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
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.”