Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
The Schmooze

Zach Banner’s real-time introduction to Jewish food is the most wholesome thing on the Internet

The Schmooze knew we were in for an afternoon treat as soon as we heard Zach Banner, the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle and newly minted “Friend Of The Jews,” uttered the words: “So there’s this awesome…bread.”

If you’re a Jew who’s ever ventured to make a comment about food on social media, you’ve probably been disillusioned by your brethren’s unfortunate tendency to humble-brag about their 2,000-stranded challah on Instagram, litigate kashrut in the Facebook comments section, and start Twitter wars over their bubbies’ recipes even when those recipes turn out to consist entirely of Sweet ‘N Low and Russian dressing.

This afternoon, skip the tsuris and experience the wonder Jews derive from food when we find it in ourselves to stop arguing about it. Devote four minutes of your time to watching Banner taste challah for the first time…ever.

But first, the Jewish backstory on this miraculous footage. After Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson posted anti-Semitic quotes to his Instagram in early July, Banner was one of just a few NFL players who spoke out in support of the Jewish community, urging fans not to “leave another minority race in the dark” and choking up when he recalled the synagogue shooting that took place in his home city. That gesture, plus the charm of watching his unscripted videos — gentle stream-of-consciousness narratives that might lull you into a nap if they didn’t constantly shock you with that rarest of phenomena, a man voluntarily admitting to learning new things from other people — gained him accolades, invitations to Shabbat dinner, and literal offers of marriage from Jewish fans.

We would have forgiven Banner if, after the ninth offer to be introduced to someone’s sister, he decided to cool it with the solidarity. Instead, he continues to be interested in “educating myself on the Jewish community” — possibly because that education seems to involve a lot of food. This week, he teamed up with the Challah Back Girls, a quartet of New Jersey sisters who have been selling challah and donating the proceeds to social justice causes since early June (this video aside, their Instagram presence is probably the second most wholesome content on the Internet right now). This week, their chosen cause is Banner’s B3 Foundation, which supports underserved schools in Los Angeles, Tacoma, Wash., and Guam.

Prefacing his taste test, Banner did world Jewry some big favors by squashing common misinformation about our standby starch. After some tutoring from his manager Lauren, he said, he’d learned to pronounce the awesome bread’s name not with a hard “ch” but the correct consonant combination, which he proceeded to enunciate with a guttural fervor that would make any Hebrew school teacher proud. And thanks to “some teenage boys in my mentions,” he’d learned not to use the redundant phrase “challah bread.” (The Schmooze would like to take this time to invite all teenage boys to sit down and let Lauren handle this).

After talking up the Challah Back Girls’ plain and coffee crumb challah like he was auditioning for a post-football career at QVC, Banner tucked into two “slices a.k.a. hunks,” which he ate with the kind of disbelieving grin that is triggered only by a first encounter with a newborn of a first encounter with a carbohydrate the size of a newborn.

A warning: If you’re watching this film with your Jewish mother, you should cover her ears at minute 2:23, when Banner reassures his trainer that despite breaking his carb-free diet (yuck), he ate the challah with a “soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free” spread. Our ancestors may not have come to this country to see their baked goods desecrated with butter substitutes, but the Schmooze has faith that Banner’s friends in the Jewish community will one day make him see the error of this choice.

Just wait until he finds out about rugelach.

Irene Katz Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at [email protected]

Engage

  • Events

    Vegas, It Isn’t: How Israeli Elections Sent Shockwaves through the Israel-Diaspora Relationship

    OFJCC Campus in Palo Alto, CA

    Dec 11, 2022

    5 pm ET · 

    Do the recent Israeli elections have an impact on the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry? Bear witness as rock stars of Israeli policy come together for a frank conversation about the Israeli elections as seen from the vantage points of statecraft, diplomacy, academia and politics.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

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