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Challah Rises to the Occasion


A diligent delegation of women and children were busy baking challah the Sunday before the holiday of Rosh Hashanah at Chabad Lubavitch of Fort Lauderdale.

It was like an assembly line with participants, punching, rolling, shaping, adding raisins and waiting for the exact moment when their round challahs had risen to the precise size to be baked.

This was the 14th year that the congregation has undertaken the task of baking hundreds of challahs for distribution to Jewish patients in local hospitals and nursing homes.

Racheli Smilovitz, a member of the congregation started the project.

“The holidays are a happy time for most of us,” Smilovitz said. “I wanted to do something for those who were not so fortunate, those who were sick or those who were in nursing homes.”

The holiday challah the volunteers made were round in shape rather than oblong symbolizing the desire for a happy new year. They are filled with raisins, adding wishes for a sweet new year.

“We deliver the challah with an apple, honey and a note wishing those in hospitals and nursing facilities a happy and healthy new year,” said Gitty Levin, a member of the baking team and events coordinator for the synagogue.

Jenny Ohayon of Fort Lauderdale said this is her sixth year as a member of the challah baking team.

“I’m originally from Brazil and I look forward to participating in the baking,” Ohayon said. “They need volunteers and I enjoy doing it.”

Corinne Killian of Fort Lauderdale was busy rolling out her dough.

“This is my second year of holiday Challah baking at the synagogue,” Killian said. “It makes me feel good to do this for people who are sick.”

Chana Lipzyc, the mother of spiritual leader Rabbi Moishe Meir Lipzyc of Chabad Lubavitch of Fort Lauderdale was among the bakers.

“This is my first time,” Lipzyc said. “I was a snowbird but am spending more time here. We all try to help each other and it is joyful to do this for others. We kid around and all have a good time.”

Julian Warhaftig, 12, one of the youngest members of the group was busy putting his raisins in the challah.

“I like baking challah and my mom said I could come and help with the baking,” Warhaftig said.

Deborah Cox drove from West Palm Beach to participate in the event.

“It’s a mitzvah to do this,” Cox said. “I used to live in Fort Lauderdale but I moved to West Palm Beach, but I still come back to worship here and to participate in synagogue events.”

Ali Regli of Fort Lauderdale said she comes to bake challah every year to reconnect with members of the congregation.

“The event brings the community together,” Regli said.

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