Mega-Challah event unites community and the generations


"Tonight we are celebrating for so many reasons," shared Devorah Leah Dubov, co-director of Chabad of Greater Orlando, at the Chabad community's second annual Mega-Challah Bake, which took place on Oct. 22, and more than lived up to its prodigious name. "We are celebrating that tonight we made it to 400 women, between our two locations, over 200 here in Maitland at the Civic Center, and another 200 in South Orlando at the Rosen JCC. We are here, together, celebrating the power of women and we are celebrating the mitzvah of challah."

In addition to the Mega Challah Bakes in Maitland and South Orlando Chabad at UCF hosted their second annual Mega Challah Bake cosponsored by Alpha Epsilon Phi, Alpha Epsilon Pi and Student Government Association for students on Oct. 13. Ond hundred and fifty students came together to mix, knead and braid delicious Challah. This year the event was done in honor of our brothers and sister in Israel, and a mitzvah campaign was introduced at the event where students took on different mitzvah to do for the safety of our brothers and sisters. "For Jewish students, challah brings back memories from their Shabbat dinner at home; making challah at Jewish Sunday school and at Chabad we serve challah at Shabbat dinner each week. It always bring back great memories. Many students do know the origin of the mitzvah and doing it on a wide scale many people can learn the traditions behind this amazing mitzvah. It was also very meaningful to do the event in honor of our brethren in the Holy Land" said Rivkie Lipskier co-director of Chabad at UCF  

Dubov said that this year's Mega-Challah Bake in Maitland and South Orlando would have a new twist, expanding its impact and its outreach with "Loaves of Love," which joined the Chabad community with several Jewish agencies, including the Jewish Pavilion.

Pam Ruben, marketing director of the Jewish Pavilion, revealed the "Loaves of Love Concept" over the live video hookup that connected the two venues. "Each woman will prepare two loaves of challah at this year's event. The challahs should be baked at home, with each woman keeping one loaf for herself and her family, and passing along the second loaf to an elderly person or friend as an act of love and kindness," Ruben explained.

Nancy Ludin, executive director of the Jewish Pavilion, suggested that Challah-Bake participants drop off their second challahs at Brookdale-Island Lake in Longwood, where they would be appreciated by elderly residents at their Shabbat celebration the following day.

Chanshy Majesky of Chabad of North Orlando went on to explain the significance of challah making, a mitzvah unique to women. She shared that the mitzvah of challah comes into play when a blessing is recited and then a piece of dough is separated from the rest and is set aside. She added, "Tonight an additional mitzvah will be performed, when each participant returns home, and puts away their second challah for delivery to a senior the next day. They will be spreading love and kindness to the elderly, who are often under visited and underserved."

Bracha Liebowitz, program director at Chabad of Greater Orlando (Maitland); Dini Druk, programming and development coordinator for Chabad of South Orlando (Rosen JCC); and Chani Konikov, co-director of Chabad of South Orlando (Rosen JCC) delivered expert instruction on challah preparation. The participants, who were seated at round tables, with premeasured ingredients neatly packaged on their plates, were directed to rip open the package of yeast on their plates, and to add water, followed by a pinch of sugar to test the health of the yeast. As the dry and wet ingredients were mixed with one another, the challahs came together quickly. The women adorned in matching aprons, kneaded, rolled, and separated the dough in an act of sisterhood and unity.

Just before it was time to leave, a catchy video created by Dini Druk reminded participants how to "Mega-Challah Bake 2015," with instructions ranging from baking the challahs at home to delivering the second challah as an act of kindness to a senior, perhaps at Brookdale Island Lake in Longwood. Several of the attendees took the instructions to heart, and delivered their challah to an appreciative senior at the Island Lake location at their Shabbat service the following day.

Challah Bake attendee Jodi Rosen braved the rush hour traffic on Highway 434 in Longwood to make sure her challah was delivered to a senior at the Longwood facility. Rosen's two children, Michael and Ariella, rushed in and greeted a visiting Pearl Bernstein with their freshly made challah. Bernstein embraced the two children, sharing that she was touched by the friendliness of the community, where she is considering relocating to be closer to her daughter.

Maria Morrison and her son Mark also dropped off a challah, which they shared with a resident named Ruth. Ruth smiled warmly as she took in the scent of the fresh challah, and noted that she would enjoy a taste after dinner. Both Morrison and Rosen stayed for Shabbat and inquired about future volunteer opportunities with Pavilion seniors, who reside in more than 50 elder-homes throughout Orlando. Morrison shared, "I feel for the residents and their inability to get around. It was my pleasure to come out and share challah with them today, and I would like to visit again."

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