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Meditations on the New Year–5776

JaneChaibraceletI had dinner last night with someone who quoted a beautiful Irish saying:

“Humans aren’t meant to live long but are meant to live happy.”

And, I recently read an article comparing the view of work and vacation between Americans and Europeans:

For the most part, when Americans meet each other, they will typically ask what they do for a living vs Europeans who ask where they are going on their next vacation.

Both of these have left a real impression on me and with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year coming soon, they are fueling my “new year thinking.”

I have already started sorting out this past year, thinking about what I could have done better, where I could have used more love and patience and how I want to improve myself for the coming year.

For this upcoming year, 5776, happiness, joy and fun are going to be priorities for me. Who knows how long we are here so why not enjoy the things we love to do with the people we love?

So, let’s get started sorting out last year and planning for this coming year, 5776. There is a wonderful quote from the poet Mary Oliver that feels perfect right now:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I’m sure Mary would be fine with you changing life to year, if you’d like. Happy New Year, L’Shana Tova to you and your family!

Jane Moritz, Chief Maven Officer, Challah Connection

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Connecticut Magazine calls us “The Amazon of the Jewish Gift Basket world”

Have you seen this coverage in Connecticut Magazine? We love how the author thinks of Challah Connection! Click below to read the whole article. Enjoy!CT Mag Press

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“The Amazon of Jewish Food”

Connecticut Magazine recently ran an article about Challah Connection, calling in the “Amazon of Jewish Food.” Did you know that the river of our Jewish tradition gift baskets runs that wide and long? Well, it does, and we have only our customers to thank. You have asked and inspired us and for that we thank you. Please enjoy the article below or click to read it here along with the pictures.:

Connecticut Company is the Amazon.com of Jewish Food
ERIK OFGANG

September 25, 2014

Last night, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, began and as Jews across the country celebrated with family and friends, many enjoyed traditional Rosh Hashanah delicacies purchased from Challah Connection, the Amazon.com of the Jewish food- and gift-basket world.

Owned by Jane Moritz of Westport, the Norwalk-based company distributes fresh and savory Jewish foods and beverages straight to customer’s doors in Connecticut and way beyond. It’s been featured in the New York Times, the Jewish pop culture website Jewcy.com and elsewhere.

“We ship nationwide,” says Moritz, adding that the recipients of many of their gifts are found in urban pockets such as the Tri-State area, Florida, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Moritz, whose background is in baking and advertising, purchased the company about 12 years ago from a fellow Westport resident who had started it. At that point it only had one product, challah (an egg-rich traditional Jewish bread), and limited customers. Moritz felt she could use her background in marketing to help the company grow. She soon expanded the company’s product line, figuring that if people wanted challah, they’d probably want other Jewish baked goods like babke and rugelach. The concept was sound, but the results did not pay dividends at first.

For a few months, the business plodded along, then the New York Times took notice of what she was doing and the company was featured in the paper for the first time. After that, business started booming.

Today, in addition to its flagship product, challah, the company offers a variety of baked goods, kosher foods and Judaica items. This time of year many offerings are specifically popular for the High Holy Days, including the The Shana Tova (Happy New Year) Wine Duo, a package of two bottles of wine (one pomegranate wine and one passion fruit wine) made at the Morad Winery, located at the foot of Israel’s Carmel mountains.

Rosh Hashanah has a variety of foods associated with it as does the approaching holiday Yom Kippur, which begins at sundown on Friday, Oct. 3, and will end at sundown Saturday, Oct. 4. During Yom Kippur, observant Jews fast from sundown to sundown. Each end of the fast is anchored by a meal generally associated with specific dishes.

“The meal next Friday night is going to be your traditional Jewish meal, there’s going to be round challah and brisket and so on,” explains Moritz. “Because from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday you don’t eat, to break the fast typically people eat fish or dairy food, because you don’t want to shock the system with a heavy meat meal. So that’s where lox and bagels play a huge role.”

Oftentimes these “break fast” meals are casual and served buffet style. With that in mind Challah Connection offers a bagel and lox basket for the holiday that feeds 4-6 people. According to the Challah Connection website, it features:

a full half pound of Blue Hill Bay smoked salmon, six tasty and chewy (the way they should be!) toasting bagels, cream cheese, cinnamon rugelach, coffee for a full pot, red checkered napkin for wiping the shmear off the punim (wiping the cream cheese off of the face).

Moritz says many customers send gift baskets to family members who live far away, whether it’s a parent who has retired to Florida, or a child who is away at college. In addition, many of her customers are not Jewish but are purchasing holiday gift baskets for Jewish friends or coworkers.

Ultimately, Moritz believes her company’s success is due to its authenticity and undeniable connection to Jewish roots.

“What we do is very unique, maybe there’s a couple of other smaller companies that do what we do, but basically other than us there’s just the non-Jewish-oriented gift basket companies; you can go to them and buy a fruit basket, but we are all about Jewish traditions,” she says. “We are all about taking these beautiful traditions and simple food traditions and spinning them into products that people love. We touch people’s hearts. I would say, we’re reflecting their own Judaism, their own culture, their traditions, and they just love it.”

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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).

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOVE

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 (jane@challahconnection.com), 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 Gifts for College Students

With Rosh Hashana coming we are thinking of our kids at college and Rosh Hashana gifts for college students. Jewish Holidays, particularly Rosh Hashana, since it falls towards the beginning of the school year, is particularly difficult for parents. We miss our kids Apple Cakearound our holiday table! However, from my own personal experience as well as that of thousands of customers, this sadness can be diminished by sending Jewish holiday foods and Rosh Hashana gifts that your student will love.At Challah Connection, we have created kosher holiday gifts specifically with college kids in mind. When my first son Sam left for college, I missed him terribly. There was a hole at our holiday table that was tangible to us all. However I did get some solace knowing that I had sent Sam enough round challah, honey, rugelach and apples to share with his dorm friends. When he called to tell me how much the kids loved the goodies (many of whom had never had challah) I felt a sense of happiness and peace.

IMPORTANT ADVICE FOR COLLEGE GIFT GIVING

1) Shipping to a dorm? Allow 1-2 days for the gift to navigate its way from the dorm loading dock or entrance to your child’s mailbox. Be sure to tell your student to check his/her mail. Often, the kids forget to do so. These are simple steps that will ensure smooth delivery.

2) Shipping to Apartment? Ask your student when he/she or roommates will be there to receive the package. If no one will be there during the day and there is no doorman, then you may need to consider delivery to an alternate address such as a friend or job address. Fedex will only leave packages if the driver feels it’s safe to do so andwill attempt delivery 3 times before leaving a note that the recipient needs to come to the Fedex office to retrieve the package. You may want to select a gift that is not perishable in this case.

TOP THREE ROSH HASHANA GIFTS FOR COLLEGE KIDS

-Rosh Hashana Traditions Basket
-Bubbe Boxes
-New Year Festival Basket

Share the traditions of home and know that you have sent your student a delicious reminder that it’s Rosh Hashana—the time for new beginnings and promise. L’Shana Tova to you.

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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The Meaning Behind Rosh Hashana

With Rosh Hashana just five weeks away, it’s time to start preparing for the new year. When buying Jewish New Year gifts for friends and family, have you ever stopped to think about why we enjoy some of these Rosh Hashana staples, such as round challah, apples and honey? Has it ever even crossed your mind that we celebrate the Jewish New Year on the first day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, as opposed to the first month?

In many of our Jewish New Year baskets you will find that a round challah is included instead of the traditional shaped challah. Round challahs are prevalent in order to symbolize the circle of life and the cycle of a new year. Moreover, the challah also somewhat resembles a crown, as we refer to God as royalty several times throughout the holiday. We then take this challah along with apples, and dip them into honey as a symbol for our wish for a sweet new year. We offer a fabulous honey selection, which will make a great affordable gift for any of your loved ones! However, if you’re looking for a more complete new year gift try the Apples, Honey & Challah Care Package, which includes all of your Rosh Hashana favorites!

Another interesting fact is that Rosh Hashana begins on the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. This may seem odd, but is comparable to the fact that the new school year starts in September, or that many companies have their fiscal year start at different times of the year. The 7th month according to the Hebrew, God’s calendar is the beginning of the civil year, which means that it’s the beginning of the agricultural year when plants, trees and things like gold, precious stones etc, that God put in the ground of the earth starts to become fruitful towards man. A fun basket that keeps this theme in mind is the “Sweet New Year” Rosh Hashana Gift Basket, which includes the new year traditions, along with some fruity favorites such as apple cake, apple cinnamon fruit spread and assorted dried fruit!

Now it’s your turn; Send honey to a loved one, but include a note for why it’s so significant at this time of the year. Don’t hesitate to surprise your college student with Traditions In A Box, a personal favorite of our undergrads! All in all, just use this holiday as an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months, and decide what you are going to change in order to make this coming year even more successful than the last!

 

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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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Sweeten My Year–Our All New Rosh Hashana Contest

For the Week of July 26, Enter to Win a Free Babka!

Share your favorite Rosh Hashanah traditions! Think about any ritual that you have enjoyed more than just once that is special for Rosh Hashanah — a favorite family activity, a special place you love to visit, a favorite holiday dish–or any that is meaningful to you! Post your entry on this blog or on Facebook (feel free to include photos!)

One lucky winner will enjoy this delectable 1.5-lb loaf of the densest, most chocolately chocolate babka.

All submissions are due Friday, August 6 and the winner will be announced on August 9. Click for more contest details.

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