Women baking challah together

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, January 24, 2013

In the past few decades, baking challah has become a means of women coming together in prayer and introspection. The Mishnah lists the mitzvah of removing a bit of the dough and setting it aside in memory of the priestly gift of challah as one of the mitzvot especially for women (Shabbat 2:6).

In some communities, there are challah workshops in which women “sift” and “knead” their values and individual goals. Just as many women say a small personal prayer before lighting Shabbat candles, the moment before the blessing on removing the challah portion for the priests is also an opportunity for prayer.

Today, Facebook abounds with virtual groups of 43 women (the numerical value of challah) who bake challah together. Each week, they pray for a different person while baking.

Although certainly not a feminist movement, the network of praying and baking together is a new and empowering twist on an ancient ritual.

Last updated: 1:59pm, January 24 2013