HomeDecember 2014Pounds of Dough

Pounds of Dough

1214megachallaEight hundred women entered the gates of TVT/JCC Basketball court asking this question: “What is a mega challah bake?” They had heard about it and signed up, and the mystery continued until they made it through the gate. As soon as they walked in, it started to become clear. The colorful, long rows of tables with brightly colored bowls, complete with challah kits and chairs wrapped in shocking pink Challah Bake aprons, hinted that a festive drama was about to unfold. The large stage with two huge monitors, music from loudspeakers, a complete Shabbos table and bright balloons brought it home…this is going to be Mega! A little more than two months prior, a grassroots group of fourteen women from all affiliations committed to make Orange County part of the international Shabbos Project of 2014. This consortium of women, with and without sheitles, long sleeves and flip flops contacted every shul and every Jewish organization in Orange County.  At first, the goal was 300, and two months later, 800 women had committed to attending. A miracle? In 2013, the Shabbos Project Keeping it Together was born in South Africa. The Challah Bake brought 3,000 women to the streets of Johannesburg. In 2014, its manifesto was to bring together Jews of all walks of life, of every age and from all corners of the world—uniting to experience one complete Shabbat Together.  Its motto is ‘One People One Heart and One Shabbat.” From Australia to Russia, from China to Argentina, from Italy to Canada and 27 countries in between, Jews were united in Shabbos and Challah. The Keynote speaker in Orange County was Sara Briman, who came to us from Mexico. Her challah won the American Academy of Hospitality Science’s Five-Star Diamond Award in 2013. Before she demonstrated her award-winning recipe, she explained that the secret behind a good challah is not the pastry, but the prayer behind each ingredient. As she spoke her inspirational words, the deeper, shared spiritual experience began. Soon everyone was layering and mixing their ingredients. But the kneading really brought everyone together: “Check my dough, is it all right?” Soon various kneading techniques were buzzing at every table. Our OC was en masse, united with international communal kneading and prayer. The courtyard was aglow with a feeling of sisterhood and belonging to something bigger. It was an inspirational evening. The multi-media program with videos and song was uplifting. Prayers by Rebetzen Natalie Ciner and a special story from Gilah Andrusier marked high notes. Cantors Sue Knight Deutsch and Natalie Young and cantorial soloist Jenna Fagan raised the roof. The OC Mega Challah Bake brought deep connection, joy, sisterhood, prayer and unity to our community. It started with a question. It ended as an unforgettable miracle. See you in 2015. Robin Mintzer Davis, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Newport Beach. She is Co-Director of the Los Angeles Attachment Study Group and Master Teacher and Researcher in Guided Autobiography.

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