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challah

The Mitzvah of Women Making Challah

Whenever I make challah with my girlfriends, and we’re schmoozing, mixing, kneading, and laughing, the braided breads always turn out better than when I shape the dough by myself in my kitchen. And I’m not sure why, maybe it’s my imagination. We use the same ingredients—yeast, water, sugar, flour, oil, egg, salt—a basic bread recipe, although some women go gourmet and add sweet or savory fillings and create fancy designs. It must be the energy in the room, the shared focus on why we are here, that makes challah taste better when we make it together. The rhythm of squishing the sticky dough through our fingers and leaning in to it with our hands can work up a sweat if we’re doing it right. And when the floury soft mound finally forms, I can’t resist patting it like a baby’s bottom. By the time we catch the first whiff of fragrant yeast, we are transcended to a different space. When we make challah together, we forget about our list of things to do and just be in the moment. Continue reading

Challah Making Club Brings Women Together


challah-workshop-women-at-tables
What do you get when you combine 150 pounds of flour, 16 dozen eggs, 128 ounces dry yeast, 25 pounds sugar, 24 ounces canola oil, and 4 pounds of Kosher salt?

The Jewish Women’s Society Challah Making Club!

Thirty women get together once a month for lots of love, laughter, and learning (and wisecracks about yeast—sorry I couldn’t resist). The long tables are filled with big bowls, measuring cups, spoons and we all have our own spot to combine, mix, and braid the ingredients into eight mini loaves (or fewer depending on the size and shape) of challah.

challah-workshop-shari-whay

Some women are balaboostas, effortlessly rolling and stretching the dough in the palms of their hands into the perfect shape of a snake, while others like me still struggle to pinch and tuck the ends. It doesn’t matter; it’s not a competition. We are all there for each other and to have a good time. Sure, I admit I envy the intricate eight-braided challahs and round cinnamon bun designs that line the foil pans ready to take home and show off to their families. I’m still proud of myself for trying, and it all tastes heavenly when it comes out of the oven gold brown, crunchy on the outside, sweet and chewy inside. Honestly, the best part of the night is being a part of this sisterhood and doing an ancient mitzvah while I wear my blue “Keep Calm and Bake Challah” apron. Continue reading

Challah-lujah! Learn The Mitzvah of Braiding Bread.

challah flyer

After the Days of Awe, it’s time to learn a few tricks of the trade when it comes to making challah. This sweet, eggy, moist delicious bread is the staff of life for Jewish people, so now is the time to learn how it’s done. In fact, the only thing more fun than eating these aromatic loaves is braiding the bread among friends. So join us this coming Sunday afternoon at the “Challah Baking & Shabbat In-A-Box,” hosted by the Jewish Women’s Society of Aish HaTorah. As we mix, knead, and braid the soft dough, we’ll also learn about the mitzvah of women making challah. After all, when it comes to making challah, there’s never too many cooks in the kitchen.
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JWRP Trip to Israel: The Mitzvah of Making Challah

ellie and sari with challahs

Sari & I make our own challahs.

One of the MANY highlights of my recent JWRP experience was celebrating my first Shabbat in Israel. The best part—making challah in the same room, at the same time, with 200 other wannabe balaboostas who dispel the theory that too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the soup. I felt like I was on the set of Food Network as I watched Rebbetzin Raizy work her magic on the big screen and effortlessly twist the soft dough into shapes of a dove, butterfly, six-strand loaf, napkin rings, a linked loop round challah, and other creations that would make Martha Stuart envious and want to convert.

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