Hundreds of Jewish women from across the community gathered together on Thursday evening at The Hyatt Regency Greenwich to “Unite, Discover, Connect and Share” – while learning the secrets to a traditional bread, challah.
Challah has many spiritual, and some would say magical components. What starts as just five basic ingredients — flour, yeast, eggs, water and sugar — can transform into meditation, blessings and prayers.
There were lots of kneading and braiding going on, as the women huddled together learning the skills required to mix and shape the perfect loaf, to adorn their Shabbat tables.
A light hand was needed to shape the challah, as many women realized – overworking the dough will prove a overly dense loaf. Just the right method was demonstrated, flour was used for dusting the dough, and cute pink gloves helped the hands from getting too sticky (and preserved manicures.)
This was a mega-organized event! Every seven years Jewish communities worldwide come together and celebrate the year of Hakhel. With 500 women scattered throughout the ballroom in round tables, every component was well thought through. Miriam Landa from the Chabad, Fairfield and Maryashie Deren from Chabad, Greenwich were co-hosts of the event, and were on the raised stage, guiding the women at every step. A two person band offered a heartfelt, familiar sound of music. After learning the technique of braiding the bread, each woman took home their challah on trays to bake at home.
“Egg” bread is considered to be richer bread than plain white bread. To make us all rich with health and blessings on Shabbat, we eat Challah. Yeast represents growth because it expands, meaning your family should grow and expand—physically, spiritually and emotionally.
Creating Sisterhood: They learned how to transform what they previously saw as a messy and time-consuming obligation into something beautiful and powerful. Women came with good friends, and extended themselves to others – creating a new circle of friendship. It was lovely to see how many brought their young daughters, the next generation of Jewish women “challah-makers.”
The Jewish woman carries the torch of tradition and passes on the chain of continuity to the next generation. As the backbone of her home, she sets the tone and imbues her environment with its inner spiritual mission.
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