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Email CANDLE LIGHTING
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First Annual Mega Challah Bake
Over 150 women and girls were treated to an evening of inspiration, Challah baking, music, and fun when Chabad held their first annual Mega Challah Bake on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at the Chabad House in New Brunswick, NJ. Women from the local Jewish communities of Highland Park, Edison, and East Brunswick mingled with Rutgers students and women from as far away as Marlboro, Manalapan, and Brooklyn. "

For thousands of years, Challah baking, and, specifically, the mitzvah of “separating challah” has been a symbol of the Jewish home ever since our matriarch Sarah shaped challah loaves in her tent. Every Thursday, for over the past 25 years, students at Chabad House at Rutgers, continue to practice the mitzvah. Led by Rebbetzin Sarah Goodman, Rutgers students gather in the Chabad House kitchen and bake challah loaves for the hundreds of students that come in for the Friday night Shabbat meal. This year, the local community was able to join in the mitzvah and make Challah to grace their own tables on Shabbat.

The Mega Challah Bake event began with a lavish buffet of salads, sandwich wraps, salmon, fruit, cookies and cake.  With the array of food prepared by the Chabad Dining staff, it was easy to understand the source of the “Freshman 15” since this was the way the students with the Chabad meal plan eat each day.  Large round tables were pre-set with Challah baking materials and supplies for each participant as well as an apron and goodie bag.

Rebbetzin Goodman formally opened the evening as she described Challah baking as the “essence of the Jewish woman”, as it is one of only three mitzvoth that are either mostly or exclusively performed by women.  Covering the other female-centric mitzvot of family purity and lighting Shabbat candles, a description of the mikvah at the Chabad House was provided and noted that a set of Shabbat candles was included in the goody bag.  She humorously described the misadventures of her first attempt at baking Challah and assured the room that their efforts would be far superior. Years of Challah baking with students at Rutgers and at home have perfected her skills. She then proceeded with the step-by-step-instructions for the attendees to use the pre-measured prepared ingredients in front of them and the   Challah baking process began. And like many attendees, this was her first formal Challah bake.

Mrs. Rivka Pevzer, principal of Sinai Schools of Paris, spoke about the life of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, the wife of the last Lubavitcher Rebbe, whose quiet behind-the-scenes work was critical to the success of the movement. Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka’s practice of private public service was exceedingly powerful, as was described in the brief movie that was shown.

Conversation flowed as the individual ingredients turned into dough. Roz Beberman of Highland Park has been successfully making Challah for several years but her first attempts would not have won any awards. She confided that her mother-in-law used one of her early challahs as a doorstop.

Mindy Berman, also of Highland Park saw the Mega Challah Bake as not only a good community event to bring people together, but it was also something she could share with her daughter, Edie.

Danielle Cohen saw the advertisement for the Mega Challah Bake at the Chabad and thought it would be “awesome and fun to be with friends and make Challah”.

The Mega Challah Bake was coordinated by Rabbi Mendi Pevzner, a new addition to the Chabad House staff. Thinking that it would be a good way to introduce the students to the local community while showing the community what Chabad has to offer, he planned the event as the first of many that will incorporate the community with the students. Rabbi Pevzner moved here from Brussels where Jewish life does not involve as many communities as it does here in New Jersey. A Mega Challah Bake seemed like just the ticket to bring everyone together. He sees the importance of involving the community and looks forward to planning more events.

As the challahs were set aside to rise, musical entertainment by Mrs. Esther Freeman brought many bakers to their feet to dance. Standard simcha tunes and original compositions accompanied by a cellist had the room together in song. Freeman’s music ranged from slow soulful ballads to high-energy songs based on deep esoteric concepts of the Torah and life experiences, all accompanied by personal stories.  The strength of her songs was evident in her meaningful lyrics that reflected a genuine passion to share the beauty of Judaism with the world.    The original compositions focused on daily life as woman, wife, and mother that all could identify with. For example, the song “Superheroes” reminded everyone that we are all superheroes in what we accomplish each day and that it doesn’t take a cape or the ability to fly to be a hero.  Heroes come in all shapes and sizes and even the most mundane tasks of daily family and work life are worthy of superhero status. Freeman, who uses music and lyrics to empower women, resonated with the audience and their busy, multi-tasking lifestyles.

At the end of the evening, attendees were given instructions as to how to braid Challah. Using the trays provided, participants made individual challahs and rolls and placed them in foil baking pans that had baking instructions printed on the lid.

This event was made possible through the generous sponsorship Saker ShopRites and partnership with the community organizations of Highland Park and Edison. The event may have been the first for Rutgers Chabad, but will likely turn into an annual event.
















 

 


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