2018-08-29 / Voice at the Shore

NextGenAC making, baking, and taking orders for “Challah for Hunger”

By ELLEN WEISMAN STRENGER Voice shore editor

NextGenAC bakers Claire Gadon, Rachel Waldman, Sammy Hammond, Leo Hammond, Angelina Moiso, and Meryl Shields show off their challahs. NextGenAC bakers Claire Gadon, Rachel Waldman, Sammy Hammond, Leo Hammond, Angelina Moiso, and Meryl Shields show off their challahs. What’s better than freshly baked homemade challah? Combatting hunger with every loaf that you buy.

That’s the idea behind Challah for Hunger, an organization popular on college campuses that has just begun a new satellite program working with NextGenAC, a section of the local Jewish Federation for young adults in their 20s through 40s.

This new NextGenAC program should reap a harvest of benefits for our entire Jewish community, said Rachel Waldman, Jewish Federation’s Hillel/Young Leadership director, who developed the partnership with Philadelphiabased Challah for Hunger. Thanks to this partnership, delicious homemade challahs will be offered for sale—for $10 each—at least four times a year at the Shore, with half the proceeds going to the JFS Food Pantry.

Challah for Hunger made its debut here earlier this month, when 17 NextGenAC members made and sold 100 loaves of challah. The group worked in shifts. On the Wednesday night before the sale, six people got together to prep the dough. The next day, starting at 9 a.m. and going on into the late evening, several shifts of NextGenAC volunteers helped to knead and braid the dough. The challahs were sold and distributed the next day.

Waldman, who regularly took part in baking Challah for Hunger as a student at Muhlenberg

College, supervised the challah making.

“Most people had never made challah before, maybe only four out of the 17. I taught them about each step of the process: How long to let it rise, how to braid, all of those things. They were all surprised at how fun this was, how active and hands on the process was,” said Waldman. All 17 are looking forward to doing it again, as are many NextGenAC members who couldn’t make the challah bake.

“We may do it more than four times per year, given the positive response,” said Waldman. Most people said they would not have set aside time to make challah without this program and were thankful that NextGenAC gave them with the opportunity to do this, she added.

Seventy of the 100 challahs made went to people who pre-ordered them through NextGenAC’s Facebook page. Volunteers sold the remaining loaves “pretty much instantly,” said Waldman, who set up a table outside of Scout Clothing & Décor, a store owned by NextGenAC board member Hanna Newcomer, at 7817 Ventnor Avenue in Margate.

All the money raised goes back to the Challah for Hunger, which will use half to support its operations on college campuses and will send a check for the other half to Jewish Federation of Atlantic & Cape May Counties. Jewish Federation plans to give this money to the JFS Food Pantry. “It will stay in our community, which is one of Challah for Hunger’s biggest goals,” said Waldman.

Challah for Hunger was started by Scripps College Student Eli Winkelman in 2004, who missed baking challah with her family and sought a way to connect with her school’s Jewish community. She began baking challah with friends, selling some of what they made and ultimately donating their profits to social justice causes.

She eventually formalized her challah baking routine into a program that could be shared with students at other colleges and universities—and in 2009 Challah for Hunger was born.

On the Challah for Hunger website, (challahforhunger.org) the organizations described its mission: “We build communities inspired and equipped to take action against hunger. Through our work, every one of us will discover our own power to spark positive change and work collectively to solve urgent social challenges.”

The website also noted that thousands of Jewish students on 80 college campuses across the U.S., Canada, the UK and Australia now “continue the centuries-old tradition of baking challah together and practicing tikkun olam through Challah for Hunger.

The organization has more recently branched out to offer community-based programs in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. These include special needs programs, teen programs and private classes and workshops.

Challah for Hunger’s next frontier is to create “satellite” programs in other parts of the country, said Waldman. “We are their first satellite, which is exciting,” she added.

The next local Challah for Hunger bake and sale will be held at the end of October. “We will have a ‘Challah-ween’ theme,” said Waldman. To order a challah, call the Jewish Federation at 609-822-4404, or watch out for order information on the Jewish Federation and NextGenAC Facebook pages. 

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