Photos: Chana Levine/COLlive
The ambiance started early: outside the venue for the celebratory challah bake held by Crown Heights women’s group Living Chassidus this past Thursday, purple light lit up the sidewalk in the shape of the group’s logo. Inside, the tables were laid beautifully with all the supplies for the bake, as well as delicious treats for participants to snack on.
Mrs. Rochie Pinson, author of “Rising: the Book of Challah,” facilitated the evening’s main activity. After opening with an enlightening talk about the mitzvah of challah and the inner meaning of each ingredient, she walked the participants through the process of creating and kneading their dough. Besides giving basic instructions, she also beautifully described how every person’s challah dough – even when created with the same recipe – will always be a little different, reflecting something about that specific woman. After making the bracha on the taking of the challah, Mrs. Pinson demonstrated various methods of braiding the dough.
In order to ensure all participants got the most out of the experience, cameras projected a close-up of the demonstration on the walls in larger-than-life form. Although most participants had baked challah before, some even regularly, the women left feeling newly inspired about a mitzvah that many take for granted. “I’ve never heard so many beautiful words come out of challah making, and she showed us how to braid the dough so stunningly,” expressed participant Miriam Axelrod after the event.
While the challah was rising, the event organizers ensured that no one would be bored. An energetic round of the game “Kahoot!”, featuring trivia questions ranging from the halachos of taking challah, to Living Chassidus history, to simple logic, was created and MC’d by Living Chassidus member Ariella Salsberg. A beautiful video marking 5 years of Living Chassidus was shown, highlighting events such as farbrengens, community outings, and simchas. Additionally, in the spirit of going m’chayil el chayil, Living Chassidus debuted their newest program: Shabbos Gems, a program to connect women with hidden gem families in Crown Heights for Shabbos meals.
A spontaneous high point of the night occurred when Living Chassidus members surprised founder and director Michal Weiss with a special gift in honor of her birthday. To show gratitude for the immense amount of work Weiss has put into the group, the women collectively raised funds to help pay for the Kallah Teacher Training course in which she is currently enrolled. The heartfelt gift represented one of the great strengths of Living Chassidus: that it is not simply a set of programs, but rather a holistic community that provides a true home for the women involved.
All in all, the challah bake was a wonderful success thanks to the tireless organizing committee, which worked for over a month to turn a dream into reality: Anna Abraham, Ariella Salsberg, Bracha Zirkind, Estie Rider, Shira Nesenoff, and Michal Weiss. Each member of the committee was gifted with a copy of Mrs. Rochie Pinson’s book “Rising: The Book of Challah” with a personalized nameplate.
Living Chassidus also wishes to express tremendous gratitude to the sponsors of the event:
Mazal Zirkind (l’ilui nishmas her sister Rachma bas Rachel)
Daniella Conboy (for a refua sheleima miad mamosh for Efrayim Reuven ben Mina and Esther Gittel bas Thelma)
To find out more about Living Chassidus and its programs, go to livingchassidus.org or [email protected]
What is “Living Chassidus”
Living Chassidus: Shabbos Guest option