DIY Kiddush: Black Forest Triffle

Black Forest Trifle 

This is one of those fancy desserts that make any special occasion even more festive.


It is great for using up leftover cake and fairly fast to assemble.


If you are using a non-dairy whip, it can be made in advance, which is great for the time challenged.


However, real whipping cream tastes much better and has less chemicals.  


To make gluten free, use gluten free cake or brownies. To make egg-free, I use an egg free chocolate cake recipe, that I also make with spelt flour, so that although not gluten free, it is wheat free.


1 9″x13″ chocolate cake

1 container of Rich’s Whip topping, whipped

1 can of cherry pie filling. I buy one without additives or chemicals or dyes.

Chocolate or cherry liqueur or any brandy. I have also just used ¼ cup coffee, or liquid with 1 teaspoon of sugar if no liqueur available.

Chocolate curls or chocolate chips for decoration.

Traditionally, this can also be garnished with maraschino cherries, but again, they usually have dyes and chemicals, which are not Feingold diet friendly.


Presentation is everything with this dessert. Cut up cake into a trifle bowl (tall, not too wide). Sprinkle or douse with liqueur, to suit your taste. (I have skipped this step, and it still came out good. I have also just used ¼ cup coffee, or liquid with 1 teaspoon of sugar if no liqueur available.)

Layer cherry pie filling. Layer whipped cream. Repeat.

Garnish as desired with chocolate curls, chocolate chips or maraschino cherries.

All-Natural Alternative to canned pie filling:

1 jar of pitted sour cherries

1 to 2 Tablespoons of corn, potato or tapioca starch


Take 1 jar of pitted sour cherries. Drain the liquid and heat with 1 to 2 Tablespoons of corn, potato or tapioca starch. Stir until thickened. Add cherries to thickened liquid.

Although this is more time consuming, it is healthier and has no dyes, additives, or preservatives.

Bon Appetite!


DIY Kiddush: Cleaning Up

My husband and I joke that there are two kinds of people in this world —  cookers or cleaners.  My husband is a cleaner and I am obviously a cooker.  

In general, I find cleaning up to be an unpleasant chore.

Given my challenges in this area, we hired 2 wait staff to assist with refilling the food as needed, cleaning up and putting all the food away.

This was the best decision we made and they were worth every penny!

The two women were very experienced with doing kiddushes within the community and totally knew what to do without my even telling them.

They replenished the food as needed, washed all the dishes and put all the leftovers away.

Having them allowed me to enjoy myself at the event too.

I  was also spared staying up late to clean to then wake up early to go to work the next day.

Without hired help, unless you are a whirling dervish, it is hard to clean up alone. 

I suggest reframing the task: this can be a great bonding experience with friends and family.  A few energetic teenagers are also of immeasurable assistance.

Sometimes you never know how great your friends are.  Without my even knowing it, some of my friends even planned their afternoons to set aside time to help clean up. Fortunately, we didn’t need it. 

Two hours later, you would never have known we had 200 people walking through our house.

DIY Kiddush: Invitations 

Writing up and sending the invitations was actually one of the easiest parts of planning this kiddush.

The content of the invitation was a joint effort between me and my husband.

My husband happens to be a really excellent writer and an extremely literate person. So I wrote the first draft and he edited it.

We sent out an email invitation through evite.

It is free, and it tracks the number of responses and attendees. It is also fun because depending on the privacy settings, people can post comments and see who else is also coming.

It kind of helped to build excitement for the event.

The only other caveat is not to overlook anyone.  If nothing else, remember to invite anyone you are going to see on a regular basis!

Some people might hold a grudge if you forget to invite them. I personally recommend being as inclusive as possible. 


DIY Kiddush: Mindset 

Preparing for the Kiddush was exhausting. The week before, I frequently has only 4 hours of sleep at night.

I became quite cranky and it was difficult to maintain a positive attitude. Through the sleep deprivation, I struggled to keep my focus of being grateful that we were celebrating my husband’s recovery. In a blink of an eye, I know the outcome could have been much different. Opportunities to celebrate life are rare and to be treasured.  

Nevertheless, it was difficult to juggle work, day to day responsibilities, food preparation and all the organizational tasks involved in executing the event. I felt stretched to the limits.

So, my husband reminded me – “Just remember Who we are doing this for. At the end of the day, we have to keep in mind the guiding principles of why we are doing this. The food is secondary.”

Now, this is true, but it is not the whole truth. We are indeed spiritual beings having a physical experience, not physical beings having a spiritual experience. From this stems my belief our task in this world is to transform the physical into the spiritual. Therefore, our actions reveal who we are and what we value. Included in this is also what and how we eat.  

So, the Kiddush is about the food but not about the food.  

Food and eating are about physical substance and spiritual repair. Food cuts to the core of self-preservation and nurturance. It is really very primal.

On an absolute level, my husband is correct – the food is not in and of itself important.  Nevertheless, I felt that it was important to have the event be beautiful and nourishing both physically and spiritually. I wanted our expression of gratitude to be dignified and demonstrate proper respect for the occasion.

Where my husband and I both agree is that when we keep in mind our true purpose for doing anything, ultimately, we will be guided to what we need to do and where we need to be.

In the final analysis, the Kiddush was a beautiful affair, both physically and spiritually. We have so much to be grateful for.

Thank you everyone who helped make this occasion so special and memorable.



DIY Kiddush – Part 1

Two weeks ago we had a kiddush in our home to express our gratitude over my husband’s recent recovery. 

My husband is a walking medical miracle, and every day I am so grateful he is alive and survived this ordeal.

To express our gratitude we invited our friends and neighbors to our home following services on Saturday.

Up until this point, we have hosted a kiddush only 2 times: once when our daughters were born and then again when they had their bat mitzvahs.

Both times, we had them catered and held them at shul.

Although kiddushes are not a sit down meal, the expenses can add up. 

Since my husband was recovering and unable to work, we needed to express our gratitude more modestly.

There is an art and a science to having a kiddush in your home. And, unless you have done one before, it is not an intuitive endeavor.

A secret sisterhood which I called “The Kiddush Committee” came forward to assist me every step of the way. Without these wonderful and supportive women there is no doubt that our kiddush would not have been the resounding success that it was. Every step of the way I felt guided in this daunting endeavor.

Since planning a Kiddush is a multi step process, I am planning on posting a series on DIY Kiddush in your home.