Last night, I was one of 400 lucky ladies who gathered for Minneapolis’s Great Big Challah Bake.
For starters, I think we broke a record for the most Jewish people ever to assemble in Medina, Minn. Yes, 400 women arrived at the Medina Ballroom around 7:00 and each one walked out two hours later with two ready-to-bake, beautifully braided challahs. The logistics of this alone are mind boggling – the ingredients were meticulously pre-measured, the tables were set and the event organizers anticipated every possible baking need. A demonstrator showed each step on stage but “challah doctors” roamed the scene to help with any dough maladies that arose. Pun intended.
What struck me most about the event was the incredible diversity of women present. It was mostly a Jewish event, but I was reminded that this can mean so many things. There were girls as young as ten, grandmothers, and everyone in between. Some women were raised in other religions, while others wore wigs and skirts in keeping with Orthodox Jewish law. Over the course of the event, I heard women speaking in Spanish, Russian and Hebrew.
The Great Big Challah Event is part of an international movement called The Shabbos Project. Their mission is to inspire people around the world to celebrate a compete Shabbat, or sabbath, and connect with their families, communities and themselves. In 2016, people in 85 countries and more than 1,000 cities participated in Shabbos project events and I’ve seen Challah Bake pictures this year from Silicon Valley, Buenos Aires, Johannesburg, Paris and more.
What I loved about this event was a) delicious challah, b) spending time with friends new and old, and c) feeling part of something bigger. I believe that people have more similarities than differences, and I loved getting together with a diverse group of people around a common purpose.
Footnote – my challah braids looked pretty great when I left the event, but between the car ride, Saran Wrap and a night in the fridge, they came out looking a little like Jabba the Hut. They are truly delicious though – better tasting than my first challah attempt last month.
Until We Eat Again,
Two Happy Cooks