‘Rise to the Occasion’ This Sukkot and Tune Into Emunah Israel’s Inaugural Challah Bake

Normally during this time of year, Christians rush to the Holy Land to bless Israel during Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), and pray for rain and a good harvest season, as foretold in Zechariah 14:16-17:


“All who survive of all those nations that came up against Yerushalayim shall make a pilgrimage year by year to bow low to the King Adonai of Hosts and to observe the festival of Sukkot. Any of the earth’s communities that does not make the pilgrimage to Yerushalayim to bow low to the King Adonai of Hosts shall receive no rain.”


But as tourism has been halted because of the coronavirus, and breaking bread together is only possible virtually, Jerusalem Tours, in partnership with Emunah Israel, invites Israel’s Christian friends to connect with the Jewish community and bless Israel in new and fun ways. 


This year, from anywhere in the world, you can join in on the age-old Jewish tradition of baking challah (a Sabbath bread mentioned in Numbers 15:18-21 that symbolizes the manna that were distributed on Fridays to the children of Israel during their Exodus from Egypt), as you honor the holiday of Sukkot (Feast of the Tabernacles, Leviticus 23:34-43) from the comfort of your home – all while supporting Emunah Israel’s efforts to care for Israel’s most vulnerable children, families and women. 


On October 8 at 7:30 p.m. ET., tune into Facebook Live for an Emunah (which in Hebrew means “faith”) Sukkah party and baking class led by top Chef and cookbook author Elizabeth Kurtz, who will teach the tips and tricks to the beauty of challah making from her Sukkah (temporary dwelling), and provide inspiration for connecting to God and the people of Israel.


“The uniquely special part of our event ‘Rise to the Occasion,’ is that it will take place in the sukkah, marking the beginning of the year and harvest season for the Jews. It is also a special time to take on new mitzvot (commandments), daven (pray) for ourselves, our families and others,” Kurtz told Israel365 News.

According to director of Emunah Angels Israel, Ruth Guggenheim, the inaugural event intends to build bridges between the Jewish and Christian communities, forging new connections between individuals, congregations and cities around the world — all in support for the thousands of children and families that Emunah supports and cares for on a daily basis. 

As Challah bakes have become popularized in the Jewish world as a way to engage Jews in their spiritual and Hebraic roots, so too can this practice spark interfaith collaboration and action. 

While Kurtz teaches the art of challah making, Emunah of America CEO Laurie Szenicer will discuss the inspiration behind each of the ingredients of challah – what water symbolizes in Judaism, for example, as well as tips for the other ingredients, as well as heat and moisture. In addition to the religious, spiritual and practical questions about baking challah, the women will explain the meaning behind the traditions of the Jewish season of festivals, including blowing the shofar (ram’s horn mentioned in Exodus 19) on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and shaking a lulav (from the date palm tree) and etrog (yellow citron) and sitting happily in a Sukkah during Sukkot, a holiday honoring the protective shelter God provided to the people of Israel in the desert, as told in Leviticus:

“On the first day you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before Hashem your God seven days. You shall observe it as a festival of Hashem for seven days in the year; you shall observe it in the seventh month as a law for all time, throughout the ages. You shall live in booths seven days; all citizens in Yisrael shall live in booths, in order that future generations may know that I made B’nei Yisrael live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I Hashem your God.(Leviticus 23:40)

“I invite people to connect themselves to our history, our matriarchs, as well as God, our families, and our people,” added Kurtz, who will be teaching from her cookbook Celebrate: Food Family Shabbos, which includes 18 user-friendly challah recipes to meet every taste and directly benefits Emunah’s children in Israel.

“Emunah is near and dear to my heart,” she continued. “As the largest women’s [religious Zionist] social service in Israel, they reach every population you can think of, from children from broken families, to orphans, to day care centers, to summer camps for dance, art, and writing, to helping lonely seniors and helping people find jobs, to crisis centers in regions of higher terror. Their work is incredible – you can see it in the children who grow up in the homes they support, as well as in the families who get help. It’s a mission that you can support no matter your affiliation, and it feels amazing to support people in Israel.” 

According to Guggenheim, this will be the first of many Challah Bake events, with other groups in Canada, Texas, Ohio and Boston already planned. 

“Be blessed by God and help his children in Israel,” Guggenheim requested, and further explaining that during Sukkot, man does not live on bread alone – when the Israelites were in the desert, God gave the Israelites the manna from heaven, protecting them – a physical protection but also a spiritual reminder of the importance in Jewish life of giving thanks for the bounty of the earth.

“He subjected you to the hardship of hunger and then gave you manna to eat, which neither you nor your fathers had ever known, in order to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but that man may live on anything that Hashem decrees.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

As we give thanks, Guggenheim told Israel365 News, we are asked to ‘rise’ to the occasion, as called upon by Isaiah 60:1, and work on behalf of the needy and oppressed in society. 



Written in collaboration with Emunah Israel, Yeshiva For the Nations and Jerusalem Tours

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