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My Gluten Free Saga

I don’t have to tell you that Gluten Free eating has become extremely common—it’s everywhere! Much to my own surprise, I switched to a gluten free diet last year after I was diagnosed with an illness for which I had no symptoms. Rather then go on medication as my doctor prescribed, I met with a naturopath who put me on a gluten free diet. Since I’ve been eating gluten free, along with dairy free and (mostly) sugar free, I feel great and I have definitely noticed improvements in a few areas.

gluten free challah, challah connectionHowever, as a baker and lover of baked goods, this transition has been a test in fortitude! I bake challah every Friday and since I have yet to find a gluten free challah recipe that looks remotely appealing, I bake full-flour challah for my family and watch them enjoy it. It’s the same for cookies, cakes, rugelach—I love them all but haven’t had any in over a year! When I tell you that the biggest treat I have had over the last year is a Larabar (peanut butter chocolate chip my favorite), I am not exaggerating. I have one just about every day. But recently, my GF “treat” situation changed for the better.

Recently, I was shopping at a farmers market on the Upper West Side of New York when much to my excitement, I found a vendor with gorgeous Gluten free rugelach, Challah Connectionchallah and rugelach (shown above and right)—gluten free and kosher! I bought a bag of the rugelach, gave my business card to the shopkeeper and went home to “taste” the rugelach. I thought I would have 1 piece but then I had another and soon I had convinced myself that 5 was really fine since I had been deprived for a year and a half.

Long story short, we are now carrying this line of gluten free baked goods. They are from Las Delicias of the Bronx, and we are thrilled. The challah is outstanding as well as the rugelach, cookies and brownies. Recently, the owner of the bakery Debbie Brenner, visited us with armloads of samples and to tell her “gluten free story,” which of course was fascinating.

If you or someone you know eats a gluten free diet and enjoys Jewish baked goods including challah (pictured above)—truly braided and not using a mold—please send to challahconnection. You will be doing a mitzvah! With all of these samples here, I could use some help.

Debbie Brenner, Owner, Las Delicias and Ann Delaurentis, Director, Customer Service, Challah Connection

Debbie Brenner, Owner, Las Delicias and Ann Delaurentis, Director, Customer Service, Challah Connection

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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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 jane@challahconnection.com. 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 (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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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 (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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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 (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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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 (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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“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

August 28, 2014

With Rosh Hashana less than a month away (starting at sundown on 9/24), 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:

BUDGET

Rosh Hashana Traditions Basket, Challah Connection

Rosh Hashana Traditions Basket from Challah Connection

How much do you want to spend? Our Rosh Hashana gifts and kosher gift baskets run the price gamut—from our Holiday Challah Set ($39.99) to our Sweetest 5775 Basket. ($299.99) Or you can send a simple jar of honey and some apples for $20. (Don’t forget the shipping cost!). Whatever your budget, stick to it. There is no need to exceed it as whatever you send from the smallest to the most impressive will be appreciated.

FOOD vs NON FOOD

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 Bee Fruitful Basket, Rosh Hashana Traditions Basket and Sweet New Year 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 dept or here for our online catalog.

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).

If you prefer to send a non food Rosh Hashana gift, a honey pot with honey is a great choice or any beautiful Judaica such as a mezuzah, necklace, or wall hanging. Sending something from Israel is a very special gesture. Click here to see our gorgeous Israeli products.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOVE

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

Work related recipients should receive gifts that are not personal in nature and should not include alcohol (alcohol is appropriate for clients and customers). It is best to select a Rosh Hashana gift basket that reflects Jewish tradition such as our 5775 Breakfast Basket, Rosh Hashana Nosh Platter or for a different idea: Honey Server and Dish Set with honey. 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 serving dish, 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. Our Rosh Hashana Nosh Platter and Traditions in a Box were specifically created with college kids in mind. These gifts reflect holiday traditions and are also great for sharing with roommates. Another kosher gift basket often sent by parents is our Rosh Hashana Traditions Basket. 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 L’Chaim Wine Extavaganza.

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 rugelach 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 a toy shofar, a fun puzzle or an imagination playset. 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 at 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 jobSweet New Year 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 FIVE ROSH HASHANA GIFTS FOR COLLEGE KIDS

-Rosh Hashana Traditions Basket
-Rosh Hashana Nosh Platter
-Traditions in a Box
-Sweet New Year Basket
-High Holiday Challah Set

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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