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The Popularity of Jewish Food: Taste, Nostalgia, Tradition

Here on the East Coast, it’s not hard to come across a media story about the popularity of “Jewish food.” Recently, much of this coverage has been about the food entrepreneurs—mostly in Brooklyn—who are “reinventing” recipes. Since my company Challah Connection is all about Jewish food traditions and kosher gifts, I find this new coverage really exciting. Not only does it validate our mission, but it makes me proud of our younger generation who are embracing traditions which will help to make our Jewish heritage live on and on and on.

Having spent time in places like Warsaw, Budapest, Prague and Israel and therefore being familiar with the source of great rugelach, babka, knaidelach and more, it’s almost like coming full circle seeing these foods being reinvented right here in New York City. Jeffrey Yoskowitz, an owner of Gefilteria, a boutique purveyer of old world Jewish food, said in a recent New York Times article: “It turns out that our ancestors knew what they were doing.” and “The recipes and techniques are almost gone, and we have to capture the knowledge before it’s lost.”

Traditional Jewish Meal from Challah Connection

Traditional Jewish Meal, what makes this some alluring? Taste, Tradition and Nostalgia

Thanks to these new food entrepreneurs, the new versions of these foods will be more appropriate to the way we eat now. For example, my husband talks about the gribenus (fried chicken skin) his grandmother cooked on the Lower East Side. No chance that we would eat that now. But on the other hand, Gefilteria’s gefilte fish, which we sell at Challah Connection, has nothing bad! Ok, a little bit of sugar—but other than that, all of the ingredients are simple, clean and gluten free. It’s downright exciting that Melissa Weller and Black Seed Bagels are bringing bagels back the way they used to be and should be. Bagels should not be a puffy mound of dough enough for 3 people!

But thinking broader then just food is the idea that these younger people are embracing and redefining being Jewish. In addition to new takes on favorite Jewish foods, concepts like Moishe House and Pop-up Shabbat are bringing a new, easy going and inclusive way to be Jewish. You just need to love the food and the warm, homey feeling to go to these events. At these venues, everyone is invited and accepted. Hopefully, you’ll sing and dance-and EAT– and come back next time. Of course, not everyone agrees that this new Jewish openness is “kosher” but of course, that is another discussion topic for another day.

There is no doubt in my mind that “Jewish food” creates a strong connection to being Jewish and it does for 3 important reasons: Taste, Tradition and Nostalgia.

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Our Jewish Bakery Favorites are the Hit of the Holiday Weekend

It’s Memorial Day–almost. When it comes to desserts for weekend guests and barbeques, I think of ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, brownies and so on. So, I am happily surprised to see that Jewish Bakery favorites–our Classics Care Package–which includes challah, babka, rugelach and black and white cookies are flying out of our doors! When I think about it, I get it: these are are yummy, homey, nostalgic foods that people LOVE. These are foods with soul! Not to mention that our challah makes the BEST french toast–perfect for breakfast for the visiting friends and family.

Jewish bakery favorites, kosher bakery

Classics Care Package from Challah Connection

Happy Summer! If you are looking for some the finest from the kosher bakery you know where to find it–at Challah Connection, of course.

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Passover Recipes To Make Your Meal

I am so proud of my fellow kosher foodies! They have recently written a terrific new Passover cookbook–4 Bloggers Dish: Passover, Modern Twists on Traditional Flavors.

4 Bloggers Dish: Passover, Modern Twists on Traditional Flavors contains over 50 new recipes from four award winning food writers who have gotten to know each other  through their blogs: Whitney Fisch of Jewhungry, Liz Rueven of Kosher Like Me, Sarah Lasry of The Patchke Princess, and Amy Kritzer of What Jew Wanna Eat.
In addition to mouth-watering modern recipes such as Balsamic Braised Short Ribs, Matzah Brie Caprese, Spaghetti Squash with Quinoa Meatballs, Sautéed Kale, Tomato, and Mushroom Quiche with a Hash Brown Crust, and Cinnamon Donut Balls, this e-cookbook also includes step-by-step instructions and beautiful visuals as well as helpful tips such as Freezer Instructions, Prep Ahead Rules, and a To-Go Guide.

4 Bloggers Dish, Passover: Modern Twists on Traditional Flavors, is now available online via Amazon and compatible for Kindle, the iPad and the Nook.

Click here to purchase: http://amzn.to/1iSZr7h

 

 

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Alcohol and Purim–How Much is Enough?

We recently sent an email out to our customers reminding them of the 3 mitzvot we are to do for Purim. Know what they are?

1) Read the megillah, from start to finish

2) Get drunk

3) Send gifts of food and wine

Rightfully so, one of our customers quickly responded letting us know that encouraging readers to “Get drunk” without any sort of explanation was not responsible on our part. We quickly made sure to qualify this with the inclusion of “with safety and moderation.”

Our friends at My Jewish Learning have posted a great article that examines the source of Purim drinking and just how much is enough. It’s an interesting read, check it out.

Happy Purim and bottom’s up–within reason!

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7 Species Recipe Contest

I just returned from another amazing trip to Israel where I was one of 3 leaders shepherding 14 Jewish moms helping them learn and grow their Judaism and spirituality. Naturally, given the foody person that I am, one of my favorite places in Jerusalem is Mahane Yehuda—the main food market where spirituality and life lessons (patience, self control among the top) abound, especially on Friday afternoon before Shabbat. Let’s just say: OY—very hot and crowded. But, during my visits there I was reminded of the truly biblical foods, the Seven Species:

  • Olives
  • Grapes
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Figs
  • Dates
  • Pomegranates

Photo By Erika Yarmoff

Photo By Erika Yarmoff

These are the foods that accentuate a sense of continuity between the biblical Land of Israel and the modern state. They were very significant during ancient times, as the fruits were discovered and embraced the very moment the Israelite’s entered the land after their bondage in Egypt.

 

 

With Rosh Hashana just 7 weeks away I wanted to get you thinking about something yummy to prepare for the holiday! With that in mind, I challenge you to come up with a recipe that includes as ingredients at least 3 of the 7 species listed above. Whether the recipe is for an appetizer, main course, or dessert, everything qualifies as long as the recipe includes at least 3 of the 7 species. The individual with the most creative and tasty submission will receive a 7 species tote bag! Additionally, one runner-up will receive a 7 species pot-holder.

Entering To Win The Tote Bag Is Easy!
  1. Formulate a recipe for an appetizer, main course, side dish or dessert that includes at least 3 of the 7 species
  2. Include instructions for how to prepare the meal
  3. Post your recipe & instructions as a comment below
  4. Submissions must be made by August 16th. The winners will be announced shortly after.
  5. We will email you if you are a winner or runner up.

Best of Luck!

Jane Moritz
Owner

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Introducing Lox, Bagels & Deli Baskets!

If you haven’t been keeping up with your calendar lately, Fathers Day is just around the corner! Surprise dad with one of these delicious deli-style gift baskets!

New York City is home to one of the most famous and authentic Jewish brunch foods – lox and bagels. However, we understand that not everyone can easily make a trip into the city to enjoy this delicious meal. That is why at Challah Connection we are introducing the NYC Brunch Basket. Packed into a lovely woven basket, the lucky fressers (eaters) will receive a half pound of smoked salmon, 6 tasty and chewy toasting bagels, cream cheese, and much more! Purchase this today for $109.99, and you don’t even have to deal with all of that Manhattan traffic! Click Here to learn more!

 

 

Remember back when mom and pop would take you to the Jewish deli around the corner, and all of the distinct aromas that you can still make out from miles away? Well here at Challah Connection we have created a similar experience that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home! With this Kosher Deli Deluxe Basket comes 6 tasty and chewy toasting bagels, a quarter pound of smoked salmon, 2 full pounds of our favorite kosher salami from Hebrew National, as well as Eli’s European Rye Bread. Purchase today for $249.99, and Click Here for complete details on this special offer!

 

 

Looking for a simpler version of the Jewish deli experience? Well we have just the right Jewish Deli Gift Crate, which is perfect for any occasion! Securely packed in a wooden crate are a 2 lb. Hebrew National salami, Eli’s European Rye Bread, real deli mustard, 2 cans of Dr. Browns Cream Soda, and much more! Purchase today for $119.99, and Click Here for complete details.

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Jewish Mother’s Day Gifts With Meaning

"An accomplished woman, who can find?
Her value is far beyond pearls."

-excerpt from A Woman of Valor

Here at Challah Connection, we think that Mother's Day gifts should carry meaning. Here are our top 3 choices. Each one will bring meaning to the day and honor your "mom" as the Woman of Valor that she is. Or, if you prefer, peruse our entire department of over 30 Mother's Day gifts.
With love, Jane Moritz (mother of 3 sons)

Woman of Valor Take 5BUY NOW: $64.99 
Woman of Valor Take 5

I love the Biblical hymm, Woman of Valor. It portrays women as the strong, confident and capable beings that we are. This gift marries a delicious nosh with the beautiful woman of valor mug with herbal tea.

For my favorite Woman of Valor framed print, click here.

NYC Kosher Brunch Basket

NYC Brunch Basket

Our brand new brunch basket, which includes lox and bagels for 6, is one of my top picks because it is a perfect "gather-round-the-table-gift" to share with Mom and the family. It's familiarity to Jewish culture makes it heartwarming and welcomed by Mom and the entire family.
BUY NOW: $99.99 
Free Ground Shipping: enter code FS9913

Freshwater Pearl Hamsa by Michal Golan

The hamsa is an object of peace and protection–2 qualities that Moms try to bring to the home. The beautiful work of art by Israeli artist Michal Golan will provide Mom with solace and therefore the entire home. This is a gift that is perfect hung on the wall and will be cherished for many years to come.

BUY NOW: $104.99

Free Ground Shipping: Enter code FS9913

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Shiva Gift Giving Frequently Asked Questions from Challah Connection


Sending a sympathy or shiva gift is certainly one of life’s most difficult tasks. What makes it difficult is our own unease with death combined with a feeling of helplessness—“how can I truly help?” This is particularly so when the death is a tragedy. But as we all know death and even tragedy is part of life.

Here at Challah Connection, we have been helping gift givers send shiva and sympathy gifts for over 10 years. This experience combined with our own mourning for loved ones we have personally lost, makes us particularly well versed in this sorrowful area.

Following are some of the most commonly asked questions by both Jews and non Jews alike, who are attempting to console those in mourning with a special gift.

What Is Shiva?
Shiva is the 7 day Jewish mourning period. During shiva, friends and family visit those who are mourning as an act of support and friendship. Visitors, along with the mourners sit, nosh (eat) and through conversation, celebrate the life that has ended.

When Is Shiva?
A shiva schedule is typically announced at the funeral or obituary. Although shiva is 7 days, many mourners shorten the period. Shiva is never on Shabbat, which begins at sundown on Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday. The first Shiva typically begins after the funeral, which is often followed by the burial. Funerals often start between 11am – 2pm and are around an hour. The burial is on average, another 2-3 hours depending on the distance of the cemetery from the funeral (often in Synagogue or Funeral Home). First shiva can begin anywhere from 4:30pm to 7pm and doesn’t usually last past 9 or so.

I am going to the shiva, to make a shiva call, what should I expect?
Shiva is a sad occasion but you should not feel nervous or uncomfortable. Just being there is enough; you need not worry about saying the “right” thing. If not sure what to say or how to act, it’s best to say little. However, you can never go wrong by being supportive and helpful: “Anyone need a drink?” “Can I help clean up?” “How are you feeling?”

What should I bring to shiva?
Bring food that can easily be served and shared. Avoid food that requires work on the part of the mourners. Kosher cookies, cakes, candies, nuts are all welcome at shiva as long as they are crowd pleasers and easy to serve.

I am far away and can’t go to shiva, what should I do?
Send a card or food-a shiva gift basket. Never send flowers! Shiva gifts should be foods that are well liked by many (don’t forget young kids, if they are part of the mourning family) and easy to serve. Our 3 most popular shiva gifts are Sympathy Comfort Gift Basket, Sympathy Essentials and Caring Conversation Shiva Basket.

When should the gift arrive?
Ideally, the earliest your gift should arrive is the first day of shiva, which is usually the day of the funeral and burial. Shiva gifts are welcome anytime during the shiva period and even beyond (see next question).

What if I have missed the official shiva period, should I still send a gift?
Although the official shiva period is over, the family will still be receiving visitors and food will be needed to feed them. Sending a gift at this time is completely acceptable and shows your care.

What is your best selling shiva gift basket?
In order of popularity, our top 3 most popular shiva gifts are Sympathy Comfort Gift Basket, Sympathy Essentials and Caring Conversation Shiva Basket. Also very popular is our Sympathy Dried Fruit and Nut Tray, Thoughtful Condolence Basket, Baklava Assortment and more which you can see here.

How Do I Choose A Gift?
All of our shiva gifts are time tested and we know that shiva families truly appreciate them. Your choice should be based on your allowable budget (don’t forget shipping), any personal preferences you may have and/or any dietary restrictions of the shiva family that you are aware of. We are always happy to help you make your selection.

Does My Shiva Gift Need to be Kosher?
Sending a kosher gift is a recommended. Even if the mourners are not kosher observant, it is quite possible that some of the attendees are. Shiva is not a time for inconvenience or difficult moments. At Challah Connection, all of our shiva gifts are certified kosher. Most of our foods are certified with high level certifications including OU, OK, STAR K.

Do You Carry Glatt Kosher Shiva Gifts?
Most of our foods are certified with high level certifications including OU, OK, STAR K, which are suitable for those who require the highest level (Glatt) kashrut. If you require such a basket, please let us know and we will be sure that only foods of the highest certification are included.

What Should the Gift Message Say?
For most of us, this is perhaps the hardest part of sending a sympathy or shiva gift. Often, we try to convey too much into the message. Keeping your message simple is key. Following are some of our most frequently used gift messages. Feel free to use as is or with your own personal touch. Don’t forget to sign your name!

-With heartfelt sympathy
-Our thoughts are prayers are with you during this difficult time
-We are so sorry for your loss and send our warmest condolences to you and your family
-May [name of deceased] be a blessing to all who knew him/her
-May G-d comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem

Where should the shiva gift be sent?
Shiva very rarely takes place at a funeral home (actually we have never heard of this happening). Shiva usually takes place at the home of a family member. This is where the shiva gift should be sent.

How should I address the gift—to my friend? To the entire family?
While you may have a specific friend or colleague in mourning, it is a nice gesture to address the gift to the entire family. For example, instead of Ms. Suzie Miller, The Miller Family.

If you are sending a gift to someone who is staying with friends or family, you can address it as follows: The Miller Family, c/o The XYZ Family.

Any questions? Need help placing your order? Please call us at 866-242-5524 or email: service@challahconnection.com.

©2013, Challah Connection, Westport, CT. All rights reserved.

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Challah Connection is 10 Years Old!

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Challah Connection Friends,

It’s true, I’m kvelling. I am surrounded by my family of men (husband and 3 sons) and a solid, growing company that is 10 years old. I feel very blessed, especially in the difficult economic environment we are living in.

When I founded Challah Connection back in 2002, I felt in my heart that you would enjoy sharing traditional Jewish gifts as much as I enjoyed creating them for you.

Little did I know that 10 years later, Challah Connection, with our sister company Kosher Gift Box, would become the leading e-commerce company in the kosher gift-giving market.

Over the years, you have shared your gift ideas, compliments, critiques and recipes and have been active participants in our growth. As a result, we have been able to create a successful company that is clear in its mission and focussed on providing you with unparalleled products and service. I truly thank you and am proud of our accomplishment.

I look forward to sharing many more holidays and gift giving occasions with you over the next decades. Thanks again for all of your continued support!

With love,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jane

P.S. That’s me at a challah baking class in Jerusalem this summer. I learned how to make a challah flower. Love it!

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Exciting New Kosher Gifts for Rosh Hashanah

The summer sure is flying by, isn’t it?  Here at the Challah Connection we’re busy gearing up for our favorite time of year – Rosh Hashanah!  In 2012, the Jewish New Year will be celebrated on September 15.  It’s a great time for gift giving and sharing wishes for a sweet, happy and healthy year to come.

I especially love this holiday because it gives me the chance to get creative with our gift baskets.  Each year we are able to offer more options so that there is something for everyone on your list.  Be sure to request a catalog so you can see all of the exciting new Kosher gift baskets and Kosher gifts I’ve been cooking up.

Here are a few notable ones:

The Rosh Hashanah Breakfast Basket (RHBRBASK) is filled with all you need to start the day, and the New Year, with sweetness and happiness – especially because we are so lucky to have Rosh Hashanah fall on a weekend this year!  We are also excited about featuring Sarabeth Chunky Apple Spread.  For those of you who don’t know, Sarabeth is a famous chef who got her start on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.  This gourmet spread features all natural ingredients.

 The Macaroon Gift Box (MACGIFTBOX) is a delicious assortment of four different types of chocolate-covered macaroons.  It’s perfect as a gift for sharing or just for yourself.

Life on the Lower East Side (BKLOE) is a moving collection of photographs taken by Rebecca Lepkoff between 1937 and 1950.  Together they give an authentic impression of what life was like in this Manhattan neighborhood of immigrants.

 

Two CDs by the favorite Klezmer band make up this Metropolitan Klezmer Set (KLEZSET).  Experience both their concert performances and humor with a live album, as well as a joyful, upbeat and perfectly put together studio album.

And of course we would never forget about the kids when putting together new Rosh Hashanah gifts.  The Rosh Hashanah Puzzle (RHPUZ) is a colorful and educational 30-piece wooden jigsaw.  Kids will love to learn about the history and traditions of the Jewish New Year as they put it together!

 

Don’t forget to check our website for new, exciting, creative Kosher Rosh Hashanah gifts.  And be sure to sign up to be on our mailing list to receive exclusive deals via email!  It’s never too early to get organized for the New Year to make sure everybody on your list gets something special.  As always, we have just what you’re looking for when it comes to Jewish gifts and kosher gift baskets.

 

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