Rosh Hashana’s Sacred Bread Offers Meaning In Many Shapes And Sizes

Posted By on September 24, 2014

Why go traditional when you can go turtle? As this bakery demonstrates, challah comes in shapes beyond the standard round, each endowed with symbolic meaning. Suzanne Kreiter/Getty Images hide caption

Editor's Note: This post was originally published on Sept. 15, 2012.

Challah is a rich, eggy bread baked every week for the Jewish sabbath, or shabbat. But for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year that starts tomorrow at sundown, it gets a few tweaks. There's a little extra honey or sugar, for a sweet new year. And instead of the usual long braid, it's round.

Mimi Wilhelm, who bakes challah for her family every week, teaches a challah-making class through Chabad Oregon. "The reason that we do the round challah, versus the braids, for Rosh Hashana, is because the year is round, [so] it represents that idea. This looks like a crown, for crowning God as king on Rosh Hashana."

But crowns and braids aren't the only shapes around. Charles Levy grew up in Morocco and is now the president of Congregation Ahavath Achim, Portland's Sephardic temple, which is largely made up of Jews of non-Eastern European descent. Growing up, he saw Rosh Hashana challahs in all sorts of forms.

"Some of the people in Morocco will emulate animals, like a swan, or often you'll have a head-like lion, lion of David. Or gdi, which is like a gazelle, a very fine and good-looking animal," he says.

The author's braided round challah. Deena Prichep/NPR hide caption

The author's braided round challah.

There are also traditional challahs shaped like ladders, keys and birds. Like the round Rosh Hashana challah, many of these shapes have symbolic meaning. They echo Bible verses or represent things you want to get in the new year.

But they're also just meant to mark the holiday as something different something special.

See more here:

Rosh Hashana's Sacred Bread Offers Meaning In Many Shapes And Sizes

Related Posts


Comments are closed.

matomo tracker