Naama Barak
May 30

Tel Aviv is known as the White City, for its beautiful and rare collection of Bauhaus architecture. In our minds, the name is also fitting when considering the top-notch, glimmering cheesecakes up for grabs in the city’s finest bakeries. 

Ahead of the Jewish festival of Shavuot, universally celebrated by having way too much cheesecake and other dairy delights, ISRAEL21c catches up with three of the city’s top bakeries – indeed, urban institutions – to learn more about what we’re going to indulge in this year.

Shavuot begins the night of June 11. We wish you a happy holiday and more peaceful times ahead.

Lehamim

“Shavuot is the holiday of Lehamim Bakery,” Danielle Duvshani, the head of marketing at Lehamim, tells ISRAEL21c. “On Shavuot, everything that’s found on our shelves is perfect for the holiday table.”

Lehamim, established by superstar baker Uri Scheft in 2002, has grown from its flagship store in the center of Tel Aviv into an empire encompassing seven kosher branches in the Tel Aviv region as well as overseas bakeries. 

Lehamim founder and baker Uri Scheft. Photo by Daniel Lailah
Lehamim founder and baker Uri Scheft. Photo by Daniel Lailah

Its breads (that’s what lehamim means in Hebrew), pastries and cakes are synonymous with top-quality and delicious classics, and the bakery’s cheesecakes are carrying on with that tradition.

“This year, we’re going to have a classic cheesecake, one with chocolate, one with streusel and a so-called old-fashioned cheesecake with an airy filling,” Duvshani says.

Lehamim cheesecake and other dairy delights for Shavuot. Photo by Daniel Lailah
Lehamim cheesecake and other dairy delights for Shavuot. Photo by Daniel Lailah

“Our overall line in the bakery is very, very classic. We of course put out new decorations or new flavors, and there’s always demand for that, because people are on the lookout for new, Instagram-my things. But at the end of the day, what’s sold out first are the classic cheesecakes that everyone’s been waiting for the whole year.”

Lehamim’s classic cheesecake is the first to sell out each Shavuot. Photo by Daniel Lailah
Lehamim’s classic cheesecake is the first to sell out each Shavuot. Photo by Daniel Lailah

This year, visitors to Lehamim can also get spanakopita, a Greek spinach and cheese pie. The pie is made by Yaki Sagi, a pastry chef from Kibbutz Be’eri – one of the hardest-hit Gaza border communities on October 7 – who’s been hosted at Lehamim since the war broke out.

This Shavuot, check out Tel Aviv’s top cheesecakes
Cheesecake on sale at Lehamim Bakery in Tel Aviv. Photo by Natalie Selvin

“Yaki’s pie is not only Greek, but also Israeli, specifically from the Gaza border area. He uses cheeses from the Kibbutz Be’eri Dairy, whose cheesemaker, Dror Or, was murdered. The spinach comes from Moshav Ein Habesor in the Gaza border area, and the eggplant for the vegan version come from Moshav Yechini, also in the region. The proceeds from [his pies] go to the rehabilitation of the kibbutz and its members,” Duvshani notes.

Dallal

Across town, in the picturesque neighborhood of Neve Tzedek, stands another urban institution: Dallal. Established by Andrea (Doushi) Leitersdorf in 2007, the Dallal empire encompasses a restaurant, bakery, events space and café, the latter located uptown. 

“Our bakery has a manufacturing license – we’re actually a small factory with some 14 pastry chefs working in very artisanal, hands-on, old-school methods,” Leitersdorf tells ISRAEL21c.

“Our pastry chef for the last eight years is Timor Lavi, and before that she was the deputy of the pastry chef who was with us for 10 years. We’re very romantic about this.”

This Shavuot, check out Tel Aviv’s top cheesecakes
The Dallal bakery in the picturesque Neve Tsedek neighborhood in Tel Aviv. Photo by Guy Ashkenazi

Dallal’s 15-inch cheesecake is available throughout the year in different versions. Leitersdorf promises “lots of new surprises” in the Shavuot lineup.

“What’s unique about all of our products is that none of them have too much sugar; we’re very exact about balancing flavors,” she adds. 

“At the end of the day, we eat more of something when it is delicious, but not from the sugar. You want to have another bite and another bite, because you’re not overloaded with sugar. The topping of our cheesecake is made with sour cream, so it has this tang that enables you to slice off a bit more and bit more, all the way to the end of the pan.”

In addition to its famous cheesecake and other classics, Dallal will offer new cheese-based products for Shavuot in cooperation with Israeli dairy farms Ivry Dairy and Ein Camonim.

A slice of cheesecake from Dallal. Photo by Natalie Selvin
A slice of cheesecake from Tel Aviv’s Dallal. Photo by Natalie Selvin

“It’s always very appropriate to incorporate local artisans and Israeli agriculture, and I think that this year it’s even more important to strengthen them, and Shavuot is a good opportunity for that,” Leitersdorf says.

Fika

Another Tel Aviv establishment offering a fabulous cheesecake, albeit a little less locally focused, is Fika Bakery

Established by Michael Rothschild, a former television producer who moved to Israel from Sweden in 2007, Fika offers a wide array of Swedish delights in six branches across the city; the one on Tushiya Street is certified kosher.

“First of all, it’s a bakery, but I wanted it also to be a cheap ticket to Sweden for Israelis, to give a Scandinavian experience when you come here, and our guests get served stuff that’s not very Israeli. Everything has a Swedish background, or some of it has an Israeli background with our Swedish touch – pastries, cakes, cookies, sandwiches and breads,” Rothschild says.

“Not everyone likes Swedish stuff, but those who do like it, like it a lot and they come back. Also, it’s something new but not that dissimilar from things Israelis tend to like, like pastries and bread,” he adds.

Fika was established by Michael Rothschild to give people in Tel Aviv a taste of Sweden and a break from everyday life. Photo courtesy of Fika Bakery
Fika was established by Michael Rothschild to give people in Tel Aviv a taste of Sweden and a break from everyday life. Photo courtesy of Fika Bakery

This year, Fika is going to offer customers a Swedish-inspired cheesecake with a unique-in-Israel topping.

“It’s a Swedish traditional cheesecake that we kind of spiced up a bit,” Rothschild says. “It has curd cheese, and kind of reminds of a Basque cheesecake. It has a hint of almond flavor inside, which is traditional, and the bottom is made of digestive biscuits. On the top, we’re going to do a rhubarb compote this year – although you can also have it without – which gives it a nice tart yet sweet taste.”

This Shavuot, check out Tel Aviv’s top cheesecakes
Fika is offering a virtually unheard-of topping on its cheesecake: rhubarb. Photo courtesy of Fika Bakery

Rhubarb is a hard-to-find treat in Israel, and unfamiliar to natives.

“We kind of have to struggle to find it here,” Rothschild notes. “I found a farmer that grew it especially for me, so I bought a bunch and fresh-froze it, so we’ll have enough, I hope, for this Shavuot.”

Fika, Rothschild explains, is the Swedish term for a coffee break.

“But it’s also a Swedish social institution. It’s a break that you need to take from work and life, having a coffee with friends and relaxing. It’s more than a coffee break, even if that’s the translation.”

“That was also my purpose when I started. I really thought Israelis deserve a fika break from all the stuff that’s going on here, from all the stress,” he says.

We couldn’t agree more. 

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