JF&CS Volunteer News Spring 2015

challahFlour, yeast, eggs, oil, salt, sugar, and water… a few simple ingredients of a traditional challah bread can fill your kitchen with an amazing aroma. Whether you bake your own or pick up a loaf on your way home, challah brings people together.

Now through a new JF&CS Challah Baking program, volunteers at temples throughout Greater Boston are gathering to bake and deliver challah and share Shabbat dinner with adults with disabilities.

"Our goal is to be able to provide a Shabbat experience for adults with disabilities who live in the community and an opportunity for congregants to meet and share Jewish life experiences," said Sandy Slavet, Director of JF&CS Jewish Life Services for People with Disabilities.

In honor of its Jewish traditions, JF&CS hosts this special meal for residents of its seven supported living houses. With Sandy's help, residents take part in the candle lighting ceremony, Kiddush, and Motzi, and eat Shabbat dinner together several times a month. The dinners are an important way for adults living in a JF&CS program or receiving staff support from JF&CS to spend time together and enjoy this ancient ritual.

The Challah Baking program is a new way for volunteers to get involved. On Thursdays, volunteers meet at their temple to braid and bake the challah. The following night, they deliver the challah to a local supported living house, where residents of that house and other supported living houses in the area gather to welcome Shabbat.

The program was initiated by JF&CS volunteer Jennifer Gorman, a member of the Services for People with Disabilities advisory committee and chair of the JF&CS volunteer task force. Jennifer loves to bake and wanted to create a connection to the disabilities community.

"I had an idea to get into temples to do challah baking with youth groups and have them come to dinner," said Jennifer.

"Adults with disabilities are a part of our population that needs to be respected. I think young adults don't quite know how to interact," she added. "Shabbat is a natural and easy way. They see that these adults sing the songs just like they do. It grabs my heart."

During the pilot, teens from Temple Sinai of Sharon gathered to braid and bake the challah, which they delivered to a residence in Norwood the following night, joining the residents for dinner.

"It was very fun. We did different types of braiding. Some put raisins in. It was very creative and the kids enjoyed it," said Jennifer. "We made enough so that each resident went home with a challah."

Like most good things, challah takes time and patience. With wisdom acquired at challah bake-offs, Jennifer is looking forward to watching the program grow like dough in a bowl. She encourages everyone to get involved, saying, "JF&CS is the greatest and the team is incredible. There's a place for everybody at JF&CS."

You're invited!
To find out how you and your temple can participate in Challah Baking, please contact Lauren Schleicher, Manager of Volunteer Services, at volunteers@jfcsboston.org or 781-693-5576.