Reviving the Tradition of Community Kitchens in Gaza

Anera is delivering food to displaced, hungry families in Gaza through community kitchens we’re calling tekia (takiyya, tkiya), based on a beautifully simple concept that began almost 10 centuries ago.

Historians differ on the exact the word to describe these kitchens – tekia, imaret, aqhane or darü’z-ziyafe – but what we know for sure is that concept started in the Ayyubid era and had two main functions: to host Soufi worshipers performing their rituals, and to help anyone in need of food or shelter – a resting station and hotel for travelers and/or a place where people down on their luck could stay a short time.

These centers flourished during the Ottoman era. The Ottomans established community kitchens, housed in buildings for the purpose, throughout the empire from the 14th through 19th centuries. They provided free food to everyone, rich and poor. The kitchens were places where people could donate money, supplies or time or just enjoy a meal together with others. By the late 18th century, Istanbul’s kitchens alone fed up to 30,000 people daily.

Anera uses the word tekia (takiyya, tkiya), as it is traditionally employed, to describe these kitchens in Arabic. Some tekias still exist and have roots that go back hundreds of years. In fact, there is one in Hebron, West Bank, that was established in 1279. Known as Takiat Ibrahim or “Abraham’s Corner,” the kitchen continues to operate year-round, providing daily meals to families who are struggling to make ends meet amid high prices and other economic challenges.

The tekia in Hebron, which was established in 1279. Photo source.

Anera’s Tekias Provide Hot Meals in Gaza

Anera has set up six tekias in southern Gaza – three in Rafah, two in Khan Younis and one in the middle area, all in locations where displaced families are taking shelter. Each kitchen is staffed with multiple chefs and helpers who make scores of large pots of filling, hot meals. Each pot can make enough food to serve 300.

People come to our tekias with receptacles, which volunteers fill with food, altogether serving between 50,000 and 70,000 people daily. At times, we have flour and yeast for making fresh bread.

Though not technically part of Anera’s tekia program, we began supplying a community kitchen in Jabalia with food as of February 1. People in the north of Gaza have been cut off from aid for a long time and are suffering most acutely from hunger.

You can support Anera’s tekias!

Your donation of $50 can pay for one pot of hot, filling food for 300 people.

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