Let's Bake a Difference
A group of 850 Jewish women from around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex recently gathered together at the Fashion Industry Gallery to bake traditional challah for their Rosh Hashanah tables. Bakers united in the spirit of prayer and joy for an evening of friendship and solidarity, all while enjoying wine, live music and dancing.
“Challah Bake is an event of positivity, happiness and good energy,” says Baila Dubrawsky, participant, coordinator and wife of Chabad of Dallas Rabbi Mendel Dubrawsky.
Although this may not be what many consider to be a typical example of how people may bake bread, Chabad of Dallas proudly organizes and hosts the annual Challah Bake. Currently in its fourth year, the lively gathering is specifically for young ladies and women, ages 10 and up, to learn from each other and to share the secrets of baking the yeast bread typically eaten on the Jewish Sabbath and during major Jewish holiday meals.
Challah, pronounced “hallah,” is most commonly seen braided, though can be shaped into a loaf or decorated with raisins, and is made of a sweet or a savory dough. The ingredients and recipe are fairly simple: yeast, warm water, oil, honey, eggs and flour. However, the women attending Challah Bake come for so much more than simply prepping their loaves of bread.
During the fun-filled, two-hour event, no actual baking occurs. That would be a very difficult process to manage with the growing attendance each year. Instead, attendees spend time in fellowship with one another, talking, laughing and sharing information while mixing ingredients, kneading and shaping the dough in pans to take home for baking.
Prayer is a very important part of the process of making challah. Baking a blessing over the bread prior to separating a small piece of it to set aside as an offering is a powerful expression representing centuries of tradition.
“We come together in the spirit of good will and prayer,” Dubrawsky says. “We pray for the sick, for women who want to have children and more. A large group of people praying is stronger than a single person praying. Then, a portion of dough is set aside to always keep in mind those who do not have.”
This year’s Challah Bake took place shortly after Hurricane Harvey dumped trillions of gallons of water on the city of Houston and the surrounding areas. Event organizers made a decision to hold the event with the purpose of standing in solidarity with those who were displaced, those who were trapped and those who lost everything in the rising floodwaters.
United as one global community, attendees offered prayer and support to the Jewish community in the Houston area.
“It was an evening of solidarity in support of our family,” Dubrawsky says. “Individual tickets for the Challah Bake were $36, and it is planned for a portion of ticket sale proceeds to benefit Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.”