March 4, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Miracle Challah™: Homemade Without the Hassle

Noses everywhere sniff the air as Friday draws to a close, following the scent of warm challah baking in the oven for Shabbat. For many, this is the quintessential taste of Shabbat, the crisp crust surrounding the soft and doughy center. Not many people have the time to spend before Shabbat making homemade challah each week. Challah becomes merely another item on the grocery list, losing some of its power to connect people to Shabbat.

Until her daughter returned from seminary armed with family recipes for challah, Charlotte Rakovsky had a more passive relationship with the weekly bread. The entire family got involved on Friday afternoons, throwing in suggestions and ideas, until they baked the perfect challah. Guests did not even leave crumbs on the table, asking for the secret recipe, or at least their own loaves. Realizing what they had to share, Rakovsky decided to do just that, and Miracle Challah™ was born.

Rakovksy describes their challah as “homemade without the hassle,” and her business cards state, “We make it, you bake it!” The hardest part is picking the dough up from the freezer section in one of the many kosher grocery stores in the area (list of carriers found on miraclechallah.com). Now people can feel as though they have really had a role in making challah, one of the most important pieces of Shabbat. She began selling in One Stop Kosher of Elizabeth, where she lives with her family, also delivering door to door in Teaneck. Rakovsky said, “People just get hooked when they taste it.” It wasn’t long before there were so many orders that she was able to sell her frozen challah dough in stores throughout New Jersey, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Five Towns and Monsey, under supervision of Star K and the Vaad HaRabanim of Greater Elizabeth as well.

Taught by her Polish grandmother, Rakovsky always loved to cook, but that’s not all she does. Twice a week she teaches art in JEC, in addition to juggling the necessary tasks for her business, such as shopping for ingredients, bookkeeping, packaging and delivering. The family has remained involved. Her daughter is in charge of graphics, while her son does marketing and social media. The demonstrations and tastings held are a chance for others to “come and share in the miracle.” She also does fundraisers and welcomes people to send her names for the blessing of hafrashat challah.

Using dough as her canvas, Rakovsky is always experimenting with new flavors. There are both six-braided loaves and rolls available, in an array of flavors, including traditional regular, 100 percent whole wheat, onion, za’atar (made from her original za’atar mix) and chocolate chip. Kneaded into the dough, the flavors are present in every bite. The dough can be customized further in your own home, baking with any toppings you like. Customers have also been getting creative in the kitchen, priding themselves on using the dough (pareve) for things such as pizza, cheesecake and even rugelach!

Miracle Challah™ is more than just a cute name. Rakovsky explained, “Anyone who makes this challah, whether they have experience or no experience, it comes out wonderful for them and it tastes delicious.” In many states around the U.S. it is not easy to get freshly baked challah, something that Rakovsky is striving to change. Her goal is to spread Miracle Challah™ around the country. She revealed, “Making the challah and delivering it to people, I know that I’m enhancing their Shabbat. Everybody tells me that I make their Shabbat so special and this is what pushes me to keep going. Every Shabbat when I sit down and eat my challah I think of all the people who are having their own, tasting it and enjoying it.” She has made it possible for people to share in the miracle and taste Shabbat for themselves.

Sara Linder is a JLNJ summer intern. She is a Teaneck resident and a student at the University of Maryland-College Park.

 

 

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