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Sunday, December 09, 2018

Ramona Elishis and her daughters at last year’s challah bake.

Jewish Journeys leaders.

Challah baking is an experience steeped in tradition and spirituality. Jewish Journeys, once again, will be the engine behind coordinating one of the most inspirational challah bakes in the North Jersey area. Jewish Journeys is a grassroots organization whose mission is to strengthen the Jewish home. It brings Bergen County Jewish mothers with children under the age of 18 and a limited Jewish background on a nine-day, birthright-like trip to Israel through the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP). Once the women return home, Jewish Journeys provides the women and their families with programs such as weekly classes, monthly challah bakes, Shabbat and holiday celebrations, sing alongs, get-togethers, Hebrew classes, ladies’ night out, reunions and so much more.

Jewish Journeys looks to bring that same mission to its annual challah bake, to be held at Factory 220 in Passaic on October 25.

When women come together that day to make challah, they will be part of something far greater than just the number in the room. In addition to anticipating 800 women in Passaic, this event will take place worldwide over the Wednesday and Thursday of that week, corresponding to the upcoming International Shabbos Project weekend. South Africa, Israel, Australia, the United States, South America and other countries all over the world participate in these events.

“This isn’t just about challah,” explained Debbie Rosalimsky, chairwoman of the event. “It is about women of all Jewish backgrounds and generations, having an opportunity to get inspired, connect and have fun while learning about the how tos, the mitzvah of and the spiritual connection to challah.” The evening is also about familiarizing the community with Jewish Journeys and its mission as well as raising the funds that will enable it to continue the various programs it provides.

This year, the challah bake has an added twist. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Jewish Journeys is partnering with Sharsheret and Myriad Women’s Health, which will be in attendance and offering educational resources. Myriad will be providing BRCA screening before the event, as well.

“This has become a challah bake for the body and the soul,” said Rosalimsky.

With the partnership, this year’s challah bake has also been rebranded as the Great PINK Challah Bake, since pink is the color representing breast cancer awareness. With cheerful pink decor throughout, the event’s only non-pink offering may be the challah itself, though Rosalimsky laughingly offered that “everyone is welcome to add pink sprinkles to their challah once they get home if they wish.”

The lineup for the evening looks to be both entertaining and inspiring. Shera Dubitsky will emcee with her wit and humor. “As a senior advisor for Sharsheret as well as a known and beloved figure in our community, she is a perfect match for this year’s challah bake,” said Rosalimsky.

In addition, Devorah Kigel, a marriage and dating counselor, speaker and avid challah baker will lead the women in the challah making and hafrasha bracha. There will be a challah table coach at each table to help participants with anything from the mixing to the kneading and the braiding. While the dough rises, Naz, from iMove With Naz, will get everyone in the room on their feet and dancing.

“This is the third year we will have Naz with us and each year she gets the room rocking with her amazing energy,” said Rosalimsky. After the dancing, there will be a challah braiding demonstration. The evening will conclude by announcing the winners of the raffle/silent auction.

Many women have already registered, some of whom have attended in the past and eagerly anticipate the annual evening. “It’s so humbling being in a room with hundreds of amazing Jewish women,” said Ramona Elishis of Bergenfield, who attends each year and has already reserved her seats for this year. “What a powerful, inspiring night! I’m so grateful to have been a part of it.”

“Sharsheret, which means chain, is such a perfect organization to partner with us for the evening,” said Rosalimsky. “We are seeing the chain of generations, watching women of different ages and backgrounds come together to bond and make challah.” Rosalimsky herself, who was never a challah baker until five years ago, now finds the experience one that transcends the food experience. She feels that making challah brings an additional level of holiness into her home.

“We are grateful to our corporate sponsors as well as the community’s generosity in making this evening a financial success.” Rosalimsky said. “Most of the essential elements needed to run the event have been graciously donated or given to us at cost. Factory 220 is donating their fabulous venue for the third year in a row, BML-Blackbird
is providing the AV and Inflated Creations is donating the exquisite balloon centerpieces. Other sponsors include A&E Fine Art, Berkshire Bank, Myriad Women’s Health, Northeast Private Client Group, North Jersey Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery and Sari’s Wigs.”

Whether someone is an expert challah baker or new to the experience, The Great PINK Challah Bake hopes to welcome you to this spiritually uplifting evening of unity at Factory 220 in Passaic, on Thursday, October 25. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. and the event is from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

For those interested in being tested/screened for the BRCA gene, please arrive early and bring your insurance card. Please note that women interested in the BRCA screening will have to pre-qualify by answering a few short questions. To register, go to https://www.showclix.com/event/JJGreatPinkChallahBake-General.

By Jenny Gans