This holiday season is going to be a remarkable and beautiful one. Simply by the fall of the calendar, people of many faiths will be sharing their holiday traditions—together.
As a Jew, I often feel isolated and left out when so many people around me are celebrating Christmas. Conversely, I know that my Christian friends often feel the same when we are frying up the latkes and lighting the menorah. This year, it will all be different.
So, what makes this holiday season 2011 different from other holiday seasons?
We will all be celebrating together, on the same day, which is beautiful and remarkable because we will:
For those of you who celebrate both holidays—and I know there are many—this year promises to have less stress and more joy. No need to have 2 celebrations, but rather one, joyous, peaceful one.
What to Bring to a Holiday Celebration
Going to a party where both Hanukkah and Christmas are being celebrated? This is a perfect opportunity to share Hanukkah traditions while also acknowledging Christmas traditions. Potato Latkes, Blue and White Cookies, a Hanukkah gift Basket–all lovely choices for sharing.
I wish you the warmest of holidays seasons. Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas!
Owner, Challah Connection
Here at Challah Connection, we are always developing new kosher gifts for you to share with friends and family. To that end, we travel to many national food shows and gourmet food shops in Manhattan, Brooklyn and our local CT neighborhood–wherever we know fabulous foods exist that can be paired into fabulous kosher gift baskets.
In time for your holiday gift giving, I am pleased to announce terrific new kosher gifts for Hanukkah and Christmas as well as some gorgeous new Judaica (menorahs and dreidels) that we have sourced for Hanukkah. All of these new gifts make terrific Hanukkah gifts and Holiday gift baskets.
One of my favorite new kosher gifts, NYC Food Tour Tower, is a collection of NYC iconic foods such as Dr. Brown’s soda, black and white cookies and more, assembled in sturdy “keeper” boxes that display a dramatic photo montage of NYC and Brooklyn’s top spots.
Another great new gift is our Happy Chanukah Chocolate Gift Box, so happy-looking and delicious.Our new Blissful Brownie Gift Box is great for large volume corporate gift giving or as a gift to Aunt Sue. As for Jewish and Judaica gifts, we have some gorgeous new menorahs, dreidels and decorations from Emily Rosenfeld, Gary Rosenthal, Tamara Baskin as well as a beautiful new ornament.
Shopping for a baseball fan? There are alot of you out there. I know that I will be giving my Yankee-fan-son “Jeter’s 3000 Hit Baseball.” For my nephew, who just moved into his first post-college apartment, what could be better than “Ballparks of the MLB,” a framed piece that includes real dirt from every MLB ballpark? Pretty exciting!
I hope you’ll take a few minutes to peruse our new and “old favorite” holiday gifts. As I hope you realize, we work very hard to find the finest gifts for all of your gift-giving needs. If you have product suggestions, please let me know, we want to hear them!
Owner, Challah Connection
KVELL: Do you know the meaning of this soulful Yiddish word?
It means to gush with pride.
I hope that you have had much to kvell about recently. Something great that you did that brought happiness to someone? Or maybe one of your kids or grandkids did something kvell-worthy?
Well, we Challah “Connectors” are kvelling right along with one of our customers and his grandmother. Here’s a story for us all to kvell about. Read it and at the end, I will tell you why we should all be proud, why we should all be a community of kvellers.
I just wanted to let you know that my grandmother was the happy recipient of
a Challah and Babka this past Saturday – just in time for breaking the Yom
Kippur fast. I sent the Challah to my 95 year old (!) grandmother in
upstate New York. She is very healthy, but two weeks ago she slipped and
fell, and while she didn’t break anything, she’s had to take a break from
her normal busy schedule to rest and recover. Also, this year, since
everyone was travelling/not home, she was going to be spending the holiday
without family. I spoke with her last Friday and she said she wished she
could drive downtown and at least buy a Challah to break the fast, but she
probably wasn’t going to be up to making the trip…
Imagine her delight when the next day, a beautiful challah and cake arrived
at her door. It really cheered her up and gave her a much needed boost -
she said it was one of the best, most special gifts she’d ever gotten. I’m
very appreciative to you and your company for making this happen! As I’m
sure you already are, you can be very proud of what you’re bringing to
people! It’s not just bread, it’s also love…
“It’s not just bread, it’s also love…” I am kvelling over this statement as all of you Challah Connection gift givers should too. When you send someone something as simple as a challah you are sending a tradition, a sweetness and a part of yourself–which is love. That is the true essence of gift giving. Give yourself a moment to kvell over your good deed.
Way back during our dating days, in addition to how many kids we wanted to have, where to live and more, my husband and I discussed–and agreed–that we wanted our kids to go to camp. We both had had life changing experiences there. I learned lots about strength and resilience at my Canadian swimming camp where the motto was “we don’t sew beads on belts.” Josh made friends that are still an important part of his life.
In 2000, Sam, our first son, went off to camp, leading his two brothers, who followed shortly after. There is no doubt that after over 20 collective years of camp, all three boys love it deeply and have taken the essence of it into their everyday lives. Sam, almost 21, just started his third year on staff. Harry, 19, is leaving soon for a 6 week cross country camping trip. My “little” 15 year old, Mike, just started his eighth and last summer there. Lessons like “help the other fellow” and others that are gleaned from 17 day canoeing trips in Canada have shaped them in so many ways. Our camp, Keewaydin, is all about fun, adventures and challenges through rugged trips and outdoor living. It is truly a remarkable place.
This article, “A Lost World of Family Time,” written by Michael Thompson, author of “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys,” really brings to life the spirit of camp that Josh and I were looking for when envisioning the lives of our future children.
The summer I turned nine, my parents sent me to camp for the first time. That first day, after filing off the bus in our gingham shorts and sleeveless shirts, we new campers huddled together, nervous, excited, waiting for the camp director to call our names and send us to our bunks. Half way through the list of names, the director called “Tiger Mark,” but no one responded. Eventually, all the names were called, but I didn’t hear my name. Maybe I had gotten on the wrong bus?
“Tiger Mark,” the director called again and smiled at me. Then I understood. I recognized my last name “Mark.” My Dad, ever the jokester, had filled in my name on the camp form as “Tiger.” It was his nickname for me, his way of reminding me, even hundreds of miles away at camp, to set my eye on my goal and never give up. I raised my hand and smiled big. “That’s me,” I said.
Not giving up was the third most important thing my Dad taught me. The second most important? Be straight and clear and true with others. His straightforward approach never caused us to doubt him or question his meaning. Once, for example, when we asked him what death meant, he told us it meant you stopped breathing. So last summer, when he stopped breathing, we knew what it meant. There is a time to not give up, but there’s also a time to let go, my Dad seemed to tell me as he took his last breath.
Despite these profound lessons, one lesson transcends them both. The third most important thing my Dad taught me: love. He loved his family first and best; we always knew it, and we know it still. For his lessons and for his love, I remember and honor my father this Father’s Day. He is my number one mensch.
Who is yours? Please share a short story, essay, or remembrance of your favorite mensch on this blog. To read more about my Dad, Julian Mark click here.
Best, Jane (Tiger Mark) Moritz
This morning, I got a call from a lovely man who wanted to order a cheescake as a Shavuot gift for his wife. After a few minutes of various questions and answers, he told me he was in the subway. I was impressed that his cell phone carrier was so competently keeping our call alive when we arrived at the point in the call where I needed to ask for his credit card info:
Me: “Is it secure there for you to give me your credit card number,” imagining him flanked on both sides by other riders.
Him: “Do you know Hebrew?”
Me: “Not really, but I’m probably ok at my numbers.”
So began the jogging of my memory to forage the ehad, shtayim, shalosh that I learned in day school so many years ago to obtain a Visa card number. It was actually kind of fun–he said a few numbers in Hebrew, I read them back in English. It was nice–we had formed a real partnership-2 strangers in a joint endeavor.
It was a very fruitful call: my customer’s wife is getting a delicious cheesecake and I am feeling empowered that I was able to remember my hebrew numbers–just like riding a bike! I hope you have a great day too.
The phrase “land of milk and honey” is one that many of us have heard before. First mentioned in the book of Exodus as a description of Israel’s agricultural abundance, it was Moses’s destination while leading Jews out of Egypt.
Since then, it has become a visual metaphor for all things flowing and abundant. It is a term that conjures up pure pleasure including freedom, delicious, birth, fertility and more.
The holiday of Shavuot is on June 8 and celebrates the giving of the Torah* at Mt. Sinai, and the season’s first harvest of fruits. It’s customary to eat a dairy meal on Shavuot, reminding us of the land of milk and honey.
* the Torah is the primary “Jewish document” showing Jews how to act, feel and participate in every aspect of life and death. It is the “blueprint” for Jewish life and death.
The Jewish holiday of Shavuot is approaching fast so we would like to take some time to slow things down and enjoy the dairy products this holiday surrounds us with!
Shavuot marks the first fruit harvest of the season, yet it is customary to enjoy a dairy meal to celebrate. And why not, the spring is a perfect time to munch on some dairy! Forget the meat! Therefore, we think a fun and delicious part of this holiday is the cheesecake!
Jane’s mom is an extraordinary baker (she is where Jane gets her culinary skills from!) and loved to make cheesecake. Jane has fond memories of this glorious cheesecake resting in the middle of their Shavuot feast! And you’re in for a treat as we reveal her favorite cheesecake recipe!
Now this recipe comes from the book The Wonderful World of Freezer Cooking by Helen Quat and is as follows:
1 ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons ground almonds or walnuts
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground lemon peel
½ cup melted butter
(My mouth is already watering!)
INGREDIENTS FOR FILLING
1 ½ pounds soft cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon rind
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine the crust ingredients (graham cracker crumbs, nuts, sugar and lemon peel) while stirring in butter till thoroughly blended.
3. Press mixture firmly against bottom of 9” spring form. Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.
4. In a large bowl or mixer, beat cheese until creamy. At medium speed, add sugar gradually, then vanilla, lemon juice and rind. Blend well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and beat at medium speed for 10 minutes, until fluffy. Pour into pan on top of crust.
5. Bake at 250 degrees for 35 minutes. When 35 minutes is up, turn off the oven and leave the oven door ajar.
1 pint ice-cold sour cream
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1. Combine sour cream, sugar and vanilla and whip for 10 minutes until foamy. Spoon over top of cake. Bake in 250 degree oven for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cool*. Wrap. Freeze.
Serving Day: Remove from spring form and thaw in refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours.
Graduation is upon us! At this time of year many parents, grandparents, friends and relatives are searching for the perfect gift–one to congratulate those who have labored many hours in the library studying and writing research papers in order to earn the degree and better themselves for the future. Graduation is a significant event in one’s life and a perfect time to reflect on one’s Jewish beginnings! Here at the Challah Connection, our goal is to make gift giving easier for you by offering appropriate and beautiful gifts. So of course, we have the perfect gift for graduations of many sorts!
One of our favorites and many of our customers’ favorites as well, is the beautiful Judaic Framed Art by Caspi. Recently, a customer who purchased the Business Blessing Judaic Framed Art (below) for her niece, emailed us to say: “My niece loved her graduation gift! She’s going to hang the artwork up in her new office. Thank you!” Since these artworks are so popular, we wanted to give you a behind-the-scene glimpse of their origins with Eran and Mickie Caspi, the delightful couple who own and create Caspi fine art.
Eran gave us really strong points as to why he believes the artwork is so popular. His primary reason being that “the artwork is just beautiful.” The images in the art are pleasing to the eye. The secondary reason is the price. Caspi’s already framed artwork costs less than going out and getting your own artwork framed! As Eran said, “It’s a work of art available as a framed gift ready to go!” And the framed artworks titled “The Lawyer’s Creed” and “The Healing Arts Prayer Framed Art for a Medical Professional” are top sellers for graduation.
Mickie, the artist behind the framed work, attributes her inspiration from everywhere. A certain type of architecture that’s appealing to her, or more evidently scenes of nature, are things that motivate her to create the images in her art. Mickie also likes “to incorporate Jewish motifs and scenes into the art work.” Many of the poems include biblical aspects as well! Whether it be in the text, such as the Lawyer’s Creed containing quotes from the Deuteronomy , or in the art with the Maimonides Prayer, depicting Moses’ brass serpent. These pieces of art truly come from the hearts of the owners, in an attempt to enter the heart of your recipient. The time and effort behind these pieces of art make it a gift to be cherished.
When we asked Eran if he believes that Caspi’s framed Judaic art is a perfect gift to receive to congratulate one’s accomplishments he replied “Absolutely!” Adding that, “When people receive these framed poems they are getting beautiful works of art. What we have heard from those who have purchased the artwork is that their recipient is touched and moved by the pieces.” So if you are still searching for the perfect graduation gift, do not hesitate to go to our website and order a Framed Judaic Gift. You and your recipient will both earn congratulations!