June 20, 2024
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Shabbos Project Holds Challah Bake In New Rochelle, COVID-19-Style

On Nov. 5, YINR Women’s League in New Rochelle participated in the world-wide annual Shabbos Project’s Challah Bake. With COVID-19-inspired options for in-person or Zoom, all participants received identical supplies: pre-made dough, baking tins, extra flour and toppings (onion flakes, brown sugar crumble and a poppy/sesame mixture.)

Despite the pandemic, the women remained determined to hold this event this year. “We knew how great and important the event has been in the past and we wanted to make sure we could do it this year in a safe way,” explained event chair Lauren Bochner. “We had to find an outdoor space. Instead of the usual baking challah from scratch, we had to make sure the dough would rise. We bought pre-made dough from Butterflake Bakery in Teaneck and Rebbetzin Yael Axelrod taught various braiding techniques.”

Bochner, a fan of the sweet crumb topping, added, “I was glad to have the event despite what’s going on. It was nice for everyone to come together to make challah. It was a great bonding experience for the whole family!”

Rebbetzin Axelrod stated, “I thought it was special that even though the event was modified this year, we were still able to make it meaningful. While I love leading the women in making their own dough as we have done in past years, we usually don’t have time for a full braiding lesson, and so we made that the focus this year and it was very successful!”

Rebbetzin Axelrod was able to show her four- and six-strand techniques. “Rebbetzin Fink’s opening message really framed the event, and doing the mitzvah of hafrashat challah in the merit of a complete recovery for so many people we know who are sick also added special meaning to the entire evening. Many women were able to participate on Zoom from the comfort of their homes and were able to feel part of the event, even if they couldn’t make it in person. That was certainly a new and wonderful element to what is always a fantastic event at YINR,” she said.

Rebbetzin Axelrod continued, “My daughters look forward to the YINR Challah Bake every year, and this year was no exception. As one of the mitzvot specifically designated for women, I think it is very special to include our daughters in the event, and in baking challah in our homes. It speaks to the continuity of the Jewish traditions from generation to generation.” She also shared

“My favorite challah topping without a doubt is everything spice; if you haven’t tried it, you need to!” she added.

Rebbetzin Fink began by saying, “I look at the power there is in a bracha. Tonight, we say Lehafrish Challah Min Ha-esa, and tomorrow we’ll say hamotzi. Via the bracha, we are uplifted. We’re not just doing the activity, but we are taking ownership. We acknowledge that Hashem brought these things into the world and that we’re sharing in them.”

She continued, “Here we are on Thursday night; it’s different than buying a new bread maker and trying out new yeast dough on Tuesday. It fills the house with a great aroma, but baking challah for Shabbos is a mitzvah and doing it at the right times makes all the difference. Would you sit in a sukkah on Pesach? Or take a lulav on Chanukah? It makes no sense. But a mitzvah, in the right time, is the most beautiful thing. Making challah on Thursday for Shabbos is an Et Ratzon; a specific special time, a time of a segula for whatever we have in our minds and our hearts. Tonight we are adding a list of cholim who need a full recovery, [so] that the merits we accrue by doing this mitzvah will benefit, as well.”

Rebbetzin Fink also revealed her favorite topping is everything spice, “but, truth be told, I enjoy them all!” She added, “What I found special and unique is YINR held its challah bake both outdoors and on Zoom. This gave people a choice of which way they were most comfortable. I was outdoors and I marveled that the weather held up beautifully and that the tables were full! It was particularly nice to see how many younger girls took part in the challah bake.”

Women’s League co-president Ellie Goldenberg, also a fan of everything spice, exclaimed, “I love bringing my daughters to this event! I make challah at home with them all the time; why not bring them and teach them a little more about the mitzvah of challah, participate in a shul event and learn some new braiding techniques,” adding, “Women’s League feels that even though life is different now, and every event cannot present the same way it may have the previous year, it’s still important to continue to host events in a manner that we can, especially annual events.”

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