Some concepts to know in preparation for our Beth Shalom
SUPER SUNDAY Family and Congregational CHALLAH BAKE!
- There are two words for bread in Hebrew: lechem and challah. Lechem is the everyday bread, challah is the special, usually white egg bread reserved for Shabbat.
- Challah is also the word that refers to the portion of dough set apart for the high priests in the Temple of Jerusalem. This concept emanates from challah which is a Hebrew term used in Numbers 15:20 and Ezekiel 44:30, where it means “the priest’s share” of the baking dough.” It is also one of the three commandments incumbent upon women, “taking challah,” that evolved sometime following the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 CE. Following the rising of the dough, women would separate a piece and burn it in the oven or fire to remind them of the offerings to the Temple. For nearly two millennia it has symbolically replaced the sacrificial offerings. All challah that is baked today is kosher only if “challah has been taken.”
- It was the Eastern European immigrants who put challah on the gastronomical map in this country. In biblical times the Sabbath bread was probably more like present-day pita. Through the ages and as Jews moved to different lands the loaves varied. But only in America could Jews eat challah every day of the week. In many cultural traditions, a round challah at Rosh Hashanah became a symbol of life. Usually the Rosh Hashanah bread is formed in a circle, to signify the desire for a long life. In certain towns of Russia, the round challah was imprinted with the shape of a ladder on top, to symbolize the ascent to G-d. Many challot traditions were lost as a result of the Holocaust or because of religious suppression.”
~ Much thanks to the brilliant Joan Nathan and her tome: Jewish Cooking In America, [Knopf: New York] 1998 (p. 72-3).