Three years ago, the Jewish community of South Africa under the guidance of their Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Warren Goldstein, inaugurated The Shabbos Project, inviting all the Jews of South Africa to celebrate a complete Shabbat together. The concept of Jewish unity under the banner of Shabbat was contagious.
Thousands of women gathered on the Thursday evening before the designated Shabbat and in small and large groups around the country, baked challah. Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and unaffiliated enjoyed sharing the challah baking experience with friends old and new.
The Shabbat itself was a time of “unplugging and connecting”- shutting off the devices and connecting to family, friends and heritage. Its success spawned a worldwide event last year and now, again, this year approximately 550 cities around the world are hosting Shabbos Projects events.
On Thursday evening, October 22, 2015, over twenty women in the Scranton/Clarks Summit area met at the lovely home of Phyllis Chazan for our Shabbos Project Challah Bake! Nancy Ben-Dov, Heidi Cohen, Dassy Ganz and Sara Shaina Stubbs organized the supplies. Malki Saks provided her famous challah recipe for participants to take home on laminated cards.
Thank you, Phyllis Chazan, for suggesting that we dedicate our challah baking to the safety of our brothers and sisters in Israel.
And then, the dough making began!
Each participant had pre-measured packets of all the challah ingredients which made it simpler for even the novice to follow. Once the mixture was together, women learned that for the challah dough to rise it “needs” to be “kneaded” and knead they did.
While our challah dough was resting, Aviva Brotsky gave the group an enlightening talk on the beauty of the mitzvah of challah and Miri Salkow showed the group the actual “taking of challah” and, after making the blessing we each used this “ait ratzon” (auspicious time) for silent personal prayer.
Watching, learning and doing was the next step in braiding the challah. Some braided with four strands and the less faint of heart learned how to braid with six! So much laughing and good natured comraderie made the time fly.
Everyone received a disposable challah pan and home instructions for the final bake. Everyone left uplifted and relaxed and, who knows, some might become challah bakers.
For videos and information on the worldwide Shabbos Project, visit www.ShabbosProject.org