Situated on a table in the center of a white tent was a 9-foot-long challah, or braided bread.
Baked in a 10-foot-long oven at Gemelli’s Bakery, 129 S. Pugh St., by Tony Sapia, the challah is in contention for a record in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Students and community members balanced challah, kosher hot dogs and personally made a shofar as they came together at the Jewish Life Festival on Tuesday night in front of the HUB-Robeson Center
“We want to give an experience to Jewish and non-Jewish students of Jewish-life,” said Rabbi Nosson Meretsky, director of Chabad at Penn State.
An online application was submitted to Guinness to determine if Sapia had baked the largest challah ever, Meretsky said.
“Tony and I both did research,” Meretsky said. “They have the largest hamburger bun and largest pita. So we’re hoping they can add this as the largest challah.”
While the application takes four to six weeks to be processed, Sapia — owner of Gemelli’s Bakery and Tony’s Big Easy — is prepared to bake a longer challah for the actual review if needed, Meretsky added.
At other tables, attendees could participate in four hands-on activities.
Attendees braided challah, which was baked in a convection oven powered by a nearby generator. Once it was baked, people took the challah with them.
Making a four-braid challah for the first time, Randee Sedaka (freshman-forensic science) said she was proud her bread “didn’t look horrible.”
Stationed next to the right of the challah station, attendees could also make a shofar, a hollowed ram’s horn used like a trumpet in Rosh Hashanah ceremonies.
“I’m trying to make it really smooth, though it looks pretty either way,” Sedaka said, sanding her shofar.
Behind the shofar workshop sat the potential world-record challah.
At the table beyond the 9-foot long challah, a Jewish scribe wrote attendees’ names in Hebrew and offered explanations of his craft.
“I’ve written my name in Hebrew school before, but I’ve never seen it professionally done. It looks really beautiful,” Sedaka said.
Next to the Jewish scribe, a steady line of about 20 people waited for kosher hot dogs.
A Jewish band from Los Angeles, 8th Day, sang in Hebrew and Yiddish. During the event they gave out free CDs.
“I really like the band. It sounded country at first, which isn’t really me. But they sound good now — even a bit jazzy,” Sedaka said.
Chabad held a similar event last year, though the Jewish Life Festival grew significantly this year. In the past, the different workshops were held independently, though they came together in the Jewish Life Festival this year.
Rabbi Meretsky’s wife Sarah, co-director of Chabad, said she expected several hundred visitors to attend Tuesday. Last year, between 50 and 100 participated.
“Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, and it makes me happy when everyone else is happy,” she said.