Saturday, February 20, 2016

Challah - Bread With Meaning

This is my first attempt at Challah, a bread the Jewish families make on Friday to welcome in the Sabbath with their meal.  They light candles, pray the Sabbath prayer with special blessings and enjoy a tasty meal together. Being Seventh-day Adventist I have kept the Sabbath all my life. My daughter, Casey, and I wanted to do something fun from another culture that would highlight the beginning of the Sabbath and so we did the Friday night Shabbat meal.

In order to be ready for the Sabbath all work is completed beforehand. Cleaning, cooking, shopping, business, etc. That makes it easier to sit and really enjoy without pressures to get things done. The TV is off to keep us from distractions. We set the table with candles, silver, and special plate settings.  I bought flowers to adorn the table. All this was done and ready before sunset.

I made the bread around early afternoon.  I discovered you can make the first part and then freeze it.  You need to let it thaw for 5 hours before baking. This is a very rich eggy bread.  I found the recipe posted by Joan Nathan, "My Favorite Challah". It yields 2 loaves. (This represents the two portions of manna that fell on Friday.)

I found on line a video that would show me how to braid the bread.  Just click on the link to watch.(The strands that are rolled to braid represent, arms intertwined, symbolize love, truth, peace, creation, freedom, harmony, family connection, unity and justice.)

Our menu was potato soup, salad plate, cheese, and of course Challah.

I did some reading about the Challah and discovered it is full of symbolism and meaning.  Certain forms of Challah are used for different occasions and holidays.  It is a "sacred" bread. The Jewish Faith doesn't much care for those who mess with this bread in other ways than originally intended.  It's main symbol was to represent the manna God gave to Israel during their years of wondering in the wilderness.  We talked about this at the meal. My grandsons were very interested in what manna was and how it was used.  It was great to find wonderful things to discuss at the table.

Don read from Isaiah 58:13, 14.  It is a perfect text for this type of meal.  He had a prayer and blessed our family and meal.  My oldest grandson also had a prayer and it was the most beautiful prayer I have ever heard him pray. 

I'm so glad we did this fun activity and I think we just may make it a tradition!  Shabbat Shalom!

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