Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

This Shabbat, Challah Is Key — But Why?

Today, the Instagram account Frumfun shared a great photo featuring a bearded man dressed in a shirt and slacks with a challah tied up in his tzitzit (a ritual garment with specially knotted fringes worn by religious Jewish men).

But what is the story behind this oddly-shaped, easily transported challah?

Shlissel challah, or key challah, is traditionally baked on the Shabbat following the holiday of Passover to celebrate the return of freshly-baked delicious bread (and freedom from matzo!).

But the shape of the loaves also contain symbolic significance:

As Carol Unger writes on the Joy of Kosher blog, “It is a Jewish mystical teaching that [God]’s goodies are locked up and our prayers are the ‘key’s’ to opening His storehouse. The act of making schlissel challah is in and of itself regarded as a way to draw down the Heavenly blessing of parnassa or sustenance.”

Making key challah for this Shabbat? Email us your photos for a chance to be featured!

Laura E. Adkins is the Forward’s contributing network editor. Contact her at or on Twitter, @Laura_E_Adkins.




Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to Foward. Have questions? Please email us at

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.