Memories of Last Year’s Great Challah Bake by Yael Zelinger


medium_challah.jpgSix weeks before D-Day, seven women gathered around to plan The Great Big Challah Bake for hundreds of Jewish women in Baltimore. Although we did not yet know one another, each woman contributed her strengths to make it happen. On top of their pre-yom tov cooking, the organizers and the visionaries, the artsy people and the data people, the big-picture thinkers and the detail oriented list-makers, motivated solely by a spirit of unity, took on responsibilities.  Unlike other events that are “owned” or branded by certain types of organizations and institutions, The Great Big Challah Bake was owned by the Jewish women of Baltimore, as the list of volunteers grew and grew into the hundreds. Volunteers from every zip code and dress code signed up with gusto. And when the participants started streaming half an hour early, that current of warmth and anticipation for amalgamation (?) filled the gigantic rooms.

Scores of hands kneading challah dough from scratch… tables of women praying for each other… chains of women dancing throughout the gym… mixed and jumbled… old neighbors and newly minted friends… and a chorus of voices proclaiming “Amen” to the blessing on the dough (Hafrashat Challah)… That’s what made The Great Big Challah Bake so significant, so unique.

For my part, I felt like a small cog in a big wheel, but I was so proud to be part of that big, beautiful wheel!

To join or get involved in The Great Challah Bake 2105 go to

CJE is an agency funded by THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.