By: Erica Lampert ~Staff Writer~
Anyone who has ever been interested in learning how to make bread is in luck. The Center for Interfaith Community Engagement and Home-X (Cooking Club) are teaching Xavier students how to make Challah.
On Dec. 9 in the Hoff Dining Hall, members of the two clubs will assist those who want to learn how to make the Jewish Shabbat bread known as challah.
“We feel this event is important for students to experience, as it provides an educational and fun opportunity to learn something they may not have known before about the Jewish faith and traditional Shabbat dinners,” Center for Interfaith Community Engagement Cabinet Member Courtney Rapp said.
The event is held to introduce the Interfaith Shabbat, which will feature a traditional Shabbat dinner and the Challah bread that students made earlier during the week.
“As the Shabbat dinner is an annual event that our center holds, we thought it would be important for students to see some of the extra details that go into making this event authentic and a success,” Rapp said.
Challah is a special Jewish bread that is traditionally eaten on Shabbat day and Yamim Tovim. Challah actually refers to the Kohanim’s (priest’s) share of the cake (Challah), donated in Temple times to the Kohanim, and it is a Biblical command to separate a small amount of the dough that one kneads when baking bread. Torah refers to this mitzvah (commandment) of separating the Challah. The rosh (head) of the dough is separated and given to the Kohanim.
Today, the Challah can no longer be observed as a priestly offering, so in order that this mitzvah may not be forgotten, the piece taken is burned in the oven in lieu of giving it to the kohanim. This is intended to symbolize the sorrow of the destruction of the Temple.
The separation and burning of challah is required at the time that the dough is kneaded, and it must be separated only if a specific amount of flour is used in making the challah dough. Challah can be made from five types of grain: wheat, barley, rye, oats or spelt. If 20 cups of flour are used (five pounds or more) the challah must be separated.
A blessing (“Blessed are You, Hashem, our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to separate the challah”) is recited just prior to separating the challah from the prepared dough. Traditionally, the amount separated should be equivalent to about half the size of a large egg.
Challah served on the first Shabbat after Pesach sometimes have a key-shaped decoration on top. The key represents the key to the “gate of release” from the bondage of Egypt. The “gate of release” can be opened for one month after the festival, according to tradition.
In order to celebrate the Shabbat and Yamim Tovim over the years in different communities, Shabbat and Yom Tov Challah have been made in a variety of shapes and styles: rectangular, oblong, flat, braided, round, filled with raisins and sprinkled with seeds. The Jewish law also makes no demands as to the size and shape in which a Challah should be made for any occasion.