Archive for Ask Jane

The Big Rainbow Cookie Kerfuffle

Last week the Supreme Court of the United States legalized same-sex marriage – or “marriage,” as it can now be known. Brands large and small were quick to show their support for this decision (see an interesting article on that here), with reportedly 3.6 million tweets created using the hashtag #lovewins after Friday’s announcement.

rainbow cookies Here at Challah Connection, we were quieter about the big legal news. We simply put this image on our website’s home page, featuring our beloved Rainbow Cookies and stating that their colors had new meaning after the Supreme Court decision.

Here’s another famous cookie making a similar statement:

rainbow cookies grahamsHoney Maid graham crackers stated that “wholesome has always been at the core of our products” and that it recognizes, “while the makeup and the day-to-day lives of families have evolved, those wholesome family connections remain the same.” Nice sentiment, zero out lash.

Not so for our rainbow cookie statement. We were a bit taken aback by what transpired. If you didn’t hear about it already, you can see this response online.rainbow cookie kerfuffle

The website wrote about the displeasure of some of our kosher consumers concerning our “endorsement and support of a lifestyle and activity that is unequivocally condemned and forbidden by Jewish Law.”

I was quoted as responding to criticism of our “stance” on these delicious treats by saying Challah Connection will “stand firm in the Jewish values that implore upon us to show compassion and kindness to all beings”. And that, my friends, IS where I stand!

We believe in freedom. We believe in love, and compassion – for all people, of every faith, everywhere. We are here to help all people gain more access to wonderful items that have sprung from our Jewish faith. Our customers include Jews and non-Jews alike,  and that’s one of the things we love about Challah Connection. We are a conduit to Jewish customs, cultural practices, and of course specialty Jewish foods. But anyone can enjoy the special items we sell, regardless of their religious belief. Do you have to be a devout Jew to enjoy a delicious rainbow cookie? To send some rainbow cookies as part of a shiva basket? Certainly not.

This is a big kerfuffle over a cookie. A fabulously delicious cookie. A cookie which is kosher – just like all of the other products at Challah Connection, which are kosher. If we want to have a big Jewish-style debate about rainbow cookies, let’s have it about where their stripes originated, or whether they are more delicious than rugelah. Not about what they mean, or could mean, to people symbolically. Because that is up to each individual person to decipher.

We do not pass judgement on anyone’s lifestyle. We are here because we love our religion, and the many values it teaches: education, compassion, and even questioning our own beliefs among them. No one movement, group or sect “owns” Judaism, it belongs to us all and holds a unique place in history as one of the world’s oldest religions.

It is not up to us to determine what moves people’s spirit, nor judge the direction in which it moves them. But if they are seeking things Jewish – whether that’s rainbow cookies, Sabbath candle sticks, or a mezzuzah to consecrate their new Jewish home – we want to help them connect because Jewish traditions are worth sharing.

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Solutions for 2013 Resolutions

The staff at Challah Connection searched deep within our souls this week (well, okay, maybe we were just goofing around and skimming the surface?!). Anyway, we had a great time coming up with some thoughtful resolutions for the upcoming New Year. Then, we found just the right solutions to help us reach our lofty goals!

New Years Resolution #1: HAVE MORE FUN

We took a very “scientific” poll and found we needed to be more, well….Mashuga. With New Years coming—this is time to practice!

new years basket

This New Year's basket has it all!

New Years gift wine basket

Fun, elegantly packaged!

mashuganuts new years gift

The name says everything....

New Years Resolution #2: EAT BREAKFAST

Nutritionists say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Good thing everyone here knows that challah makes the best French toast!


babka breakfast basket

This will do nicely for breakfast....

  holiday breakfast basket

Can I start this resolution before New Years?

holiday breakfast basket giftbasket

Is it morning time yet?

New Years Resolution #3: LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE

We all need a language that the kids can’t understand, don’t we?! Yiddish fits the bill.

yiddish mugh gift

Drink and learn? Cool!

 Yiddish holiday gift

Jane especially loves this idea!



Dogs are so important to our lives, and we love them so! We’re going to show our love by learning more about how to raise ’em right and speak in ways they can understand.

yiddish mugh gift
And we thought KIDS were tough?!
Yiddish holiday gift

The pooch's point of view matters!


New Years Resolution #5: BE MORE OPEN MINDED

Well, if we need to be less “black and white,” we’d better create some shades of gray!

new years cookies

Black + white = grey....

rugelach new years gift

I think I can, I think I can...!

baklava new years gift

Almost at my resolution...!


New Years Resolution #6: STAY CALMER, BREATHE DEEPER

Ah, the eternal elusive goal, isn’t it? We resolve to do this all the time. Maybe these solutions will get us there for 2013!

yoga new years gift

Yiddish and Yoga? But of course!

chicken soup new years gift

Now THAT's calming! Grandma's soup and a challah. Ahhhhh....


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Ask Jane: Sitting Shiva

Q. Dear Jane: The mother of a very dear Jewish friend has passed away. What is the best way that I can offer comfort to my friend during this time? Is there a specific way I should honor the memory of her mother? I am not Jewish and am not familiar with the traditions.

A. Visiting your friend and bringing food is an ideal way to pay your condolences and show her your support. When a Jewish family experiences the loss of a loved one, the tradition is for the family to sit Shiva [pronounced SHI-vah. ]

Sitting Shiva is the tradition of mourning in the Jewish religion. During the shiva period, typically a 7-day period (the Hebrew word shiva means 7) friends, family and neighbors pay a home visit (“shiva call”) to the mourners. The company of others during Shiva plays a key role in helping the bereaved in this time of mourning.

Jewish custom discourages sending flowers when people are sitting Shiva. However, food is almost always welcome. Some people make donations to a favorite charity in the name of the deceased. For those who are unable to make a personal visit, sending a kosher gift basket such as a Shiva Gift Basket or Jewish Sympathy Basket, with a thoughtful card is an appropriate and thoughtful gesture. Kosher baskets are recommended so that no one is excluded from sharing in the basket contents.

Your gift should have a gift card signed by you (many people often forget to sign their gifts cards). And when you are thinking of what to write, a simple message is best. Consider a message such as “With our heartfelt sympathy,” or “We are so sorry for your loss. May (insert name of deceased)’s memory be a blessing to all who knew him/her.” Another popular option is the more traditional message: “May G-D Comfort You Among All The Mourners Of Zion And Jerusalem.” Click for more help with writing gift cards.

If there is a chance to be helpful, make an offer, or just complete the task, when appropriate. Run errands, pick-up at the airport, host someone coming in from out of town, cook or clean-up, or take care of children. Whatever can be done to remove daily chores from those sitting Shiva becomes an immense help.

If you have a question for Jane about Jewish Traditions, holiday menus, Jewish recipes, gift giving or more, please fill in the comment box below and we will answer it in an upcoming post of Ask Jane.

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