my daughter's nursery class. The kids are adorable, the teachers wonderful and
we all had fun getting covered in flour. Some kids say soil instead of
oil. Some kids like the taste of straight up flour. And some kids were
practically licking the table when some sugar escaped the measuring cup.
They all washed their hands before helping and they all kneaded the dough -
except for one little boy who told me, in a totally horrified voice, that he
wasn't going to stick his hands into the dough to knead it. My mommy uses a
machine for that. This way is messy. Truth is, at home, I use a machine too
and it was very messy to do it this way, but it's been years since I have
actually kneaded dough by hand and been up to my elbows in flour, and I miss it.
It was awesome and very Fiddler-on-the-Roofish. Kneaded dough on a table with a
pile of flour is very mother earth, very Birkenstocks and tiered flowered
skirts. All things I love.
three hours later, after the dough has risen, we headed back to nursery to shape
the challahs. Each nursery kid got a big piece of dough and we taught them to
make round challahs, the shape used especially for Rosh Hashana.
Why round challahs? There are several reasons. One is that the round
challah sort of look like a crown, a crown that Hashem wears as the ultimate
Another reason for the round challahs is to illustrate the cyclical nature
of the year. Each year or shana, in Hebrew, draws to a close and
another begins with Rosh Hashana, literally meaning, the head of the year. But,
and I remember learning this in high school (thanks Rabbi L.!) the word
shana also means to change, as in the Hebrew word mishaneh. As
in, we should take stock of how our year has gone and look inward to see what
positive changes we can make this coming year.
If one looks at the round Rosh Hashana challahs, one will find that many
are round and braided but many are in the shape of a spiral - a shape that
repeats itself as it goes around and around. So the question remains, do we want
this coming year to be a spiral, one that repeats itself like last year or do we
want this year to be one in which we make positive changes - whether they be
personal changes or changes in how we treat others or changes in how we connect
with our Creator.
All excellent questions. Just something to think about as you make challah
Wishing everyone everywhere - and especially everyone who reads this blog
(and we've recently hit an average of 120 a day!) a happy and sweet new year, filled with health, happiness and love
and all good things but especially peace in the Holyland.