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It’s Purim–Time to Party

I was visiting my friend Gail a couple of weeks ago and we were chatting about the overall malaise that seems to have infiltrated our lives. No surprise, given the amount of snow we’ve had here in the Northeast and the dismal economy that is keeping too many people from finding jobs. But, Challah Connection is always a bright spot in any conversation, and when we spoke about Purim, it felt like spring, or a time to be happy.
Purim Pure Essentials
Purim is all about freedom, rejoicing and PARTYING! And even better, it’s a mitzvah (good deed) to celebrate Purim with food, drink and merriment! Who can argue with a party dictated by your rabbi? Gail, who is not Jewish, brought up a great point–that Purim is just a plain old good time to party–Jewish or not! Yes, kind of like Mardi Gras.

I remember the Purim parties of my growing up years: bland expressions of festivity in the last 15 minutes of Hebrew school with some dry hamentashen and grape juice served in solo paper cups.
In contrast, the Purim parties of today are sophisticated gatherings with gourmet food, music and fun. As a matter of fact, while writing this, I received an email invitation for a “Purim Prohibition Party” at a super-cool hotel on the Lower East Side in New York. I’ve seen some other fun sounding events which I’d love to attend, but I will actually be in Berlin on Purim. I’ll be visiting my son Harry, who is spending his “gap” year between high school and college on an amazing voyage that has taken him from Portland, OR to Israel and Eastern Europe. It will be my mission to see how Berliners observe this terrific holiday of freedom and celebration. In the meantime, before I leave, it’s all business here at Challah Connection, making sure that your Shalach Manot and Purim gift baskets get out on time. Chag Purim Sameach!

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Valentine’s Day–Jewish or Not?

When it comes to Valentine’s Day, it seems that everyone has an opinion as to whether it is appropriate for Jews to celebrate. Our feeling is that the days of the pagans are so far removed from the current day tradition of chocolates, champagne and romantic dinners that it has simply become a day to share gifts of love. Whether you call it Valentine’s Day or Monday, February 14, it is just another day to show your love. I don’t think there’s anything “un-Jewish” about that, do you?

Speaking of gifts of love, check out ours at Challah Connection.

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Safe Refuge for Today’s Challah (phew!)

“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”-Creed of US Postal Service

We had this in mind this morning when we got a call from our challah delivery driver. He had our fresh baked challah on the van, but couldn’t get down the unplowed road leading to our warehouse. This made for an interesting mission indeed!

Josh Moritz

Josh Moritz, pulling a challah-laden sled over 2 feet of snow.

I guess a dash of creativity combined with our love of you, our dear customer, helped us bring our yummy challah to safe refuge. Click to buy some fresh challah!

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For Tu B’Shvat, Help Plant Trees in Israel

We Will Donate 5% of Every Tu B’Shvat Order to
Operation Carmel Renewal
Shop With Code: BEAUTY

Tu B’Shvat, also known as Jewish Arbor Day, marks the New Year of the Trees. This celebration of trees and nature at large is on January 20. This year, Tu B’Shvat has special meaning.

Here at Challah Connection we embrace this holiday as a beautiful gesture to the miracle that provides our world with beauty, shelter, nourishment and healthy air.
Unfortunately, as a result of living our modern lives, we forget to appreciate trees and even destroy them. This past December, over 12,500 acres of trees were destroyed, along with 44 people killed, in the Carmel fire, the worst in Israel’s history.

We ask you to help replant these trees by sending
Tu B’Shvat gifts to friends and family. We will donate 5% of every order to Operation Carmel Renewal: From Black to Green, an organization created for this effort by the Jewish National Fund.

We look forward to your support of this important gesture. To do so, place your orders now. On January 20, let’s remember to look at our trees with new appreciation and love.

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Happy New Year–2011 is going to be Big

Yesterday’s yoga class really hit the nail on the head for the coming year: “Wish big, Breath Big, Think Big.” Here at Challah Connection, we are thinking BIG for 2011. Check out our plans:

1) Bigger Warehouse Space: We are planning a move into a new warehouse space that will be about 5 times our existing space. After 4 consecutive years of 20%+ growth each year, it’s time. We’ll be adding more staff, more merchandise and better procedures designed to increased quality control.

2) More catalogs: We tested a holiday catalog for Hanukkah/Holiday ’10 and apparently there are many of you who prefer catalog shopping to online shopping. We respect those who prefer to stick with the web for environmental reasons, but we are pleased to provide others this new way to shop for our terrific products. Click here to request our upcoming catalog for Purim Gifts.

3) New Products: You have been loving all of the new gifts we have been creating for you so we have great, big new product ideas for 2011. Over the recent holidays, in addition to our scrumptious holiday food gifts, you bought lots of baseball merchandise, Hanukkah ornaments, Judaica, books (lots of How to Raise a Jewish Dog!), Money clips, Jewish placemats and Jewish fine art. We will continue to expand our products with the goal of ensuring our spot as your favorite gift shop for all of your recipients–Jewish or not! Speaking of scrumptious holiday food gifts, in addition to our holiday gift baskets you “ate” up our kosher gift towers and fresh fruit baskets; both brand new categories introduced for Hanukkah & Christmas 2010.

4) Not Just Jewish! Did you know that Challah Connection has become a true destination for Christmas Gift Baskets? It’s true! “Jewish” baked goods such as challah, babka, rugelach and black and white cookies are popular for Christmas and Easter. As a matter of fact our Challah Maven French Toast Kit and Challah Variety Pack fed many happy families on Christmas morning. This is really exciting to us and we are kvelling that our gifts are in such demand by those outside our Jewish family. From a happy customer:

Your customer service has always been fantastic and everyone I have ever spoken to very helpful. You are a great alternative to places like Harry and David. Keep up the good work.”

We have tremendous respect for our friends Harry & David (another Jewish company–their last name is Rosenberg), but hey guys–here we come!

Thank you all for a terrific 2010 and we look forward to a prosperous 2011.
“Wish big, Breath Big, Think Big.”

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For the Jews of Fairfield County, Christmas is AOK

When I was growing up in Stamford, CT back in the 60′s I really disliked Christmas. Most of my friends were Catholic or Protestant. Christmas was THEIR big day for presents and family and MY big day for feeling sad and left out. Making it worse, everything was closed–even movies, as I remember– so there was really nothing to do. I would pine away for the next day so we could go “back to normal.”

Seems like those days are way in the past. Christmas has become the day for Jews in the ‘burbs to enjoy. We have Chinese food, movies, and invitations to Christmas celebrations. Last night, for Christmas Eve our immediate and extended family gathered at a Chinese restaurant in New Canaan and then walked 2 storefronts over to see True Grit. I truly believe that the Jewish directors (Joel and Ethan Coen) and one of the Jewish executive producers (Steven Speilberg) made sure this terrific movie was available to all of us for Christmas. Thanks guys!! My son Sam, did a scientific survey and has concluded that 1) everyone in the restaurant went to same movie as us and 2) that they were all Jewish. You can read his blog post about it. Frankly, I’m not sure I agree with him especially given the demographic makeup of New Canaan.

Today, Christmas day, I am having a great, relaxing day of eating and cooking. Later, we’ll be sharing Christmas dinner with our friends George and Elaine, with whom we share a close cross cultural friendship. They are part of our extended family and have come to appreciate our favorite Jewish traditions while we love their Russian orthodox/Italian/Polish/Catholic ones. My mother is bringing Elaine’s favorite: brisket. Christmas brisket–how perfectly 2010.

Being Jewish here in the ‘burbs of NYC is actually aok.

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Attention Christmas Shoppers–Get Your Jewish Baked Goods Baskets Here!

Oy, here at Challah Connection, we just love to give our customers a deal on our fabulous kosher gift baskets and now is the time to get one. We generously gave away 10% off merchandise to all of our Hanukkah shoppers who ordered by 12/5 and we were thrilled with all of our new customers who found us through our first-ever catalog. Thank you catalog shoppers!!

Now with Christmas and Chrismukkah upon us, we are thrilled to offer more deals on our scrumptions Christmas gift baskets and Chrismukkah gifts. (For those of you who may not realize, “Jewish” baked goods are very popular and appreciated on Christmas. Of course, this gives us a big-time kvell–Yiddish for pride.) Here’s the deal:

-For online orders $75 and above: Free Ground Shipping and 5% off your order (shipping not included). Use key code: MIRACLE or Click to shop. offer expires 12/19/10

-For online orders $30-$74.99: 5% off your order (shipping not included). Use key code: HI5 or Click to shop. offer expires 12/31/10

For phone orders $75 and above: Free Ground Shipping. Call us at 866-242-5524 to order. offer expires 12/31/10

Happy Holidays–Hanukkah, Christmas, Chrismukkah and any other that you celebrate. We wish you peace and happiness for the holidays–and always.

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Hanukkah Decorations, Who Knew?

I grew up in a household that was somewhere between reformed and orthodox. While that may seem an eclectic mix, in the broader world, it wasn’t: both my were parents Jewish, we all went to Hebrew school and some of us even day school. Needless to say, when it came to December holidays, it was Hanukkah pure and simple–no discussion of trees or bushes although I remember one year, I begged my parents for Christmas-type stockings–”NO.” I did hang an old pair of sweat socks on the mantle and filled it with my own store-bought candy. It was kind of fun but that has been my extent of Christmas involvement.

Last year, here at Challah Connection, we got some requests for items for interfaith families for their celebration of both Christmas and Hanukkah. I have to be honest, I was uncomfortable with the idea. But I came to realize that the truth in 2010 America is that many families are not like the one I grew up in or like the one I have (2 Jewish parents). We quickly got into gear and found some great products for these families. Why not? It brings joy and tradition to their holidays and that is the essence of Challah Connection.

This year, with the introduction of our first catalog, we dedicated one full page to “Chrismukkah,” a holiday best described as a melange of Hanukkah and Christmas traditions. The sales of these products have been astounding! It thrills us that we are providing ways for families to celebrate the holidays. (For any of you who disapprove of these products–and I know there are many–we feel that it is not our place to judge how people celebrate. We are helping people create lasting traditions and family memories, which is our mission.).

Hanukkah Ornament Tree

Hanukkah Ornament Tree with Christopher Radko

But wait…there’s more! Last month, I took a call from a loyal customer who told me that we were short changing our marketing efforts for “Chrismukkah” products. She told me that Jewish families also decorate their houses for Chanukah–not just interfaith or Christmas-celebrating famililes. I was a bit surprised by this given my own background. She explained that she grew up orthodox, her mother survived a concentration camp and that throughout her childhood, her house was filled with Hanukkah decorations. She went on to tell me that many of her Jewish friends also “decorate.” As I often do, I went to my own network of friends and asked about this “Hanukkah Decorating” phenomenon. Sure enough–lots of them do! She recommended some additional items to offer and introduced me to Christopher Radko, a company known for gorgeous blown glass ornaments and also told me about ornament stands. This was a whole new education for me! Last week, with all of the new merchandise in house, ready for a photo shoot I fell in love with the decorating tradition. I LOVE how all of these gorgeous ornaments look and look forward to having them hanging in my house throughout Hanukkah–maybe all through December! How about you–are you going to be “decorating?” Please leave a comment and let us know!!

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Challah Connection and Halloween Cookies

This afternoon, we emailed all of our customers letting them know that we have Halloween Black and Orange cookies. You would think that we were advertising illegal drugs to minors! Within minutes I received several angry emails. Here is a taste of a few of them:
- “Challah Connection supporting Halloween?”
-”Why does the challah connection sell Holloween stuff. Please unsubscribe me from your email list.”
-”Halloween is not exactly a Jewish holiday. This really is inappropriate.”
-”I must confess, I’m not sure which Jewish occasion Halloween is. Please unsubscribe me from your email list as soon as possible.”
-”kind of weird, no?”

As a business owner–one who has sweated over growing this business for 8 years–you NEVER want to see a customer get angry over something you’ve done. Unsubscribing to our email list is even worse, feeling like the ultimate act of abandonment. To those I offended, I deeply apologize and I hope you’ll reconsider unsubscribing.

To answer the question of “why do we support Halloween?” Simply, because it is an occasion to apply our mission: to help our customers share holiday traditions with delicious Jewish inspired goodies. It’s really that simple. We build community through our kosher food gifts.

Interestingly, the Halloween cookies were baked in response to several customers who called and asked for them. Our experience with requests like this is that they represent a broader interest in a product. We felt that the black and orange cookie idea was a great one as it is a spin on the traditional, Jewish black and whites.

Again, we deeply apologize to those of you who are offended by these cookies. It was not our intention to upset or offend. Rather, it was our can-do attitude that quickly pulled together the product and made them available.

We hope you will reconsider our actions and see us as the ambitious mensches that we are.

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Our Holiday Catalog is Almost Here!

Challah Connection 2010 Holiday Catalog

Request a catalog today!

Twenty-four gorgeous color pages showcasing almost 200 great gifts for Hanukkah, Holiday and Chrismukkah. It’s our first catalog and the beginning of an exciting new channel of our business. Who to thank for this exciting growth? YOU, our loyal customers who have come back to us every year, every holiday for over 8 years. If you are not on our mailing list, click on the catalog cover to take you to our catalog sign up form. Watch your mailbox around November 4 for this momentus Challah Connection event!

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