Once a month, I teach a class in baking challah. There are no machines involved. The (adult) students and I gather the ingredients, proof the yeast, mix in the flour and sugar, eggs and honey, salt and oil. Month in month out, we work off of the same recipe and turn and twist, punch and knead, fold and braid. And never has the resulting bread tasted the same as the batch made the month before. Each challah, like each of us, is unique. Just as we are a mixture of nature and nurture, so too is the finished challah a mixture of the measured ingredients and the care those ingredients received. For challah, I have come to see, while clearly bread that we eat, is also a metaphor for life.
Yesterday I arrived in Tel Aviv for a long-anticipated vacation that’s centered around a dear friend’s wedding. This morning, I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the day than to belly up to the bar of an open-air eatery in the Carmel Market called Shuk Shuka.
I recently stood in line with more than a thousand Russian Jews, waiting for sushi — the highlight of Saturday night’s dinner at the Limmud FSU conference, which is the largest gathering of Russian-speaking Jews in North America. It was kosher sushi, of course. The other meals at the event, held at a Hilton Hotel in Westchester, which is about half an hour from New York City, were all Israeli–style: hummus, baba ghanoush and challah.
Engel Reisling 2016 — Finger Lakes, New York