A 35-foot challah in NYC aims to beat Guinness World Record

The lengthy loaf, made in collaboration by Jewish organisations as part of a Shabbat initiative, could break the 2019 record


The 35 foot long challah was baked in a tunnel oven at David's Cookies in New Jersey. It was then loaded onto a wooden plank and transported to the Upper West Side where it was unveiled at a day school's Shabbat assembly. (JFNA/Vladimir Kolesnikov)

A 35-foot-long challah loaf unveiled in New York City on Friday is in the running to break a Guinness World Record.

Upper West Side Congregation Rodeph Sholom organised the gargantuan bake in collaboration with the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the Orthodox Union, aiming to beat the current world record for longest challah: a 32-foot loaf baked by Grandma Moses Bakery and the Jewish National Fund chapter in New South Wales, Australia in 2019.

The challah, which measured 35 feet, 2 inches and weighed over 200 pounds raw, was braided at Strauss Bakery in Brooklyn and then loaded onto a truck to be baked in a kosher commercial kitchen in New Jersey, the only one in the New York area with an oven that could fit such a lengthy loaf. From there, it was transported back to Manhattan, where dozens of volunteers were required to help unload it.

Sarah Eisenman, chief officer of community and Jewish life at JFNA, spearheaded the endeavour as part of a JFNA initiative called Shabbat of Love, for which over 250 organisations partnered to help Jews organise and host thousands of Shabbat dinners across North America on 19 January.

“We came up with the idea of doing the Shabbat of Love to uplift people and to communicate the idea that you’re loved for who you are and you’re loved for being Jewish, as opposed to a lot of the messages that I think people are absorbing right now from social media,” Eisenman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

She came up with the challah idea as a way to unite the Jewish community over something collaborative and joyful. Eisenman told JTA that the collaboration between the Orthodox Union, the non-denominational JFNA and the historic reform synagogue Rodeph Sholom is “exactly the kind of unifying message we need right now.”

On Friday morning, the challah was unveiled at a school Shabbat assembly for the students and families of Rodeph Sholom Day School. Although Eisenman said the loaf was “doughy” in parts, it was gladly eaten by community members of all ages.

The measurements and video evidence of the challah have been sent to the Guinness World Records, and the collaborating groups expect to hear the verdict shortly.

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