to highlight that Jewish customs are rich and varied.
Rabbi Yakov Bankhalter
of Chabad Loft near Union Square
how did it start?
After a broken engagement in early 2018, Simone’s friends Yossi and Daphne started to throw, boisterous, Shabbat meals to cheer her up. Throughout the summer, the meals grew larger and more eclectic. The idea for Kugel was born. Kugel captures what Simone and Yossi have been doing since they first became friends more than a decade ago: going to big, fun, Shabbat meals filled with diverse, eclectic people.
Now in their thirties, the two decided it was time to root themselves and share all they have absorbed with the community they call home — Manhattan.
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