Pinah Hamah (Warm Corner) opened its doors in 2001 in Gush Etzion, Israel, as a memorial to two men killed by terrorists on the road nearby. The cozy café is a lot like Starbucks®. Both serve coffee, tea, and fresh baked goods. Both are excellent places to relax and hang out with friends. But Starbucks is a multibillion dollar corporation that employs 200,000 baristas, while Pinah Hamah relies completely on volunteers nicknamed “the aunties” to bake cakes and serve customers.
And, oh yes, there is one other important difference: donations from around the world enable Pinah Hamah to serve its cakes, cookies, and drinks free to soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces as an expression of communal gratitude. In return, unit badges, platoon flags, and thank-you notes from soldiers decorate the walls. One note from Golani Brigade troops reads, “We’ve been on this frontline for only five days and we’ve already fallen in love with you. Lots and lots of thanks. May you be healthy and happy.”