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August 30, 2015 | 15th Elul 5775
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Challah Covers

Information: Emily Grotta, 212.650.4227


A Shabbat Celebration with Hand-Made Challah Covers

Challah covers created by 3rd, 4th and 5th graders of the ten Reform

Congregations that are hosting the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial

HOUSTON, TX—Nov. 1—“We wanted to involve the children,” said Barbara Brookner, one of the Co-chairs of the Local Arrangements Biennial Committee for this year’s Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial being held in Houston, Texas from November 16 through November 20, 2005. The Union for Reform Judaism’s convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center will bring 4,500 Reform Jews from across North America and Israel to Houston, Texas.

Mrs. Brookner’s idea was to have the children create Challah covers, so there would be a Challah cover for each Challah (twisted egg bread) at the 14 regional dinners that are being hosted at the Friday Shabbat dinner on November 18, 2005 at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

Each of the ten host congregations received pre-cut muslin cloth. A total of 550 squares were hand cut. The children, 3rd, 4th and 5th graders, had a choice of creating a cover with a Shabbat theme or a Jewish theme.

The 10 Reform congregations in the Greater Houston area that are hosting this Biennial are:

Congregation Emanu El, Congregation Beth Israel, Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism, Temple Sinai, Congregation Jewish Community North, Congregation Beth Shalom in the Woodlands, Temple Beth Tikvah, Congregation Beth El, Congregation B’nai Israel and Temple Emanuel.

Riana Sherman, Activities Coordinator for the Helfman Religious School of Temple Emanu El in Houston said, “Our students thoroughly enjoyed participating in this Mitzvah Project and did a phenomenal job.” Adds Marna Meyer, Religious School Director of the Helfman School, “They had smiles on their faces and concentrated very hard and loved taking part in something like this.”

The Challah, a twisted egg bread eaten on the Sabbath is covered with a cloth. As with most things Jewish, there is more than one explanation. The first explanation comes from the time of the Israelites' wanderings in the wilderness, when God sent manna from heaven each morning to feed them. The loaves are covered with cloth, like the manna was covered with morning dew.

But commentators also perceived an ethical lesson in the practice. Since the wine is blessed before the challah, we cover the challah is covered so that we do not hurt its feelings. In The bless Committed Life: Principles for Good Living From Our Timeless Past (Harper Perennial), Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis writes: "Obviously, challah does not have feelings, but our sages wanted to impart a lesson to us. If bread, which is inanimate, must be treated with such care and consideration, how much more so must we be on our guard not to embarrass or hurt a person."

The Union for Reform Judaism is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. Union programs and services include music and book publishing, adult education opportunities, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, and the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC.




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