Flour power and challahs galore bloom at 2016 Great Big Challah Bake

by | Nov 21, 2016 | Other News

In a show of sisterhood and community, 125 women joined together to learn, laugh, mix, knead and braid at Tidewater’s 2nd Annual Great Big Challah Bake on Wednesday, Nov. 2.

Held in the Cardo at the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus, the goal of the women’s-only event was to offer the opportunity to learn and experience the mitzvah of making challah and share in the joy of the ritual.

From varied backgrounds, the attendees were school-aged and seniors, religiously observant and secular, affiliated and unaffiliated, experienced challah makers and newbies. There were sisters, mothers, daughters and grandmothers. Lifelong Tidewater residents and women who’d just moved to town.

“This was my first time making challah,” says Morgan Bober, echoing a statement made by many who lined up to learn and frequently laugh. “It was really fun and I’m surprised at how well mine turned out!”

“The event sounded like a good way to engage in my Judaism and in the community,” Bober says. “It was that—and a lot more. I’m very happy I came.”

The suggested donation for Challah Bake was $5 per person, which helped cover the cost of the kosher ingredients. The first 110 women who came were greeted with a commemorative Great Big Challah Bake UJFT white apron, a gift for registering and arriving early. No matter when they arrived, however, participants went home with at least two challahs, their plastic kneading bowl, instructions for baking their bread for Shabbat, and memories of a truly unique experience.

Challah mavens—veteran makers and bakers—were positioned at each table to provide support as the ladies mixed the yeast, water, sugar, salt, oil and flour to make the dough. An “intermission” provided the opportunity for guests to share personal stories about the meaning of challah, and fun, interactive games—during which time the dough rose. As the women returned to their tables and bowls, they punched down their dough to be able to manipulate it. They then pinched, rolled and braided the dough into exceptional looking loaves, under the tutelage of the volunteer helpers, if needed.

By the evening’s end, approximately 300 eggs, 30 pounds of sugar, 150 pounds of flour, pounds of salt, and gallons of oil and water were used to make more than 250 challahs taken home to bake.

Reports from those who went home and promptly popped their creations into the oven, and the shared photos of their masterpieces on social media, showed golden brown, soft and luscious looking bread.

Tidewater’s 2016 2nd Annual Great Big Challah Bake was chaired by volunteers Jodi Schwartz and Shari Berman. The Hillel and Pollock families were sponsors, and Cater 613 provided light snacks during the intermission. The United Jewish Federation of Tidewater provided funding and organizational support.

The Great Big Challah Bake is held in hundreds of communities and cities around the world each year; tens of thousands of women—and some men— participate. It’s a lead up to an even larger global observation, held this year, November 11–12, sponsored and promoted by The Shabbos Project, a South African-based non-profit. Locally, B’nai Israel Congregation hosted events for the observation, also known as the Shabbat Project.

To see more photos from the event, visit www.facebook.com/UJFTidewater/photos and click on the album, Tidewater’s 2016 Great Big Challah Bake.

Laine Mednick Rutherford