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.
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
When it comes to parenting, there is no manual. Back in the day, my mom kept Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care paperback in her nightstand, next to the S&H Green Stamps and the TV remote. I never noticed any dog-eared corners on the faded brown pages so doubt if she ever referred to this “timeless bestseller.” Turns out she probably could have used some expert advice on how to redirect her high-spirited daughter because her idea of discipline was chasing me down the hallway with a flyswatter.
With Hanukkah around the corner, now is the perfect time for a gift exchange, especially when the presents are filled with love, spirituality, and delicious snacks and drinks. The upcoming Bracha party—which is like a prayer gift exchange– is all about sharing blessings over special foods with our “sisters” who are part of the St. Louis Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP) and Jewish Women’s Society (JWS) family.
A Bracha is a blessing that is recited at specific times during services and rituals, and this is how a Bracha or Amen party works:
First, women sit around a big table filled with a delicious spread that fits into five symbolic food groups. Stop right there. You had me at women and food.
When I returned from my JWRP Israel trip last summer, I was determined to keep the energy and excitement going. My experience was, to say the least, spiritually uplifting and I wanted to stay connected to my “St Louis Soul Sistas” and meet new friends who were on the same journey of self growth and discovery. I wanted to continue learning and enrich my life with Jewish values that I could share with my family and my community. Then again, my idea of fun is sharing a bottle of kosher moscato and making challah with my girlfriends.
Well, the Jewish Women’s Society (JWS) of St. Louis does all that, and more. Already 60-plus members strong, the JWS is an exciting new organization that is looking for women like YOU! The JWS was created as an outgrowth of the JWRP, but you don’t have to be a JWRP participant to be a member of JWS–everyone is welcome!
Last month, we launched the JWS at the beautiful home of Sam and Marilyn Fox. The event was co-hosted with their daughters Cheri Fox and Pamela Fox Claman, and JWRP Founding Director Lori Palatnik was in town to help us kick off our new initiative to bring Jewish women of the St. Louis community together through educational campaigns, special events, service projects, leadership opportunities, and more.
“The Jewish women in St. Louis are really on fire after their JWRP experience. I’m very impressed that they started this new initiative, JWS, to keep the momentum going and involve other women in the community,” said Lori Palatnik, founding director of the JWRP, who was in town for the launch of the society.
The JWRP and Aish HaTorah St. Louis have sent more than 70 St. Louis moms to Israel since 2010, with another 14 women going this summer.
“Through its innovative follow-up programming and opportunities, the JWS has the potential to set a precedent for Jewish communities around the world,” Palatnik added.
The JWS is more than a membership organization. The JWS is a movement, and our mission is as follows:
“Embrace the values of our Jewish heritage, emphasizing living harmoniously with self, family and community. The Society provides programs and support for Jewish Women of all backgrounds to strengthen their Jewish identity and their commitment to Jewish life in St Louis and Israel.”
The JWS is excited to roll out a series of educational campaigns that allow participants to live what they learn. Each class focuses on different Jewish values, such as gratitude, kindness, humility, joy, and honesty. JWS members not only attend the class, but they can take advantage of the many tools, resources, progress charts, and service projects. The JWS also offers home study groups that can help people understand the value on a deeper level in a more intimate, ongoing learning experience.
“The JWS’s goal is to strengthen and invigorate these special values and the amazing richness and relevancy it has on our life by impacting our marriage, children, family, and community,” said Rabbi Yosef David, of Aish HaTorah St. Louis. “Members will be inspired to put into action what they learn until it becomes a reality.”
The first class on Lashon Hara, or refraining from gossip and negative talk, will be offered on two dates: Monday, March 31, 9:30 a.m., or Monday, April 1, 7 p.m. Both classes are held at the Jewish Community Center, 2 Millstone Campus Drive. Rabbi Shmuel Greenwald, Educational Director of Aish HaTorah St. Louis, will engage the audience in a conversation based on Palatnik’s book, “Gossip: Ten Pathways to Eliminate It From Your Life and Transform Your Soul,” and all members will get their own copy of the bestseller.
“I’ve taught about Lashon Hara, which means gossip, to literally thousands of people, and this subject touches everyone. Even if we don’t speak gossip, hearing gossip still hurts us with its negativity. Learning the laws of Lashon Hara transforms a person because it makes you stop and think before you gossip or talk negatively, and that will change you and impact those around you. When we eliminate gossip, we have a choice: We can find something positive to say, we can remain silent, or talk about an inspirational idea, which impacts a person to live on a higher level,” said Greenwald.
Other upcoming campaigns include honoring our parents and elders and showing respect, taking care of the sick and less fortunate, and working on being happy with what we have and keeping a gratitude journal.
For more information on the benefits of a JWS membership, please call 314-527-1719, or JWSociety@hotmail.com
And stay tuned for next week’s blog on my own experience giving up gossip–it’s not as easy I thought.
Let’s share our Jewish journey together. “Like” my website Mishegas of Motherhood and stay updated on all JWS news.
When Mimi Pultman called me on the phone back in August to ask me to co-chair the Lori Palatnik event with her, I was on my way to meet my “St Louis Soul Sisters” for dinner at Mediterranean Grill. We like to pretend we’re eating falafel in the Old City.
Anyway, Mimi rattled off a list of reasons why I should consider taking on this important role, even though I was already feeling overwhelmed with several projects that consumed my time. Her rationale:
1. Lori’s coming in town, it’ll be fun!
2. We are both experienced event planners. We can do this.
3. We have connections in the St. Louis Jewish community.
4. We will appoint committees and sub-committees and delegate responsibiities.
5. We have templates for advertisements and invitations, so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
6. We’ll put together a killer action plan and timeline.
7. Then something about minimal amount of time and meetings (yeah, right).