Five days after the deadly attack by Hamas on Israel, Sisterhood of Congregation Emanu El, Houston hosted a program. I’m not sure Jewish life as we knew it would ever be the same, but it was meaningful for me to come together for a program in our temple. We were there to make challah, the food of our people, that would be able to enjoy the next evening for Shabbat.
I personally attend a few sisterhood meetings and programs each year. When the invitation to this event came through, it sounded like a good time. I texted a few people to see if they were going too. Growing up I never made challah, but through the years I had friends make it and it was always delicious. Fast forward to my first experience at this event, it turned out to be way more fun than I expected.
Feld Hall at our congregation was decorated with balloons and breast cancer awareness-themed centerpieces, and three stations were set up for the dinner. Long tables were set up for the challah project. We all chatted with each other for a bit and then took our places at the long tables.
Each place had all the ingredients we would need, most of which were pre-measured.
It seemed like several other women had never made challah either.
The instructions were simple, and Phyllis, the program chair, and her assistant came around and helped (and tried to keep us focused).
We all talked and laughed as we tried to prepare the dough with the right consistency.
I still can’t believe how easy it was in comparison to what I had imagined.
Once we were satisfied with our dough, we had dinner and an informative women’s health program on breast cancer awareness.
Then, back to our dough.
Some people chose to braid their challah, and others took the ball of dough home. We all liked giving it a few punches! I braided mine, with some help.
Friday morning, we all baked our challahs at home. A few of us shared pictures and we were very impressed with our work. For me, it turned out extra nice as I had a friend who was not feeling well, and I brought her homemade chicken soup and fresh, out-of-the-oven challah! I regretfully had to give most of it away because I couldn’t stop eating it!
The timing could not have been better as we gathered that evening - a group of Jewish women, in our temple to learn of the blessings of the ingredients and spirituality behind making challah.