SHABBAM brings students together for a night of challah baking and braiding

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Photo courtesy of Adam Fagen via Flickr.

By Julia Rosier
For Mitzpeh
@julia_rosier

Maryland Hillel hosted a “Mega Challah Bake” as part of the Shabbat Across Maryland program Thursday night at the Hillel Center. Students decorated challahs with cinnamon, sugar, bagel seeds and chocolate chips for their guests.

SHABBAM is an annual program that allows students to host Shabbat meals with groups of people anywhere on campus.

“There will be about a thousand students, if not more, celebrating Shabbat all over campus and so this week we’ve been doing a series of events in lead up to Shabbam and this is the crown jewel, the biggest one, the challah bake,” said MJ Kurs-Lasky, assistant director at Maryland Hillel. “We’ll have a lot of people here to bake challah and have a homemade challah to add to their Shabbat dinner.”

Each table was set up with measurements of the ingredients and the challah recipe and toppings for students to decorate.

“I think the buzz and the excitement for the challah bake really just sets the tone for what we know will be a great event tomorrow night,” Kurs-Lasky said.

Students were able to make their own dough from scratch using rapid rise yeast. 

“We’re going to do the mitzvah of Hafrashat Challah, which is removing a piece from the dough and that’s what sort of infuses the physical bread with spirituality,” JLIC Educator Avital Hirschhorn said.

After the mitzvah, the braiding began.

“Challah is a very traditional food, it’s very home-y, it’s really yummy, it smells amazing and it’s going to be a really good way to kick off the weekend,” Hirschhorn said.

Freshman Natalie Sharbin attended the challah bake and is looking forward to a SHABBAM meal at her friend’s house. Sharbin said this wasn’t her first time braiding and making dough from scratch.

“I just want to meet more Jews and this is just a really fun activity to all come together,” Sharbin said. “Shabbat’s just really special.”

Sophomore Natalie Paskin participated in the set-up of the event and said that “it was really fun to just see it all come together.”

Paskin said she became involved after a girl in her sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi, was looking for people to set up and become involved. 

“It was cool just to all work together to set up something that I know everyone will enjoy and will end up being a great product at the end,” Paskin said. “I thought it was a really fun thing to do and be involved in.”

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