Archive for Jewish Traditions

Kosher Gift Baskets –Baskets of Jewish Tradition For All Your Friends & Family

JoinouremaillistKosher Bakery Classics Care Package Challah Connection has been shipping kosher gift baskets since 2002. In that time, we have learned what people want in a kosher gift basket. Simply put, they want delicious, edible tradition. Jewish baked goods such as challah, babka, rugelach, rainbow cookies and black and whites are the core of our most popular kosher baskets. Whether for Jewish holidays, birthday, shiva, college care package or other occasions, kosher bakery favorites resonate deeply with recipients. We have found that whether or not the recipient keeps kosher, most Jewish people—and non-Jews as well–love these kosher bakery favorites. Other Jewish favorites such as lox and bagels and kosher deli are also treasured.

Many of the bakery favorites were brought to America by immigrants from Eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th century and have tremendous nostalgia value for many Jews. They have become traditional favorites by many who “grew up” with them and now want to share them with their own children. Here are some quotes from our customers when they were asked to share thoughts and feelings about babka (the loaf shaped coffee cake-like dessert shown above, that is one of our best sellers):

NYC Brunch Basket, Lox and Bagel Basket-“Babka represents family and holidays”
-“Kosher baked goods are so important”
-“My grandmother, from Germany, would make the best babka, and every time I eat it I think of her”
“I remember my grandma rolling out the dough on the kitchen table, and the smells that went thru the house”
-“Babka=Jewish. It symbolizes Bubbee and is a good Jewish staple that most people love.

Through these quotes you can see the deep connection people have with Jewish foods—foods with rich traditions that are included in our kosher gift baskets. A kosher gift basket will bring your Jewish friend or family member a deeper connection to your gift and therefore greater appreciation for your generosity.

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Babka is the Darling of the Kosher Bakery

If there is a darling of the kosher bakery, it is the beloved babka. Babka-a cross between a yeasted bread and coffee cake is typically baked in a loaf shape and with chocolate or cinnamon flavor “veining” throughout. It is rich and delicious with coffee, tea or a glass of milk for afternoon snack, dessert or breakfast.

is a dessert full of soul and history. We can trace babka’s roots to Eastern Europe where the balaboostas (cooks) baked their family recipe for Shabbat and Jewish Holidays. Now, in the 2000’s, you will find babka in kosher bakeries and Jewish stores throughout Europe, Israel Babka, Chocolate Babka, Challah Connectionand the US. It is written about, talked about on TV and radio and is loved by both Jews and non-Jews alike.

At Challah Connection, babka is our customers’ favorite baked good (although rugelach, challah and black and whites are close seconds) and is a key ingredient in our most popular kosher gift baskets. Curious to understand what makes the babka so adored, we sent our customers a brief survey and found some interesting information:

Chocolate babka is without doubt, more popular than cinnamon babka. 64% of recipients prefer chocolate babka vs 36% who prefer cinnamon (remember Elaine on Seinfeld calling cinnamon the “lesser babka?)

When asked what they specifically love about babka, 69% of respondents cited the flavor while 33% stated texture and for another 31%, it’s a reminder of European ancestors.

When we asked our customers to share any additional thoughts, memories, cherished recipes or ideas about babka, we got some truly touching responses:

-A lesser babka, I don’t think so : )

-Babka represents family and holidays

-Brings back the “Old Country

-Great college finals pick me up and reminder that no matter the outcome, we love you

-It’s always a crowd pleaser…even if someone didn’t grow up on Babka, it becomes a favorite

-Just like I used to have when my Mother bought it in the 50s and 60s YUM

-Kosher baked goods are so important

-My grandmother, from Germany, would make the best babka, and every time I eat it I think of her
Kosher Bakery Classics Care Package

-babka is synonymous with shabbes cake and takes me back to summer camp days

-just the yummiest thing ever!

-the more butter and chocolate the better! (note there is no butter in Challah Connection babka; it’s pareve/non dairy)

-There is nothing better than my family standing around the kitchen and slowly eating the babka up while standing! No plates, no seats, no forks needed!

-Babka, like kugel, is quintessentially Eastern European Jewish

-Babka, for me, is a fusion of Jewish and Eastern European (former Soviet Union in my case). If made right it is not too sweet but just right with tea. And of course who can forget the babka that was so prominently featured on an episode of Seinfeld???

-I remember my grandma rolling out the dough on the kitchen table, and the smells that went thru the house

-Babka=Jewish. It symbolizes Bubbee and is a good Jewish staple that most people love. The cinnamon is also good but I find most people really like the chocolate ones.

We find these quotes heartwarming and beautiful. Imagine that a simple baked good carries so much meaning and joy for so many people. We thank our customers for sharing their thoughts and also want to share that our non-Jewish friends also love babka and send it to their loved ones for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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Tu B’Shevat, Purim and Passover–Reminders of What’s Important

Winter and early Spring bring lovely Jewish holidays that are perfect opportunities to remind us of important lessons: appreciation of NATURE and FREEDOM. These holidays are also wonderful occasions to send kosher holiday gift baskets to friends and family.

Tu B'Shevat Fruit Basket, Challah ConnectionKnown as Jewish Arbor Day or New Year for the trees,  Tu B’Shevat is a day to honor trees, nature and the earth. On Tu B’Shevat—celebrated on the 15th day of the Hebrew month Shevat—we celebrate nature and specifically trees and their bounty. On this day we put environmentalism on the front burner as we appreciate the beauty that trees bring to our lives and their fruits. On Tu B’Shevat, it is tradition to eat foods grown on trees or in the earth. Naturally, fruit and nuts make wonderful kosher gifts and Challah Connection offers many fresh fruit baskets to choose from. Carob as well as foods considered Israel’s 7 species, grapes, olives, dates, figs and pomegranates, are also popular. Tu B’Shevat is on February 4, 2015.

Purim is a celebration of freedom, strength of women and the ability to stand up to adversity. Purim tells the story of the wicked Haman who plotted to kill Jews and the beautiful Jewish Queen Esther

Pure Essentials, Challah Connection

who schemed and ultimately saved the Jews. We are instructed to read the Megilla (Purim story) every year at Purim to remind us of the important Purim events and lessons. To help bring it to life for young children to adults, we eat hamentashen—the triangle cookie—that represents Haman’s triangle shaped hat . It is considered a mitzvah to share food gifts, shalach manot, with friends, family and the poor. Our Purim Gift Basket department is full of many Purim gift choices and Shalach Manot. Purim is on March 4.

Following Purim by just a month is Passover, which puts the lesson of slavery vs freedom on the largest scale of the year. Passover, which is 8 days and begins on April 3 with the first seder, tells the story of the Jews’ life as slaves in Egypt followed by their exodus out of the desert to freedom. The Passover Cookie Platter, Challah Connectionseder is filled with symbolism from the way we sit to the foods we eat. The purpose of the seder is to “never forget” and to hold our freedom dear to us. The best known Passover food tradition is matzo, which reminds us of the unleavened bread that our forefathers and mothers ate because they did not have time to wait for their bread to rise. Passover gifts abound as Passover is a wonderful, springtime holiday that is truly a time to share. Visit our Passover Gift Basket department for the finest Passover gift giving. Passover begins on April 3.

If you need help making your selections, we are always here to help:

TOLL FREE: 866-242-5524
CHAT: On our website

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Shabbas Project and Challah Baking Pictures

This past weekend was the worldwide event, Shabbos Project. People all over the world celebrated Shabbat as one gigantic Jewish community. One of my favorite Shabbos Project activities was the Challah Bake I attended, along with my husband Josh and sister, Steph, at the Chabad of Stamford, CT. Both Josh and Steph were first time challah bakers.

I love group activities and baking challah as a group is such a warm and delightful pleasure. Our large group (50-75? people) was led by the Leah Shemtov who was so enthusastic, helpful and patient. I was so pleased how our challah turned out and even more happy that my husband really enjoyed the event and proud of his challah! My sister Steph, was equally encouraged and says that she looks forward to more challah baking. Great to have more family challah bakers! If they can bake challah, so can you. Here is a my favorite recipe. Enjoy the photos!

challah connection challah baking

Leah and the tables all set for the challah bakers


Jane Moritz of Challah Connection and Leah Shemtov of Chabad baking challah for Shabbos Project, 2014

Jane Moritz of Challah Connection and Leah Shemtov of Chabad baking challah for Shabbos Project, 2014


Josh Moritz braiding his challah dough. Why don't more men bake challah?

Josh Moritz braiding his challah dough. Why don’t more men bake challah?


Jane’s sister, Steph Mark, showing off her skills

Jane’s sister, Steph Mark, showing off her skills


Jane Moritz, Josh Moritz, Challah

Jane and Josh’s challahs–they were delicious!

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Please Don’t Send Flowers for a Jewish Death or Shiva

I was saddened to hear of the passing of a friend’s mother. My friend is Jewish and since my company Challah Connection is a leader in Jewish gift giving, I am highly attuned to the specifics included in obituaries and emails regarding death and shiva. So, I was reminded again, that so many Jewish people are not aware of shiva traditions. Let me please remind you–Jewish and non-Jewish friends of perhaps the most important Jewish shiva tradition.

The leading tradition is that it is not appropriate to send or give flowers for a Jewish death.

I made the mistake myself when I was trying to “do the right thing” in my mid-twenties. Who knows about such things at that age? I still feel embarrassed that I sent flowers to a religious relative who lost his mother.

Why don’t we give flowers for shiva or a Jewish death? In Judaism, we grieve for 7 days with the company of family and friends (shiva means 7 in Hebrew). There are specific traditions regarding appropriate dress, behavior and more during shiva, which you can read here. However, during shiva, we are meant to truly grieve and not to be distracted by pleasure or beauty that is found in objects such as flowers. But don’t despair, if you want to send a gift, a shiva gift is completely appropriate and appreciated. Shiva gifts are Sympathy Comfort Basket, Challah Connectionkosher gift baskets filled with baked goods such as babka, rugelach, cookies and other treats such as nuts, fruit and candy. The purpose of a shiva gift is to provide food and nourishment for the grievers as well as to provide food for the guests so that the family doesn’t need to worry about providing food.

There is a lot more I can teach you about shiva and am happy to help if you have any questions. Please email me at You can also find other helpful information here, on our SHIVA FAQ page. My hope for today is that you won’t send any more flowers for shiva but rather, a shiva basket. Of course, the very best place to order your shiva gift is Challah Connection. Without bias, we have the largest array of shiva gifts available and have a deep knowledge of this important Jewish tradition.

Written by Jane Moritz (, Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

Challah Connection is the premiere online kosher gift company specializing in Jewish traditional gifts for Jewish Holiday, Shiva, Jewish Birthday and all Jewish gift giving occasions . “Creating Kvells Since 2002”

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Did You Know: Thanksgiving is a Jewish Holiday?

challah collection, challah connection

There is one common theme that runs through every Jewish holiday and that is family (mishpacha) gathering together to share home cooked holiday foods. By that definition, Thanksgiving is hands down a Jewish holiday. We exchange brisket, roasted chicken and potato kugel for turkey, stuffing (best made with challah—see recipe) and mashed potatoes (or
sweet potato latkes!). Thanksgiving also has a key aspect in common with Passover—the need to recline after the “festive meal.” One might actually say that the Thanksgiving meal and a Passover Seder or Rosh Hashana meal have a lot in common: holiday food, Jewish ritual, family and lots of kosher desserts.

However, unique to Thanksgiving is that the holiday weekend lasts 4-5 days. What to serve your weekend guests? For the weekend mornings, there is nothing better than challah Thanksgiving Orange and Black Cookies, Challah ConnectionFrench toast or bagels and lox for your houseguests. Or, if you are going to friends or family for Thanksgiving, don’t forget to bring a hostess gift such as our pomegranate trivet from Israel or a kosher gift basket filled with challah, babka, rugelach and Thanksgiving orange and white cookies!

Thanksgiving is November 27 and if you are sending our kosher gifts and challah to friends and family far away, don’t forget to place your order soon!

Written by Jane Moritz (, Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

Challah Connection is the premiere online kosher gift company specializing in Jewish traditional gifts for Jewish Holiday, Shiva, Jewish Birthday and all Jewish gift giving occasions . “Creating Kvells Since 2002”

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Hanukkah 2014 Facts and Traditions

When is Chanukah? Hanukkah starts at sunset on December 16 and lasts until December 24. First candle is lit on December 16 and the last candle on December 23. (See below about candelighting.)

What is Hanukkah? Also called the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication by the Jewish Maccabees of the holy Temple in Jerusalem that was destroyed by the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E. During the rededication, they lit the menorah with the oil that was left. When the oil lasted for 8 nights rather than the one that was presumed, it was considered a miracle and is why we now call Hanukkah the Festival of Lights.
Hanukkah Pure Essentials, Challah Connection
How is Hanukkah celebrated? Hanukkah is not a religious holiday and is considered to be a rather minor one in religious spheres. However, in America, where the bulk of the world’s Jews live, Chanukah has become a significant event with celebratory traditions and gift giving.

Hanukkah Traditions:

Eating Fried Foods: Like all other Jewish holidays, there are important food traditions and for Hanukkah the tradition is to eat foods fried in oil. Potato latkes are the most popular Hanukkah food while donuts (usually jelly), called Sufganiyot in Hebrew, are also popular.

Holiday Potato Latkes, Challah Connection

Lighting the Menorah: The menorah is a 9-branched candelabra. There is a branch and holder for each of the eight candles and one for the Shamash—the candle used to light the others. The menorah is also called a Hanukiyah.

Colorful Aluminum Menorah, Challah Connection

Playing Dreidel at Hanukkah Parties: The dreidel is a 4-sided top with Hebrew letters on each side. There is a special dreidel game that is played and the winners eat Hanukkah gelt—foil wrapped chocolate coins. Dreidel is played at Hanukkah parties or at the nightly Menorah-lighting.

Sharing Gifts: Hanukkah is the largest Jewish gift giving holiday of the year. Typically, families have their own traditions of sharing Hanukkah gifts typically either every night for eight nights or just one.

In America, corporate gift giving at holiday time is standard practice. Giving gift baskets and other food gifts to colleagues and clients for
Jeweled Dreidel, Challah Connection
Christmas or December holidays is well accepted as is gift giving to Jewish colleagues and clients. For Jewish clients, kosher gift baskets are recommended to ensure that everyone in the office can enjoy it. Challah Connection has an impressive assortment of kosher Hanukkah baskets and Hanukkah food specialties that are appropriate for family, friends and business colleagues.

How to spell Hanukkah? There are several acceptable spellings: Hanukkah, Hanukah, Chanukah, Chanuka

Happy Hanukkah!!



Written by Jane Moritz (, Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

Challah Connection is the premiere online kosher gift company specializing in Jewish traditional gifts for Jewish Holiday, Shiva, Jewish Birthday and all Jewish gift giving occasions . “Creating Kvells Since 2002”

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It’s Jewish Birthday Time!

A Jewish friend or family member is celebrating a birthday, a Jewish birthday. What to give them? Judaism is chock-full of beautiful and delicious traditions that translate into truly meaningful Jewish birthday gifts. In addition to the religious aspects of Judaism, there are many cultural traditions that are reflected in Jewish food, Jewish books, Jewish music, Jewish art, Jewish jewelry and more. These make cherished gifts for a Jewish person celebrating a birthday—a Jewish birthday!

At Challah Connection, we have many customers who shop with us for Jewish birthday gifts. Some Jewish birthday gifts are for “big” birthdays; 40, 50, 60, 70 80, 90 or even 100! But some are for “regular” birthdays. Regardless, a Jewish birthday gift is always one that is full of meaning.

Kosher Bakery Classics Care Package

Kosher Bakery Classics Care Package

Generally speaking, our Jewish food gifts are our most popular Jewish birthday gifts and are often combined with a book, Jewish art piece or other. For example, a great gift is our Kosher Bakery Classics Care Package—challah, babka, rugelach and black and whites– and the book Great Jewish Men or Great Jewish Women. Kosher deli baskets such as a basket filled with lox and bagels or kosher salami are also very popular. Bagels of course being associated as “Jewish” (although who DOESN’T love a good bagel?”) Jewish books such as “Great Jewish Men” or “Great Jewish Women,” “How to Raise a Jewish Dog” also make terrific gifts. These books are particularly appreciated for those with a strong sense of Jewish pride. Jewish Jewelry is also a popular gift, including necklaces and bracelets adorned with Jewish symbols such as Star of David, hamsa, menorah and more. Jewish art such as beautiful “Shalom” wall hanging or wall hamsa (protective hand said to ward off evil) make meaningful gifts for one’s home or office. The game of Mah Jongg is very popular among women and we have some terrific Maj Jongg gifts that are very popular.

Kosher Deli Deluxe Basket

Kosher Deli Deluxe Basket

When you give a Jewish friend or family member a Jewish birthday gift you are honoring their heritage and showing your support of who they are. Whether for a “big” birthday or not, a Jewish birthday gift is always appreciated.

Written by Jane Moritz, Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

Challah Connection is the premiere online kosher gift company specializing in Jewish traditional gifts for Jewish Holiday, Shiva, Jewish Birthday and all Jewish gift giving occasions . “Creating Kvells Since 2002”




Written by Jane Moritz (, Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

Challah Connection is the premiere online kosher gift company specializing in Jewish traditional gifts for Jewish Holiday, Shiva, Jewish Birthday and all Jewish gift giving occasions . “Creating Kvells Since 2002”

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Rosh Hashana Gift Giving Advice

updated September 6, 2016

With Rosh Hashana less than a month away (starting at sundown on 10/2), many thoughtful people are contacting us looking for Rosh Hashana gift giving advice. Some of the questions we have heard are:

-What should I give my Jewish boss or coworker for Rosh Hashana?

-I’m not Jewish but my best friend is—what should I give?

-What do you recommend for my college student?

-Is it appropriate to give a Rosh Hashana gift to clients and customers?

-We are going to our neighbors’ for break fast, what should I bring?

-What are the best Rosh Hashana gifts for young kids?

-What should my Rosh Hashana gift message say?

These questions make us so happy. Why? We find it genuinely touching that people take such care and thought into giving the right gift for a Jewish holiday. So let us be as generous with our advice. Here are some general Rosh Hashana gift giving recommendations:

Let’s face it, Rosh Hashana—like all Jewish holidays—is a foodie’s delight. With the focus on sweetness and apples and honey, there are plenty of choices. My top 3 favorite kosher Rosh Hashana gift baskets are Trio of Sweetness, Rosh Hashana Traditions Basket and New Year Festival Basket. All of these kosher gift baskets honor the apples and honey tradition that is key to ensuring a sweet New Year. Click here for our complete Rosh Hashana department to see our complete holiday department.

How much do you want to spend? Our Rosh Hashana gifts and kosher gift baskets run the price gamut—from our Holiday Challah Set ($44.99) to our Sweetest Holiday Basket. ($299.99) Or you can send a simple jar of honey and some apples for $20. (Don’t forget the shipping cost!).

If you are a baker, as I am, I would bake an apple cake (terrific recipe here) or some round challah (my favorite challah recipe here).


-What should I give my Jewish boss or coworker for Rosh Hashana?

It is best to select a Rosh Hashana gift basket that reflects Jewish tradition such as our 5777 Breakfast Basket, Fruit and Friends Crate or for a different idea our Sweet Indie Snack Box. All 3 are impressive and will show your thoughtfulness.

I’m not Jewish but my friend is—what should I give?

For a friend, perhaps you are looking to acknowledge the holiday without breaking the bank. A tin of rugelach or round challah and honey are great, low cost choices.

What do you recommend for my college student?

Our experience working with parents of college students indicates that parents have 2 specific goals when sending Jewish holiday gifts to their kids: 1) Remind the child that the holiday is here and 2) Send a taste of home and love. Please be sure to read our advice about shipping to college dorms or apartments.

Tupelo Honey Flute for Rosh Hashana

Tupelo Honey Flute for Rosh Hashanacollege dorms or apartments.

Is it appropriate to give a Rosh Hashana gift to clients and customers?

Not only is giving a Rosh Hashana gift basket or kosher gift basket to a client or customer appropriate, but it makes great business sense. The point of gifting a client is to thank them for the business and solidify the relationship. What better way to do this than to acknowledge their own holiday therefore honoring them and who they are? We have many many corporate customers—most of whom are not Jewish—who send gifts for all of the Jewish holidays to their clients. This is a terrific business practice that will pay dividends toward your future relationship. One of our most popular corporate kosher baskets for Rosh Hashana is our Celebration Wine Basket.

We are going to our neighbors’ for Yom Kippur break fast, what should I bring?

Break fast is typically a dairy meal. After fasting for 24 hours, we try to avoid the “shock” to our bodies that meat can bring. The typical menu for Break fast is lox and bagels, sweet kugel (noodle pudding), assorted cheeses, blintzes and fresh fruit. For dessert, rugelach, apple cake, babka and cookies are great choices. A dessert such as apple cake or Rosh Hashana Dessert Trio are excellent choices that your host and hostess will very pleased with.

What are the best Rosh Hashana gifts for young kids?

When it comes to kids and Jewish holidays, INVOLVMENT is key. Like all of us, kids learn best when engaged. For Rosh Hashana, consider our Kid’s Fun Kit, a fun puzzle or a book All About Rosh Hashana. Of course, some added sweetness like apples and honey is a great addition.

What should my Rosh Hashana gift message say?

When sending a gift, including a gift message is key! A great gift message is “Shana Tova! Wishing you a sweet, happy and healthy New Year. With love, Your Name.” If your gift is to a client or customer, a great way to sign the card is “Your friends from ABC company.”

I hope that this Rosh Hashana gift giving advice is helpful to you. Feel free to contact us with any questions or suggestions. Shana Tova to you and your family.


Written by Jane Moritz (, Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

Challah Connection is the premiere online kosher gift company specializing in Jewish traditional gifts for Jewish Holiday, Shiva, Jewish Birthday and all Jewish gift giving occasions . “Creating Kvells Since 2002”

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The Traditional Jewish Holiday Meal

With Rosh Hashana coming soon, there’s lots of talk of the traditional Jewish holiday meal but what is it and how did it become the meal most served at Jewish holidays?

The typical components of the traditional Jewish meal include gefilte fish, chicken soup with matzo balls (also called Kneidlach), brisket, roasted chicken, a potato dish such as kugel or latkes and tzimmes. Like many “Jewish” foods, the Jewish meal components are Ashkenazi as they originated in Eastern Europe. Before World War II, countries such as Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria and Poland had sizable Jewish communities where Jewish life including food traditions thrived. So many of our favorite foods have their roots in these countries including babka, rugelach, kichel (bowties) and of course the meal including brisket.

Why brisket? Brisket has some key features that have propelled it to become the “Jewish meat staple.” First, it’s relatively cheap vs other cuts such as steak. Second, brisket is typically sold in comparatively large amounts (usually at least a 3 lb cut), which is generally too much meat for a typical dinner or Shabbat but plenty for a holiday. So when serving many people for Rosh Hashana or Passover seder, brisket is a relatively inexpensive meat option. Third, it’s hard to ruin or overcook brisket. Letting it simmer for hours only makes it better.

Note that none of the Jewish meal components have any dairy ingredients. This is another reason that these foods have become traditional Jewish holiday foods. One of the primary kosher rules is that meat and milk should never be mixed. Butter or milk is not necessary in the preparation of any of these dishes. Instead of butter or fat, often schmaltz (chicken fat) is used or oil (canola, vegetable or olive). It is this reason that Jewish dairy foods such as blintzes, and lox and bagels with cream cheese tend to “go” together as a lighter meal, often for brunch.

Finally, tradition and heritage play a huge role in the evolution of these foods as the traditional Jewish meal components. Most American Jews have roots in Europe and there is no better way to connect to previous generations then through food. You have heard about “Bubbe’s” recipe for this or that. While there may be an actual bubbe (grandmother) in the family, “bubbe” is often intended as the universal Jewish grandma that knows how to cook to perfection and is an all around Balaboosteh or a maven at everything in the house-from cooking to cleaning to entertaining.

Let’s honor tradition and good taste as we enjoy a traditional Jewish meal. Click here for some useful Jewish recipes. Or, if you prefer not to cook, you can order a terrific glatt kosher meal at Challah Connection.

Written by Jane Moritz, Chief Maven Officer Challah Connection

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