Archive for Jewish Traditions

Rosh Hashana Is Just Around The Corner!

We are in the heat of the summer, but Rosh Hashana is not far away. Don’t be caught off guard this year, as the holiday falls on Wednesday, September 4th this year, just two days after Labor Day.

 Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, is a time of celebration of the New Year and new beginnings. It is an occasion to embrace friends and family, and enjoy this very special time of the year together. Don’t forget about the blowing of the Shofar (the rams horn), which is heard several times on the holiday. Get the kids involved with their own High Holiday Shofar this year; it is sure to keep them occupied!

Gift giving is a very common theme that surrounds the Jewish New Year. There are many food staples for this holiday including: apple cake, apples, honey, challah, and much more! Here at Challah Connection we have a plethora of Rosh Hashana gift baskets that will be sure to leave a sweet taste in your mouth. Some of our most popular gifts include:

Here at Challah Connection we have a fabulous Rosh Hashana product catalog prepared for you, featuring a wide array of New Year gifts. Click Here to request our catalog, which will be going out soon!

Click Here to browse our selection of Rosh Hashana products. It’s never too early to start thinking about what you want to surprise someone special with this New Year.

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Seder Plate 101

The Elements of the Seder Plate

seder platePreparing the seder plate can get to be a little rote – we’ve done it so many times before. We don’t think too hard about it, we just follow the printed directions on our seder plates! But in case you need a little reminder of why we’re really doing “all this,” as it says in the Hagadah, here’s a brief lesson in the elements of the seder plate.

1. Three matzot.

They’re actually meant to symbolize the three castes of Jews: Priests, Levites, and Israelites. Then there’s also the three measures of fine flour Abraham told Sarah to use for the matzo. Finally, Abraham and Sarah were visited by three angels. So three is a big Passover number!

2. The lamb shank.

It represents the sacrifice that was made the night before the Jews left Egypt. After that, a sacrifice was made every year in the Holy Temple on the afternoon before Passover. Can you imagine that sacrifices were made in the temple? Hard to conceive of today!

Passover seder plate3. The egg.

It symbolizes the holiday offerings people brought to the Holy Temple. It’s also a symbol of life and renewal, of course.

4. The bitter herbs (maror).

Our forefathers were plenty bitter during their enslavement in Egypt, and this is our reminder of their suffering.

5. The Charoset.

This delicious treat is meant to symbolize the mortar and bricks the Jews made during slavery in Egypt. Apples, nuts and wine make a tasty reddish “mortar” – good thing there was no concrete back then or who knows what charoset would have to be made of!

6. The root vegetable.

We place a non-bitter root vegetable on the seder plate to remind ourselves of the arduous work the Jews did as slaves.

eclectic Passover seder plate7. The lettuce.

It’s actually also a reminder of the bitterness of slavery. When Pharaoh first deceived the Jews into working for him, he was not so harsh. But eventually the Jews became entrapped in cruel slavery. The symbolism is that the lettuce leaves are sweet, but if you left Romaine lettuce to grow, its stem would eventually turn bitter and hard. So remember, use Romaine, not iceberg!

If you’re invited to be a guest at the seder this year and you need a Kosher for Passover gift, a seder plate is a wonderful Passover hostess gift that will always be appreciated. Many families put more than one seder plate on the table, especially when there’s a large group. So bring along one of our beautiful seder plates, or add to your own collection!

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Win a Passover Gift with our Kosher for Passover Dessert Contest!

kosher for Passover cake

With so many unique and meaningful traditional foods that must be prepared for the seder (like charoset and gefilte fish), kosher for Passover desserts are one part of the seder menu where we can get a little more creative. We want to know what you’ve tried in your own kitchen that’s been a hit Passover dessert!

Enter our Passover Dessert Contest!

Challah Connection is giving three wonderful kosher for Passover gifts to the lucky winners submitting our favorite, most creative Passover dessert recipes.

Have you made your own gourmet version of chocolate covered matzo perhaps? Maybe you’ve kicked that recipe for Passover sponge cake up a notch or two, or created your own version of the traditional Passover raspberry roll cake? Please share your success!

Win a Passover Gift as a Prize, or Send It to your Seder Hostess!

RULES: By Monday, March 18th, post your kosher for Passover dessert recipe in the comments section of our blog or email it to Jane@challahconnection.com along with any other interesting facts related to your recipe. If emailing, include subject line: “Passover Dessert 2013.” Recipes will be judged based on creativity, originality and ease of use. Winners will be announced on March 20th. If you are a winner, we will email to notify you and at that time get your name and shipping address so we can send your prize.

First Prize:

Our delicious Savory Nosh Basket for Passover, a value of $119.99.

 

 

 


passover macaroons gift basket

Second Prize:

A sweet Passover Candy and Macaroon Platter, a value of $39.99.

 

 

 

 

Passover cookies gift basket

Third Prize

Schick’s Assorted Kosher for Passover Cookies, a value of $14.99.

 

Prizes will be shipped to you or a recipient that you choose (US shipping only).

We can’t wait to choose and share some wonderful, creative kosher for Passover dessert recipes with you.

 

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Select a Unique Passover Gift Basket that Lasts

Whether you’re an invited guest for a Passover seder or you want to spread the joy of Passover’s spirit of freedom, a beautiful kosher for Passover gift basket will mark the holiday that heralds springtime! We have a wonderful selection of gift baskets for Passover brimming with delicious treats and staples for the holiday: chocolate covered matzo, Barton’s almond kisses, and Passover nut platters among them. Maybe this year you want to send a special piece of Judaica they’ll use and appreciate now and for many years to come?

Send some Passover Judaica as a Hostess Gift

Passover PlateThis is truly a piece of Passover Judaica to treasure: A beautifully painted Passover tambourine celebrating Miriam’s role in the exodus. This version of Miriam’s timbrel has vivid, lively colors and is a functional tambourine that makes a wonderful, musical addition to your seder. Created by artist Betsy Teutsch, this tambourine is a  professional Remo percussion instrument that can be hung in the home and taken out for joyous celebrations! BUY $97.99

Miriam’s Cup for your Seder Table

Miriam's cup   Send your daughter, your mother, or the wonderful hostess who invited you to the seder a beautiful Miriam’s Cup to grace the festival meal’s table! Not only is it the perfect hostess gift for Passover, but it’s wonderful for any girl celebrating her bat mitzvah this year, or that special young woman starting a household of her own. BUY $45.00

A Special Elijah’s Cup

elijah's cup passover This silver plated Elijah’s cup is wrapped with decorative wire and small colorful beads. Why not make it a Passover gift for your grandson, your son, or that special nephew? Who says it’s only the hostess who should get a hostess gift for Passover, anyway? Bring one to your seder host!  BUY $47.00

A Unique Haggadah as a Passover Gift

unique Passover haggadahThis is a unique Passover gift anyone would love to receive. The Hamsa is thought to bring good luck and protection. Here, it becomes the backdrop of a beautifully different Haggadah. Send this unusual Passover gift and make an artful impression that will inspire and extraordinary seder. BUY $19.99

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Passover: Create more Freedom at your Seder

One of my friends’ fathers jokes every year that “Passover is a holiday where we celebrate freedom by enslaving women in the kitchen.” Okay, so he’s got a point! But isn’t all this preparation for the seder an example of true freedom, when you really think about it? Are we really “enslaved” in the kitchen, or there by choice?

It may not always feel like “freedom” when you’re busy in the kitchen for days on end making matzo balls and chicken soup and polishing up your seder plates. But it’s also a labor of true love: love of family, love of tradition, and yes – love of freedom.

Of course, on the flip side, we are also free to choose not to do certain things on Passover! Preparation for Passover seders and the week of keeping kosher for Passover can be quite tiring. Here are some ways to lighten the load of seder preparation. Or maybe you’re going to a seder instead of hosting this year? Bring them one of our beautiful kosher for Passover gift baskets and be their favorite guest.

Let Us Deliver the Passover Dessert

kosher for passover desserts

You’ve arranged for all the other parts of the seder meal – why not leave dessert to us?

This Kosher for Passover gift basket includes a box of Matzel Toff – matzoh covered with delicious toffee and enrobed in chocolate. Plus the nostalgic Barton’s chocolate Almond Kiss candies, Seder Maven Passover macaroons, assorted cookies, and dried apricots. There’s even herbal tea and honey to top it all off after a fulling meal and scrumptious dessert. BUY NOW $179.99

kids activities for Passover

Keep the Kids Entertained

You can’t be watching them when you’re trying to serve the matzo ball soup, but you can give them some activities to keep them occupied!

Send a Passover gift basket for kids packed with holiday fun. A coloring book, crayons, masks and stickers – what more could they need? Keep the Lollycones hidden till it’s just about dessert time, then break them out while hot coffee and tea is being served – the kids are bound to stay put and stay safe! BUY NOW $49.99.

Passover seder hostess gift

Arrive Prepared with a Kosher for Passover Hostess Gift

Invited to a seder this year? Not sure what to bring as a hostess gift that’s kosher for Passover and delicious? We’ve got you covered, and you don’t even have to bake anything.

Bring some Renanati Cabernet Sauvignon in an elegant gift box and tin of Barton’s Almond Kisses, cello wrapped together and tied with colorful raffia. It’s a simple, elegant hostess gift for anyone hosting a Passover seder. BUY NOW – SPECIAL PRICE! $62.50

Share Ideas for a Simpler Seder

What are some things you do to prepare for Passover that others could learn from? Please do share your ideas here, so we can all learn some ways to make a seder without feeling like we’re “enslaved in the kitchen.”

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On Purim, “Anything Goes”

When Purim Gets, well, …. Rowdy!

I love how Purim is the one holiday where it’s permitted to be downright rowdy in synagogue. So much merriment is allowed, it’s just plain awesome. In fact, the Talmud actually says (according to the JewishEncyclopedia.com) that “one should drink on Purim until he can no longer distinguish ‘Cursed be Haman’ from ‘Blessed be Mordecai’”. Now that’s a holiday!

Even rabbis can get a little meshuga on Purim. One of my friend’s rabbis develops an elaborate Purim skit complete with crazy costumes every Purim. It packs the synagogue! Last year, he dressed in drag and he and the congregation’s cantor did a skit entitled “The Real Housewives of Shushan,” the city where the Purim festival is held in the Book of Esther! That’s the cantor on the left (feasting on hamentashen), and check out the rabbi in the red dress!

Send Some Merriment in time for Purim

Purim gifts for kids

Help them imbibe ’till they can’t distinguish Haman from Mordechai! Or send your favorite little one a crafty Purim Party. Our website has great ideas and packages to choose from, including hamentashen, award winning rugelach and our finest babka.  Maybe you’re making hamantashen at home this year? Check out our delicious hamantashen recipe. What will you do this Purim to let your hair down and get a little meshuga??
Purim gifts wine baskets

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“Where’s the Hamantashen, Bro?”

My son Sam’s college buddy actually posted this question on his Facebook page last year. I guess it’s an official tradition that not only will Purim gift baskets for kids in college mean gifts for MY college students, but also for their friends of any religion!

Purim gift college care packageNow that Sam has graduated, I’m thinking his old college buddies will seriously be wondering “Where’s the Hamantashen, Bro?”! I love thinking about the fact that wherever they’ve all flown off to, his college friends will now know just a little bit more about this fun Jewish holiday – even if they don’t “celebrate” it themselves. Now they know the delicious Jewish treats of Purim:hamentashen, challah, babka and black and white cookies in particular!

I can’t believe Sam’s undergrad years are already behind him. I do have to admit that I miss packing up the  Purim Baskets for not just my son, but with his fraternity brothers, classmates and friends in mind as well. The posts and tweets they’d send after chowing down on a mountain of hamantashen always made me smile and often chuckle.

Purim Gift College Students Shalach ManotIt really is true that time flies, so don’t delay getting your shalach manot in the mail to your college students and, of course, their hungry friends as well! Before you know it, they’ll be graduating and bringing those great Jewish traditions with them out into the world!

You can put together your own Purim Gift or choose one of my personal favorites shown here. Happy Purim!

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Celebrate Tu B’Shvat

Celebrating Trees on Tu B’Shvat

Tu B’Shvat is celebrated by planting trees and eating fruits and nuts. It’s a bit too chilly here in the US to plant trees right now, but we can surely celebrate with some delicious kosher gift baskets of fruits and other delicious treats!

Marking “The New Year for Trees”

Why a new year? Because the Torah says fruit from Israeli trees can’t be eaten during the first three years of the tree’s life. The fourth year of fruit is set aside for G-d, and then in the fifth year the tree’s fruit can be harvested and eaten. The fifteenth day of the month of Shvat is used as an arbitrary date to begin counting those years, even if the tree was just planted a few weeks before that date.

Fruit Baskets are the Perfect Tu B’Shvat Gift

kosher gift basket Tu B'shvat fruits

Send your friends and family a special Tu B’Shvat gift basket with 4 pounds of fresh fruit in a lovely keepsake wicker basket! It includes cashews, unsalted peanuts and truffles to enjoy with that delicious fruit bounty. This gift basket shouldn’t be in transit more then 2 days. BUY $74.99

kosher gift basket nuts dried fruit Tu B'ShvatSend California’s Best Natural Treats

Here’s an elegant idea for this Jewish holiday: share our elegant wooden crate filled with 5 of California’s finest gems; dates, pears, pistachios, turkish apricots and Berry Blossom Trail Mix. We know California isn’t Israel, but this kosher gift basket is certainly in the spirit for Tu B’Shvat! BUY $44.99

gluten free fruit basket Kosher giftA Gluten Free Gift Basket Option

Looking for a gluten free gift basket? We love this kosher gift basket that’s centered around fresh fruit and also adds in some gluten free treats. Our all-natural Chocolate Rugelach that is not only gluten free, but also dairy free, nut free and soy free. An accompanying tin of Torie and Howard Organic hard candy is gluten free as well. BUY $79.99

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Hanukkah Traditions

What is Hanukkah About?

Hanukkah is about way more than giving Jewish holiday gifts and eating delicious treats like potato latkes. It’s easy to lose track of the real meaning behind the holidays when so many new holiday traditions are always being created. But let’s take a moment and remember what Hanukkah is all about: it’s a Jewish holiday celebrating the victory of the Maccabees over the Syrian-Greeks, who were trying to wipe out the practice of Judaism.

The Greeks had taken over the Jewish temple and dedicated it to the worship of Zeus and other gods for several years. The temple had even had pigs sacrificed in its midst, obviously a particularly painful slight for the Jews who had worshiped there.

In 167 B.C.E. Antiochus, the Syrian-Greek emperor, made observing Judaism a crime. It was punishable by death! He ordered the Jews to worship his Greek gods, and had his soldiers approach Jewish townspeople to get them to bow down to an idol, and then eat the flesh of a pig. As you can well imagine, this outraged the Jews, of course. One of their High Priests, Mattathias, refused to bow down. He and his five sons began attacking the soldiers, setting off a large battle.

When eventually they won this battle, the Maccabees (as they came to be called) rededicated the holy Temple in Jerusalem.  It had to be purified with ritual oil burned in the temple’s menorah. There was only enough oil to last one day as the Eternal Flame, but it miraculously burned for eight days. Thus, the 8 days of Hanukkah!

Do you know what the word “Hanukkah” actually means? This Hebrew word means “dedication,” since this Jewish holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple. One of the funny things about this holiday is its many spellings. Is it Hanukkah? Chanukkah? Or Hannukkah? Since it’s transliterated, it really doesn’t matter! But however you spell it, this is one Jewish holiday everyone loves to celebrate.  Because Hanukkah is all about the miracle of the oil, we use oil in our cooking. The delicious fried foods we make to celebrate include donuts, “sufganiyot,” and potato latkes.

So this year, follow our recipe for delicious potato latkes and while they’re crackling in the pan, take a moment to reflect on the real meaning of Hanukkah: the re-dedication of the temple, and the miracle of the survival of Judaism!

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Rosh Hashana Gifts for Little Tots

Even the smallest of tots likes to join in the celebratory atmosphere of the Jewish New Year. If you’re looking for a great gift idea that’s appropriate for your special child’s first, second or third Rosh Hashana celebration, here are some to consider.

Toddler gift for Rosh HashanaRosh Hashana Gift For kids under 2:

Our Soft Rosh Hashana Gift Set has 8 plush pieces the little guys will love. They can play with the shofar, pretend to light the candles, and dip a plus red apple into the  honey “jar.” Two challot and a kiddush cup complete the set. They’ll love it!

Rosh Hashana Puzzle for Kids over 2:

Rosh Hashana gift for children

This beautiful 30-piece jigsaw puzzle is great for kids age 2 and over. It will help them learn about Rosh Hashanah histories and traditions, and they’ll love its cheerful artwork. It’s a great way to interact with children or grandchildren while you help them learn about the Jewish New Year and its importance.

Rosh Hashana Gift for Kids Over 4:

Rosh Hashana Gift for ChildrenThey’ll love this fun set of Shofars! Get them practicing early and learning the tradition of blowing the shofar to welcome the New Year.

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