Challah for hunger

By Eve Neider

Can I get a challah! Challah (haa-luh) is a Jewish bread that is braided, soft, and sweet. In Hebrew, Challah means loaf or cake. It is made with flour, eggs, salt, sugar, yeast, water, and oil. It is often eaten at Jewish ceremonial services such as Shabbat, but can be enjoyed with any meal. For Shabbat, the challah is covered with a cloth and a Kiddush (prayer) is said holding wine. You are supposed to wash your hands, the cloth is removed, and then you say another prayer over the challah, which you then eat. Two loaves of challah are often consumed on holidays to commemorate God sending a double portion of manna (food from heaven) to the Israelites during their Exodus from enslavement in Egypt. Challah is often topped with honey, jam, butter, or one can include additions such as cinnamon, sprinkles, and raisins. While there are always three quintessential strands that symbolize truth, peace and justice, on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur the shape is round, representing continuity. Challah originates from a mitzvah or a good deed by separating a piece of dough before braiding and giving it to the kohen (Jewish priest)/rabbi. Today, many kosher bakeries tear off a piece of dough and burn it in the bottom of the oven. 

Challah For Hunger is a club at Syracuse University’s Winnick Hillel Center that prepares, bakes, sells challah, and donates the proceeds to various charities. Half of the profit goes to Meals on Wheels Syracuse, which is a nonprofit organization that gathers and delivers meals to people in the Syracuse community who are unable to adequately serve themselves. The other half goes to Nazun, which is the national philanthropy that encompasses Challah for Hunger. The Syracuse University chapter started in 2017 and is still going strong today. 

President Abby Davis said, “I joined Challah for Hunger as a way to continue my engagement in Hillel programming. I wanted to have a leadership position and draw in students to this fun organization.” 

The baking takes place at the Winnick Hillel Center at 102 Walnut Pl, Syracuse, NY 13210. They occur twice a month, and you can sign up through a simple google form that is on the Instagram page @challahforhungersyracuse.The preparation is on Thursdays from 7 PM-9 PM, the bake is Fridays from 11AM-1 PM, and the sale is right after. Each session, there are different seasonings and additions such as cinnamon or everything bagel. The challah is sold for $4 each, but you can also make a donation of any amount. There is a QR code you can scan or a website to buy the challah. You can pay through venmo, card, or Apple pay. Each bag has facts about the pressing issue of food insecurity. The loaves can be stored in plastic wrap or in a Ziploc bag/container at room temperature for five days. Challah for Hunger is a fun activity to do with friends, or to get to know more people– religious affiliation does not matter. It is a great way to learn about either your own or a new culture, all while completing community service. 

Davis says her favorite memory from Challah for Hunger is “…seeing the amount of engagement and volunteers who have come to our events. Our biggest accomplishment is that we made over $1,000 last semester!”

Here are some delicious recipes that include challah: 

French toast 

  1. Get a loaf of challah and cut it up into even slices.
  2. Mix 4 eggs and then add ½ tsp of cinnamon, 3 tbsp heavy whipping cream, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tbsp brown sugar, and pinch of salt.
  3. Add a couple of tbsp of canola oil to a frying pan and let it preheat
  4. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture. 
  5. Put the slice into the pan and let it cook 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. 
  6. Add your favorite toppings, like syrup or jam. 

Bread pudding with caramel sauce

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put 8-10 cups of cubed challah bread in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together 4 cups of half-and-half, 5 eggs (beaten), and 2 tbsp of vanilla extract.
  4. Pour this mixture onto the bread and toss it until evenly coated.
  5. In a saucepan melt 12 tbsp of butter over medium heat. Remove from heat and add 1 ¼ cup of brown sugar and ¼ cup of sugar and whisk until it’s smooth. Pour mixture over the bread and toss 
  6. Put the pudding into a greased 9×13 baking pan, cover it with aluminum foil, and put in the refrigerator for an hour to set.
  7. Bake the pan in the oven for 45-55 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown. 
  8. Caramel sauce: melt ½ cup of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and whisk in ½ cup of brown sugar until smooth. Stir in ½ cup of heavy cream and 1 tsp of salt until smooth. 
  9. Pour glaze over the cooled bread. 

Grilled cheese 

  1. Get a loaf of challah, and cut it up into even slices. 
  2. Butter one side of each slice, and repeat for the other slice.
  3. Put 2 slices of cheddar cheese, 4 slices of tomatoes, 2 slices of ham, and chopped onions between the slices 
  4. Cook for 4 minutes on one side, flip the sandwich, and let it cook for another 4 minutes until toasty.

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