Make your own

This has been the week of learning about bread making. On Sunday I attended a fabulous sourdough masterclass run by a good friend, and this evening I ran a challah workshop for a few women at home (don't panic WLS folk - it was a test run - we'll do one at shul too sometime). We began by making the dough so that it could prove and rise while we learnt about the biblical origins of challah, a little about what the Rabbis did with it, the idea of separating the dough, and what forms it has taken around the world.
Along with the fun of baking and giggling together, I always enjoy teaching in this way because I learn from everyone else, whether it's new ways of reading the text, or new ways of plaiting the challah so it rises up and not out!

There's something incredibly satisfying about creating bread for oneself, particularly bread as special as challah, but sourdough too was very satisfying. My mum always said we eat salt and challah because salt and bread are the basics we need (it's also because Leviticus 2:13 commands us to salt meal offerings) and producing these basics for ourselves is very empowering. We can make them healthier, or sweeter, plaited or ladder shaped,

but as with all rituals, when we learn about them and engage with making them for ourselves, just as making bread is empowering, making and understanding rituals is empowering and they suddenly come to life and mean so much more.
We may pick and choose (and I think we all pick and choose, whatever denomination we choose to pray with) but what we pick should be something that makes us as excited as kneading dough and producing our own challah made us on Wednesday. Only if these things really engage us and bring something meaningful into our lives will they have any chance or need for continuity. Shavua tov and hope you enjoyed your challah! (this was supposed to post Friday afternoon but just discovered it didn't!)


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