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Week 11: "Around the World in Four Weeks"

Daniel Barash

The alarm clock sounds at 6 AM, we load the dough into the car (real dough, not the green variety), and we’re bound for Palo Alto. It’s the last session of the four-part family cooking Havurah at the Oshman Family JCC, and I’m bringing my husband and my daughter along for the experience. For it’s Aviva who in a sense was the inspiration for the whole “Challah-it-Forward” endeavor, and I’m eager to show her how it’s manifested. I wrote about Session 1 for Week 7’s post, and here we are, one month, and dozens of challah later!

What has the journey been like? Quite doughy, thank you very much! I never thought I’d spend so many Saturday nights quintupling already large challah recipes in preparation for early morning classes. There were minor catastrophes (forgetting to put the pumpkin in the pumpkin-infused challah dough and having to start again from scratch at 10 PM; mixing the whole wheat dough and realizing that it was much too sticky and would need major help in the morning), and a very big learning curve (measure all of the ingredients for the dough that families will mix in class before the families arrive!). But by and large, the classes were a great success: most sessions had between 7-10 families, with children ranging from ages 3-13; parents and grandparents alike participated; and smiles and laughter were evident throughout, with “Oohs,” “Ahhs,” and “That tastes really good!” common refrains.

We made Czernowitzer Challah from the Ashkenazi tradition, Pan de Calabaza from the Sephardic tradition, Noon Shabbati from the Near Eastern Tradition, and Whole Wheat Challah from the Really-Healthy-For-You tradition! For the final class, we sampled breads from all four weeks, and they were all delicious!

The highlight of every class was definitely carting the just-baked challahs up the elevator to deliver them to members of the Moldaw residencies. For it was here that bread was graciously given and eagerly received. It was here that introductions were made, and small connections forged. And it was here that I would look around the room and see up to four generations sharing a moment…together.