Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cooking with Your Kids, from Braiding Challah to Making Hamentaschen

More than 20 families and 60 adults and children came to the synagogue on Sunday, February 21 to learn how to make Challah in a fantastic and fun event presented by the Gan Yeladim at Ezra Habonim, the Niles Jewish Township Jewish Congregation (EHNTJC).

Amy Claver provided her favorite recipe last week, and above you can learn how to braid a six strand challah. Here's another approach, if the one above is tricky. In fact, if you search "How to braid challah" on YouTube, you'll end up with a variety of approaches and styles. (Thanks, Miriam, for sharing this idea!)

With the Megillah reading and Purim Shpiel tonight, and the Purim Carnival tomorrow, probably a good idea to talk about making Hamentaschen too!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Teachable Moments

by EHNTJC Parent Amy Claver

When you teach your child, you teach your child’s child. –The Talmud

I love this Talmudic quote* for its simplicity in summing up what every parent, teacher, rabbi, and anyone who teaches anyone else what all our toil is about. Above all else, we are influencers of the next generation. As a parent, you shape the little people in your home, and how you do this will determine what they do and how they act with others, especially their own children. We will give our children a lot of information over the years, but it is what we do, not what we say that will have the most influence on the kind of people they become.

Next Sunday, we are having a teachable moment at the synagogue. We will come together as a community, little families one by one, congregating together to celebrate and make challah, one of the central symbols of Shabbat, the most sacred time of the week in the Jewish tradition.
There will be a lot of learning going on, how to make challah, how to shape challah, making a special plate for your challah. And above all else, Rabbi Ginsburg will talk about the special significance and importance of challah and Shabbat. It is our hope that this event enriches your understanding and appreciation for the most beautiful gift of Shabbat and you continue (or begin) welcoming and honoring Shabbat at home with your family. It is just possible that your children will share this beautiful gift with their own little people one day.

We will have a brochure at our challah event for you to take home with you. It includes a recipe for challah as well as some of the special Shabbat blessings. Please look at the previous post for a challah recipe that is one of my favorites. It is from Judith B. Fellner’s beautiful book, In the Jewish Tradition, A Year of Food and Festivities. It takes about three hours to make from start to finish, but this rich, eggy challah is well worth it (and makes yummy French toast).
For information on braiding and an explanation of when to say the blessing to separate challah when making the dough, please see
Finally, for a great book on celebrating Shabbat, I highly recommend The Modern Jewish Mom’s Guide to Shabbat by Meredith L. Jacobs. It is a wonderful read and a great guide to all the elements of observing Shabbat at home.

I look forward to seeing you at our challah making event on Sunday!

*The original quote is When you teach your son, you teach your son’s son.

Amy Claver is a member of Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation. Daughter, Sarah, age 4 attends the Gan, and son, William, age 6 is a Gan graduate and attends Hebrew School on Saturdays.

Making Challah at Home

From EHNTJC Parent Amy Claver

Challah from the beautiful book, In the Jewish Tradition, A Year of Food and Festivities by Judith B. Fellner

Ingredients (makes 2 loaves)

5-6 cups flour
¼ cup honey or 6 tbls sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
1 package dry yeast
½ cup pareve margarine, softened
1 cup hot tap water
4 eggs at room temperature, one egg separated
½ cup raisins (optional)
1 tsp cold water


In a large bowl, mix 1 ¼ cups of flour, the honey or sugar, salt, and undissolved yeast. Add margarine and hot tap water and beat 2 minutes at medium speed in mixer. Scrape bowl occasionally. Add 3 eggs, egg white, and ½ cup flour to make a thick batter. Beat 2 minutes at high speed. Fold in raisins. Scrape bowl and stir in enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and turn to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk, approximately 1 hour.

Punch dough down and turn onto lightly floured board. Divide dough in half. Shape dough. Place both shaped challahs on greased cookie sheets. Beat remaining egg yolk with water and brush on loaves. If omitting raisins, sprinkle on 2 poppy or sesame seeds, if desired. Leave uncovered to rise until double, approximately 1 hour.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Photo credit mollyali

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

February Events: Lots of Learning, Living, Loving!

February is a fabulous time for families and for all at Ezra Habonim, The Niles Township Jewish Congregration. Be sure to sign up for the

  • Challah Baking (and Gan open house--please bring friends, neighbors, relatives, who might be looking for pre-school for the fall) on February 21, $8 per family.

  • Spaghetti Dinner, Megillah Reading and Purim Shpiel (writing by congregation member Ken Dermer and performed by the EHNT All Stars (e.g. the talented singers, dancers and comedians we sit next to every Sunday and never knew their hidden talents--including Elena Levin, just returned from her extended performance in Phantom of the Opera in Las Vegas!), all on February 27, $12 adults, and $6 kids.

  • World's Greatest Purim Carnival, Sunday, February 28, 10:30 to 12:30

Call the office, 857-675-4141 to reserve a spot and/or purchase tickets for the Spaghetti Dinner/Megillah/Shpiel or Carnival; call Betsy Rotberg in the Gan for the Challah Baking, at 847-675-4152.

So much fun, so little time! Don't miss out on the great family fun and learning still to come in February at Ezra Habonim, The Niles Jewish Township, Your Jewish Home for Learning, Living and Loving.