Jewish Christmas Treats…wait, let me explain!

Jewish Christmas Treats.  Yes, you heard right.   You purists out there…allow me to explain.

My friend Grace grew up in Idaho* and returns home there most Christmases.  In tow are her Jewish husband and children.  This family travels to the mill town of Lewiston with a menorah, dreidel, and other holiday items when Chanukah and Christmas overlap.

Grace’s family–dyed-in-the-wool Lutherans who live on the banks of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers–look forward each year to Grace’s homecoming not only because they miss her, but also because she brings loads of Challah Connection Jewish treats with her…the kind of treats, like babkas, rugelach, black and white cookies, savory treats, chocolates, and other fun goodies–that they were first introduced to when my friend married her husband.  The older relatives love to eat cinnamon babka warmed (and with margarine, my friend tells me!) while the young kids love gelt.   No offense to the good people who run commerce in Lewiston, Idaho, but it’s just not the kind of thing my friend’s relatives are likely to find in the local stores.

It turns out that Jews are not the only ones who welcome and enjoy “Jewish” baked goods at this time of year.  With small towns becoming increasingly international, it’s a welcome change of pace for noshers to receive something tasty, outside their usual comfort zone

I find it thrilling…another example of a world where we are allowed exquisite freedom to share in each other’s rituals, each other’s customs, each other’s foods, each other’s sweet holiday delights.  It makes for a far more delicious world! 

Happy noshing, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!


*fun fact: Idaho’s Moses Alexander was the first Jewish governor in the United States

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The Year of the Pickle

It’s a famous Jewish tradition: Chinese food and a movie on Christmas. Who knows how it all got started? Years ago, some enterprising Jewish family must have ventured out into the empty streets–with all the stores shuttered- on Christmas Day and discovered a light glowing in the distance. Hurrying closer, that Jewish family stood under the light and saw that it said “Sakura.” After stuffing their faces, the family headed out into the empty street and saw another light. “Cineplex” it said.

Thus a tradition was born (reversing the order is optional) and my family has certainly partaken of that tradition. But my love of Chinese food isn’t limited to Christmas alone. During any season, but especially during cooler weather, my family has been known to happily decamp to our favorite Chinese restaurants in Connecticut and New York and enjoy all of the savory delights. While shoveling in all this delicious food, I’ve noticed and been fascinated by the Chinese Zodiac imprinted on the placemat. You know–Year of the Dragon, Year of The Rat, etc. I’ve thought: Why not a Jewish tradition like it?

Imagine, then, my excitement, when I came across some wonderful new products that playfully combine Jewish food and Chinese culture–Seth Front’s The Jewish Zodiac.

Of course it’s not “The Year of the Ox” but “The Year of The Lox” I’m talking about! I love anyone who can make me laugh–and Seth’s products are just hilarious.

Here at Challah Connection, we’re proud to offer these fun, new products like The Year of the Pickle t-shirts and Year of The Black & White t-shirt. (My husband is sporting one now, but has yet to fess up to whether he is on the black side of the cookie or the white). I chatted with Seth at the recent Kosherfest where I asked him which of the amazingly creative shirts is the most popular. It’s the Year of the Pickle–that must be a new way to refer to our current economic problem. (Maybe I’ll send a shirt to President Obama and his speechwriters.)

While I love the shirts, since I am really kitchen person, I also love the Jewish Zodiac Placemats. Jewish Zodiac Placements

Last night, we set the table with these fun placemats and I could have sworn that my salad pizza had a distinct taste of broccolli with garlic sauce.

Instead of being born in the Year of the Rat or Year of the Sheep, find your Jewish zodiac sign. Were you born under the Year of the Egg Cream, Year of Pastrami, or Year of the Schmear?

Happy Shopping!



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Chrismukkah is Coming, Too!

We are in full “Hanukkah Mode” here at Challah Central, but don’t forget about Chrismukkah–it’s coming too! “What is Chrismukkah,” you might ask?

Last year, Sherry, our Director of Customer Service, was in search of a suitable gift for her brother (Jewish) and his wife (non-Jewish). Sherry wanted to give a gift that honored the two holidays that they observe, Hanukkah and Christmas. Our brainstorming lead to research which then lead to the recognition that Sherry’s quandary, sometimes called the “December Dilemma,” is extremely common! There are many of you who are celebrating both Hanukkah and Christmas and in doing so, have taken traditions from both. This is what we call “Chrismukkah.”

Our research led us to the book, Chrismukkah, by Ron Gompertz. The book takes a light-hearted look at the celebration of what we all have in common, not what makes us different. While Chrismukkah is not a holiday with a date on the calendar, Ron claims that it is a state of mind for the season. It is a multi-cultural, mish-mash of the cherished holiday rituals we grew up with. Chrismukkah is a way intermarried families of Christians and Jews can share the holidays. It’s customizable to suit the individual celebrants and their extended families.

In time for the holidays, we have developed a few Chrismukkah gifts, including Chrismukkah Traditions in a Box and Oy to the World—A Klezmer Christmas. We are feverishly developing more gifts, as we speak.

Speaking of the Chrismukkah book, this week I will fill you in on my conversation with the author. Stay tuned.

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