Forty-five years after opening a small bakery in the still scrawny neighborhood of Kiryat Hayovel, Mordecai Parash celebrated the event this week with a party that demonstrated his shop's status as a social anchor of the community as well as the enduring charm of a small, neighborhood business versus the shopping mall. Hundreds of area residents gathered on the lawn of the Kiryat Hayovel center Sunday afternoon to pay tribute to the bakery/coffee house where they have been able over the years to lay aside life's problems for an hour and attend to the truly important things in life - gossip, read a newspaper, meet with friends. The Parash family in turn paid tribute to their customers by permitting them to witness history-in-the-making - a lawyer measuring a 23.6-meter-long cake to authenticate its dimensions for Guinness Book of World Records in the longest cheesecake category. Produced in the bakery behind the shop over three days, the cake was distributed by waitresses and family members to everyone attending. What was left, the bulk, was sent to hospitals and to charitable institutions in the neighborhood. Mordecai, whose parents immigrated from Yugoslavia, began working as a baker's assistant at age 14 to help support his family. At the well-known Patt Bakery on Rehov Hanevi'im, which is now closed, he learned the trade from bakers who had immigrated from eastern Europe. In 1961, at age 33, he rented a small shop on the site of the present store and began his bakery. One of his first customers, a local girl named Ora, paid his cakes the ultimate compliment by marrying the baker. Matty, the eldest of their four children, joined the business in 1984 after completing his army service, which included a stint with the Golani Brigade in Lebanon where he was wounded. Over the years, the shop has increasingly taken on the character of a coffee house, although the bakery side has grown as well. The regular customers include residents of the neighborhood's two large retirement homes, many of whom Ora knows by their first names and sometimes even visits. "We are an important factor in the community," says Matti, who has largely taken over the running of the business. "We've grown with the neighborhood and we will continue to grow with it."

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