By COLlive reporter
Mega Challah Bakes have become a worldwide phenomenon and a much loved and attended event at many Chabad Houses around the world.
The concept was born more than 10 years ago in January 2009, in Stamford, CT, When Shlucha Leah Shemtov had a goal to have 118 women, in one room, at one time to partake in this special Mitzvah. 212 women packed the still unfinished sanctuary, in the beautiful Chabad building built by Rabbi Yisroel and Vivi Deren. From there it caught like wildfire and bakes have been happening at all times of the year, all over the world.
This past Sunday, September 22, Rabbi Moshe and Leah Shemtov of Chabad of Stamford, took its Mega Challah Bake concept to a whole new level by not only having women, but opening it up to men, women and children of all ages. It was an inspiring afternoon of unity and connection in preparation for Rosh Hashanah.
The Family Mega Challah Bake saw a record-shattering turnout of over 900 people join them at the Italian Center, in Stamford, under ‘’one big tent’’ to partake in this unique mitzvah and come together to make, shape and bake challah, while offering special prayers for one another, for their families, our community and particularly prayers of healing to those in need.
The “ruach and energy were incredible and infectious,” commented Dr. Stuart Silverstein who came with his family for his first challah bake. Beth Bear who brought her husband and son to their first one too was equally impressed. “Having the challah bake include men and children brought such a great feeling of community:” she said, adding “I love how Chabad of Stamford, welcomes us all no matter how observant or affiliated we are, to give us a stronger sense of Judaism.”
Using the energy of collective prayers to bring wonders, blessings and goodness to the world, a special prayer was made for a 10-year-old Gan alum who had recently undergone a bone marrow transplant.
The afternoon kicked off with the amazing Dr. Schnitzel, mad scientist extraordinaire, who entertained the kids and a special cocktail reception for the event’s donors.
This year Chabad was blessed to be joined by special guests including IDF soldiers (courtesy of the FIDF) who lead them in Tehilim (psalms), and Sandy Shapiro accompanying them.
The event saw wide-ranging participation from all walks of our Jewish community and all levels of affiliation coming together in unity and support for one another. “Rock Star Leah Shemtov did it again” Marianna Tehrani commented. “It was an amazing event full of fun and great energy,” she added.
Chabad believes that the act of making challah together while a universally enjoyable activity on one level also connects people spiritually in potent ways as challah represents the blessings from above for material and spiritual sustenance and abundance.
People of all ages came together on the last day of summer for a fun-filled, energetic afternoon of enjoyment and meaning. Stella Cohen who hasn’t missed a mega challah bake since they first started, In Stamford, commented that ‘’the challah bake was an incredible experience which brought together over 900 people to bake over 1800 challahs for Rosh Hashanah”
For Elise Klein, it was a wonderful way to connect with old friends and new. “Leah and Rabbi Moshe Shemtov always manage to unite the Stamford Jewish Community with their wonderful events,” she said. “The day was truly fantastic and inspiring, the food and décor was outstanding and the challah of course, was delicious!”