Amanda Israel, 37, likes to keep busy. Not only do she and her husband, Daniel, own Deluxe Catering, a kosher catering company in Philadelphia, but she also runs an infant sleep training consulting service, Lullaby Magic Sleep Consulting — all while raising three children.
And her Jewish journey began early, as she grew up nearby in Cherry Hill and attended a conservative synagogue. But when she went to Rutgers University for her undergraduate degree, Israel said she became more observant. She later earned a master’s degree in Jewish communal service from Gratz College.
“I had always understood I was planning on a more observant lifestyle,” Israel said.
She attributed the next step to her time studying abroad in Tel Aviv, the Rutgers Jewish Xperience program and Rabbi Meir Goldberg’s influence. Goldberg is the director of that program.
Today, Israel, who lives in Merion Station, shares her experiences and leadership talent as president of the Lower Merion Synagogue sisterhood. She took on the role just before the pandemic began. While organizing anything was difficult during the pandemic, activities and volunteer efforts are now back in full swing.
“I am able to hear the voices and the needs of the women in our community,” Israel said. “But I really truly depend mostly on my volunteers. I do the marketing and I work with the synagogue to do the logistics for programs that benefit the women of our community socially, educationally and religiously within whatever capacity.”
Between all the scheduling and organization for Deluxe Catering, her sleep consulting business, community involvement with the sisterhood and raising three children, Israel stays active.
“But that’s what I thrive on. That’s what I need to feel purposeful. I just love to do it myself,” Israel said.
When she does get a moment to herself, Israel enjoys watching documentaries on Netflix and cooking dinner for her family.
“People think it’s funny because we own a catering company that I still really enjoy cooking Shabbat dinner for my family and cooking dinner for my kids every night,” Israel said.
The kosher catering business took flight seven years ago, with Daniel Israel running a one-man show as a chef. He started by preparing platters for people and hosting private cooking classes for friends for parties.
“As demand grew, he realized he had a larger market. There were a lot of people who wanted high-quality kosher food in Philadelphia who didn’t have options,” Israel said.
Now, Amanda Israel is one of Deluxe Catering’s assistant managers. She is in charge of drop-off orders daily, and they have another manager who handles larger parties.
Like the catering business, Israel’s Lullaby Magic Sleep Consulting started by meeting a need. That need was revealed when Israel was struggling to get enough sleep after the birth of her first child. At the time, she was working full-time at Kohelet Yeshiva in Merion as the admissions director.
“By the time she was 4 months old, I simply wasn’t functioning like I needed,” Israel said.
Israel turned to her colleagues to ask about their experiences and learned about sleep training — a set of strategies and techniques parents can use to help infants and young children learn to sleep independently.
After online research, Israel was able to sleep-train her daughter and her next two children. Israel realized that she had a knack for sleep training as friends and family alike soon began to seek her out for advice.
Israel decided to go pro. She became certified through the Center for Pediatric Sleep Management and dove head-first into learning everything she could about the science of sleeping. In 2020, she left Kohelet Yeshiva to focus on helping her husband with his business part-time and take on sleep consulting full-time.
She consults with families around the world, from Australia to Israel, about their situations and the strategies they can use to get their little ones sleeping independently. To meet the needs of families across time zones, Israel is available nearly all the time.
“If I have a text from a client I respond. I don’t hold off or anything like that. They all know I’m simply not available from Friday night to Saturday night: That’s my day off for the week,” Israel said. “I have a lot of Jewish clients who get it, and I have a lot of non-Jewish clients who are more than happy to respect that boundary.”