Union College Mega Challah Bake: Baking More Than Bread

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On Thursday, May 19, more than fifty Jewish students gathered together at the Union Chabad for a fun, meaningful, and of course, delicious Mega Challah Bake.

The event was centered around the baking of challah, a braided loaf of bread typically eaten on the Jewish Sabbath. Each student received their own bowl of ingredients, an apron, and a spoon. From there, everyone baked their own individual challah from scratch.

challah1For Jewish people all around the world, this year marks the hakhel year. The hakhel year comes around once every eight years. It is a year that is focused on unity and large community gatherings. The hakhel year served as inspiration for the Mega Challah Bake event, which brought a large group of students together in unity, for a meaningful learning experience.

In order to make the experience of baking challah about more than just a loaf of bread, some learning had to be done. Before the baking commenced, the spiritual purpose of each ingredient was explained. The recipe for challah calls for seven basic ingredients: yeast, salt, oil, egg, flour, water, and sugar.

The first ingredient was yeast. Causing the dough to rise, the yeast serves as a symbol of Jewish pride and confidence. As each student added the yeast into their bowl, they were reminded that they should take pride in who they are and have confidence to stand up to those who might challenge their identities.

challah2The recipe then called for water, which sustains all life. Next was sugar which represented sweetness, kindness, and giving. Both kindness and giving are fundamental to Judaism. The last three ingredients were oil, salt and flour. The oil symbolized the importance of blending in, the way oil does when mixed with certain ingredients, while still managing to stand out and rise above, the way oil does when mixed with certain other ingredients. The salt represents the indestructible spirit and lastly, the flour symbolizes effort, toil, and growth. The amount of change the flour has undergone and the amount of work put into the flour from the time it was planted to when it makes it into the bowl for baking, is tremendous.

Once all the ingredients were mixed together, the participants had a moment of silence to reflect and pray for their needs and the wellbeing of others. Then, the dough was ready to be braided. In keeping with the hakhel year and the welcoming values of Chabad at Union, this final step before baking the challah represents the coming together and intertwining of different people and the importance of community.

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