If you ask any Jewish child what they like best about Friday night dinners, one of the most common answers is challah. The staple Jewish bread is associated with Shabbat, special occasions, and most importantly, the BEST type of bread to use when making French toast. This is why I had no hesitation when a friend invited me to her home recently for a challah making class. What I didn’t realize, however, was that I’d be walking away from the experience with much more than the most beautiful round challah I’ve ever made (okay…the only round challah I’ve ever made). I left the experience with a new appreciation for the process of making challah, feeling grateful for good family and friends, and a new positive outlook on life.
My mother-in-law, AKA the Challah Queen, would say challah is best when it’s made with love. For years she’s been bringing people joy thru her delicious challahs, even traveling with suitcases full of them meant for special occasions. Now that I’ve made my own, I have a new appreciation for her craft. The truth is it’s a lengthy process that must be prepared in the proper order and with grave attention to detail. This is why it’s the perfect food to make alongside friends.
Throughout the process, I wouldn’t pour a single ingredient into the bowl prior to checking with my trusted friends to make sure I had the right measurements. When I needed a break from kneading the dough because my arms were starting to hurt, we took turns and helped each other out. Throughout the process we talked about life, our families and the conversation flowed as naturally as the dough was rising. We bonded over our beautiful challah creations and I felt incredibly grateful to be spending the afternoon with these amazing women.
When folding laundry I can either sulk about how the pile never seems to be getting smaller, or focus on how fortunate I am to have more than enough clothes in which to dress my children.
Waiting for the dough to rise, which can take a few hours, gave us time to talk further. We settled in and got comfortable, sharing with one another details about our busy lifestyles. It was a therapeutic experience and a much needed respite from the stressors of our daily lives. We talked about the importance of making every moment count, even the most mundane activities such as laundry and doing the dishes. Since leaving the challah class, this is something that I try to remind myself of on a daily basis. When folding laundry I can either sulk about how the pile never seems to be getting smaller, or focus on how fortunate I am to have more than enough clothes in which to dress my children. At home after dinner, I can either get annoyed with the amount of dishes piled up in the sink or feel grateful that I have food on the table to eat and two beautiful children that I love to make special mealtime memories with.
The process of making challah takes patience. This is something I don’t always have enough of during the day, especially when dealing with my kids. Making every moment count reminds me to appreciate how fast they are growing up and to not take a single moment with them for granted. It keeps me optimistic, viewing the laundry basket as being half empty instead of half full. I am excited to use my new challah making skills again and make extra to share with family and friends on Shabbat, even if they don’t taste quite as good as the Challah Queen’s.