ISSUE 003 2022 | 5782
fusing cultural heritage, spirituality, and contemporary jewish experiences
Image: Ephraim Moses Lilien, Abraham und Isak, (1874-1925)
It is our mission to bridge the gap between denominations and disciplines and facilitate these connections between Jews.
Founder & Director YAFFA JUDAH Editors TALIA MISAN, SAM RABIN, JORDYN FITZPATRICK Graphic Design NAOMI COHEN FRANKLAND Social Media TAMARA GOLD © 2022, Challah Magazine All Rights Reserved
2 | challah.
Welcome back 2021 has come and gone and we enter 2022 with a new lease on life! In collaboration with a handful of talented writers, artists, and young Jewish thinkers we deliver yet another issue to you. The issue 03 has been a long time coming. Yet, despite lockdowns, the rona, simachot, losses, moving jobs and cities, it is safe to say that the content is to the Challah standard that you can expect. The contents within are truly unique and reflect our mission to bridge the gap between denominations and disciplines. As you may know, the Challah team and collaborators have been working entirely remotely since its founding in 2020, the community has reached as far as Canada, India, Israel, the USA, and of course, Europe. Just recently we had the great pleasure to see our community come together for the first time in real life at our Challah Live event in December. This event encompassed what we have been working hard to achieve, inclusivity. Our storytelling event was attended by speakers and an audience from all strands of Judaism and many previous contributors. Each one showing up with an open mind to hear and learn from one another in true Challah spirit. I hope you enjoy turning every page of this beautiful issue that has been carefully curated by the editorial team, Talia Misan, Sam Rabin, and the newest member to our team, Jordyn Fitzpatrick, and designed seamlessly by Naomi Cohen Frankland. This journey has been one of constant learning and we know there is a lot to do to work towards embodying our mission. I hope you will take inspiration to look inwards and meditate on the landscape of Jewish content produced by our peers for this issue. Tuck in!
A look inside this issue This issue, in particular, takes a dive into the depths of Judaism. From identity, to philosophy, to sheep - a familiar theme within Challah - our contributors have dissected and analyzed some of the mainstays of the Jewish faith. This issue sees an in-depth examination into what it means to live, think, and feel like a Jew. From Sydney Switzer’s intimate narrative of truly observing the details of Hashem’s world, to Jordyn Fitzpatrick’s sociolinguistic take on the continuity of Yiddish as a marker of Jewish identity. We also have the juxtaposition of Joseph Alfon’s thought-provoking reading of Kierkegaard and taking one’s own leap of faith, with Jade Isaacs’ striking re-analysis of a classic biblical tale. What’s more, none have approached their task in the same way. How does this keep happening? How is it that so many people can read the same millennia-old texts and arrive at novel and varied conclusions? And, moreover, what prompts them to do so in the first place? Really what is happening in this issue is less about reinventing the wheel, and more about carrying on a tradition, a spiritual genetic disposition as it were. Jews know how to search for meaning and Truth. And while we all connect to Judaism on different levels and in different ways, we can see that our writers are all working towards the same thing - tuning into the divine frequency and developing their relationship with our Creator. We had the privilege to collaborate with ten exceptionally talented minds who are sure to open the reader’s mind, heart, and stomach (you’ll see). We can’t wait to continue along this ride with you all - Enjoy the read, and enjoy the journey.
Sam, Talia & Jordyn The Editors
4 | challah.
inside this issue welcome
founder’s welcome yaffa judah
publicising the miracle
song of the grasses
yiddish - the living language
the silence and complexities of faith 16 joseph alfon
jacob and the angel
angels of history
cow, a poem
eliav cohen benchabo
black cat judaica
the ultimate vegan challah
Image: Jacob Epstein, Giacobbe e l’angelo, 1940-41, Alabastro
PUBLICISING THE MIRACLE Yaffa Judah Publicising the miracle of Chanukah at a pub in North Finchley feels spiritually familiar to Yaffa as she recalls her first chag in Jerusalem.
n the Jewish year, Chanukah is one of the most publicly celebrated holidays. In fact, we are instructed to light our chanukiot each night for 8 nights in a publicly visible place in the home and preferably outside or by a window that can be seen from the street.
נר חנוכה מצוה להניחה על פתח ביתו מבחוץ The requirement is to place the Chanukah light by the doorway of one’s house, from the outside.
Talmud (Shabbat 21b)
Many celebrate the festival of Chanukah with family, permeating the central message of Chanukah, that Judaism lives on through our resilience and endurance and and we have the responsibility to publicise the miracle to make this clear to ourselves and to others.
Until 2019, I had spent most chagim (sgl. chag) with my family at home in the UK. I had never celebrated a chag in Israel before and I became curious to know how different celebrating a chag would be there. As it happened, I was planning to travel to Jerusalem around December time of 2019 so I decided to extend my trip to stay for just the first night of Chanukah to experience my first chag in Jerusalem and to find out if place holds a significant bearing on the experience of chagim and my Jewish expression.
6 | challah.
Erev Chanukah (the sunlight hours before nightfall of a new Jewish day) arrived. I picked up my camera and walked around the old city, admiring the multicultural festive decorations that weaved through the streets and embellished the pale stone squares. I remember
After wandering around the city in the morning, I planned to meet a good friend who was studying in yeshiva at the time. We met in the late afternoon as Chanukah approached. He brought his chanukiah with him and we walked through the Old City to find a spot to light. We headed for the Rova, a square in the old city, and we sat in the middle of it where we prepared the chanukiah. However, windy squares and candle flames don’t work too well and we struggled to keep it alight. This spectacle attracted a large group of 15 or so young boys aged 9-12 who found great joy in our inability to keep the oil lit. Some of them even took the liberty of attempting to light the sorry wick with their lighters. I think there were some light bets placed on who would be able to light it first and some chanukah chocolate gelt may have been exchanged. We eventually got the first flame to stay alight and kept it lit long enough to sing the tunes, albeit at an increased tempo. We sang Hanerot Hallalu and Maoz Tzur in the street and became a tourist attraction ourselves with passersby filming the scene and taking photos of us with our modest chanukiah. Despite the lacklustre wick, and sitting in the windy outdoors, this chanukah in Jerusalem felt different. I felt an overwhelming sense of joy from publicising the miracle of Chanukah in this way, in the open for all to see. Since that year, I hadn’t felt compelled to celebrate chagim in such a visible way. Partly owing to COVID mobility and partly owing to the state of spiritual flux that I ventured through during the lockdown months. I began to feel that my Judaism was limited by the place I was in and distance from family and friends. I decided that a change of city might be the answer, so I moved back to London in October 2021.
With that move, I planned the first in-person Challah Live event. The event was on the 5th night of Chanukah and 25 Jews, from London to Las Vegas, signed up to the Challah Live unscripted storytelling event. On that night, a crowd arrived, picked their seats and sat with drinks and doughnuts in hand, with open minds, ready to listen. We sat in close proximity to each other, just in front of the rows, the speaker’s chair was on the left and the Chanukah lights were on the right. We said the brachot and lit the chanukiah for all to see, the flames flickered gently, softly lighting up the tinsel and reindeers in the backdrop. I proceeded to introduce Challah, our mission, and the evening ahead. One at a time, the storytellers stepped up in front of the crowd to present their anecdotes and messages to the open minds in front of them. One storyteller spoke of her journey from America to England and how she eventually found herself in the small community of Golders Green. Another speaker told three separate short stories about revolutionary initiatives in the 20th century that impacted the way we live today, they beautifully tied it together to complement the evening’s theme of inclusivity. Finally, some who listened bravely took a shot at sharing a word with the crowd and were met by everyone’s encouragement. We weren’t in a synagogue, we weren’t in Jerusalem, but the whole scene was peppered with Jewish pride, the coexistence of cultures, and the impenetrable atmosphere which is built by sharing our stories with one another. I felt the same sense of joy celebrating in the pub as I had back in Jerusalem, I was proud to be sharing this experience with other young Jews to create this temporary but sacred space. If we only make space for the Divine, we can have inspiring and meaningful Jewish connections with Hashem by making an effort to do so, wherever we are. Whether in the streets of Jerusalem or in a pub in North London, kippah or no kippah, magen david on display or not. I hope that through Challah we will be able to continue to create Jewish spaces to proudly publicise miracles as our ancestors intended it. www.challahmagazine.com | 7
peering over a high wall where I watched bakers dust and sugar-coat racks of freshly baked doughnuts. The smell reminded me of baking at home with my mother. Across the street the vendors filled their market stalls with latkes, cassolas, buñuelos, and traditional Chanukah foods from around the world. There was an atmosphere as the city buzzed and I had a flutter in my stomach with the same excitement seeing the locals making preparations for the evening.
GRASSES connection through nature
רֹועה יֵ ׁש לֹו נִ ּגּון ְמיֻ ָחד לְ ִפי ָה ֲע ָש ִבים ּולְ ִפי ֶ ְרֹועה ו ֶ כִ י כָ ל,כִ י ַדע , כִ י כָ ל ְב ֵה ָמה ְּוב ֵה ָמה יֵ ׁש לָ ּה ֵע ֶשב ְמיֻ ָחד,רֹועה ָשם ֶ ַה ָמקֹום ֶשהּוא ּולְ ִפי.רֹועה ָת ִמיד ְב ָמקֹום ֶא ָחד ֶ גַ ם ֵאינֹו.ֶש ִהיא צְ ִריכָ ה לְ ָאכְ לֹו כִ י כָ ל ֵע ֶשב וָ ֵע ֶשב. כֵ ן יֵ ׁש לֹו נִ ּגּון,רֹועה ָשם ֶ ָה ֲע ָש ִבים וְ ַה ָמקֹום ֶש ּומ ִש ַירת ָה ֲע ָש ִבים ִ , ֶשזֶ ה ְב ִחינַ ת ֶפ ֶרק ִש ָירה,אֹומר ֵ יֵ ׁש לֹו ִש ָירה ֶש .רֹועה ֶ נַ ֲע ֶשה נִ ּגּון ֶשל ָה For know! Each and every shepherd has his own special melody, according to the grasses and specific location where he is grazing. This is because each and every animal has a specific grass which it needs to eat. He also does not always pasture in the same place. Thus, his melody is dictated by the grasses and place he pastures. For each and every grass has a song which it sings. This is the concept of Perek Shirah. And from the grass’s song, the shepherd’s melody is created Rebbe Nachman, Likutei Moharan, Part II, 63:1
Image credit: Sydney Switzer
2022 | 5782
he pandemic was stretching on, and I sat in my rented room in Glasgow by myself, wondering what to do. I came to Scotland for adventure, for exploration, to find something new. So one day I got on the train at Queen Street Station and got off in the tiny highland village of Dalmally. I spent the summer of 2020/5780 volunteering on a small sheep farm in the Scottish highlands. The pandemic had taught me to slow down and open my eyes, and in Dalmally, everywhere I turned had something new to show me. I learnt the names of the plants, and as I passed them on the hills, I would look at them and try to understand them in a deeper way. As I sipped my evening tea I would drink in the scent of the mountain air and the immense sense of wonder. I did physical farm labour, and encountered things I never had before. Even acts as simple as making an omelette became new when I first went to the chicken coop to pick up that day’s eggs.
Rebbe Nachman teaches us that it’s not enough to see what’s in front of us. He explores the relationship between the shepherd and his sheep, and how aware the shepherd becomes of every embodied attribute of his flock. It’s not enough for the shepherd to see the sheep as it is in the moment, but he must see the larger picture - what came before, what exists around the sheep. The shepherd can simply count his sheep and move on, but 10 | challah.
It’s not enough for the shepherd to see the sheep as it is in the moment, but he must see the larger picture - what came before, what exists around the sheep. instead he takes the time to really know the sheep. He looks at them, analyzes them, and internalizes them. He knows what they’ve been eating, and where that grass was grown. He truly understands the sheep. So too with the eggs. At home I eat eggs, and they come from the shop, cleaned up and secured in little plastic holders. On the farm, I ate real eggs. I picked them from the coop covered in muck and feathers. When the chickens were upset by something, there were no eggs. Those days there were no omelettes. Sometimes the chickens lay their eggs in a different spot. Life on the farm was a process of understanding the objects in my life, and getting to know them in a way I never had before. I lived according to nature and its materials. The highlight of my time in Dalmally was the sheep. I’ve never been one for animals, but there’s something about sheep. I’ve been a knitter for as long as I can remember, and running my fingers through the coarseness between their ears, I felt something far more raw and material than when I knit with yarns from the shop. Digging my hands into the fleece of a sheep, breathing in its scent, I felt a deep, tangible connection to the material of everyday life. I watched as the sheep were shorn, their fleeces laid out flat, and picked through for dirt. We soaked them in
2022 | 5782
soap and water to draw out the greasy lanolin, and then picked through again, pulling out thorns and bits of dead grass. Next comes the carding, where the wool is brushed apart, separating the individual hairs in preparation for the spinning. At first, learning to spin felt awkward. The leading thread kept pulling away, and I would have to rethread it and start again. The combination of right hand and left hand and foot pedal and keeping the wheel turning took me a while to get a hold of. But by the end of the summer, I had enough wool to knit myself a jumper. Rebbe Nachman teaches us that the materials of this world are intimately related to the way that we experience it. Imagine the attention to detail that must be paid to the sheep in order to pick up on the minuteness of change resulting from the shifting quality of the grasses on which the sheep feed. Imagine if we thought about the lifecycle of our omelettes and our jumpers with that same level of intensity. Imagine if we were able to live our lives in a state of such awareness that we could pick up on all the minute details we encounter in our own lives. This yearning to understand the source of the objects in my life has led me to explore many new avenues. In the past year I’ve ventured into gardening, pickling and foraging, all in an attempt to get my hands one step deeper into the process of understanding the world around me. I don’t want to just skim the surface - eat the food, wear the clothes. I want to understand and be involved in the process of growing the food, spinning the wool, gathering the materials. Rebbe Nachman’s text is commonly understood as a mashal מ ָׁשל,ָ a metaphor, for how God encounters the Jewish people. Just as the shepherd lives in awareness of all the tiny details, so too does God, in His infinitude, maintain a deep rootedness in, and an infinite awareness of, every tiny aspect of the physical world.
We can choose to be the shepherd who merely sees his flock. As we make our way through the world, we encounter so many different things. We see them, we acknowledge them, and we may even feel gratitude for them. But it’s when we get to know them, deeply, understand how they’re made, where they come from, what they mean, how they fit into the larger picture of the universe - this is where we become the true shepherd. This is where we can understand the grass through our understanding of the sheep, where we can begin to get a glimpse of the larger picture. This process comes in many ways. I find it in my spinning, and my wandering through the countryside. I find it when I learn about the world, when I further my understanding of the processes that make up everyday life. I find it when I learn to create, mimicking how God creates, and when I break it down into all the parts. I find it when I stop and look around and really acknowledge what I see. I find it when I let my fingers sink deep into the wooly warmth of the fleece on the back of a sheep, and then move a bit deeper.
Sydney is a Jewish Educator based in Glasgow, Scotland. She completed her Bachelors of Fine Arts with a Major in Photography and a Minor in Social Practice & Community Engagement at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, Canada. After two years as a Jewish Service Corps Fellow with the JDC in Mumbai, India, she moved to Glasgow, where she is the Scotland Youth Programmes Coordinator for UJIA. She uses textiles, photography and writing to explore Jewish identity and the places she has come to call home.
www.challahmagazine.com | 11
Yiddish the living language
And what we can learn from its refusal to die
by jordyn fitzpatrick
12 | challah.
he Jewish people have a knack for staying alive fact, there are four states of death that a language can be against all odds. We are, as the philosopher Simon in, and in all of these cases there exists still at least one Raidowicz puts it, an eternally living, ever-dying people. living speaker of said dead language. So, there is such And while Hebrew has undergone a concept in linguistics of language an impressive revival, I often still ‘death’, but it’s not really the same Language is encounter the assessment that Yiddish is, concept that people usually refer to. a tool an conversely, ‘dying’. essential tool When people say that Yiddish is I’ll let you in on a little linguistic secret, a ‘dying’ or even a ‘dead’ language, that forms the and by secret, I mean mainstream they’re usually referring to the bedrock of stance. There’s no such thing as a ‘dying’ fact that they don’t see Yiddish in communities, language. Do speakers of languages die? mainstream publications and media. nations, and Sure. Am I gravely oversimplifying this They see English, Hebrew, and others, topic? Naturally. Allow me to expand. and because they see these languages relationships, In sociolinguistics, there are three general being used more widely, they conclude but a tool states that describe how a language is that these languages are ‘healthy’. nonetheless. As a doing; maintenance, shift, and death. result, language But there’s a problem with this. Maintenance is when a language is being is whatever we continually used in a region, like English Languages aren’t living things; they in most countries where it’s spoken. don’t have feelings, or characteristics, need it to be. Language shift is the process whereby a or stages of life. Language is a tool language is falling out of widespread use - an essential tool that forms the in favour of a different language, like how Irish gave way bedrock of communities, nations, and relationships, but to English in Ireland. Language death is where a language a tool nonetheless. As a result, language is whatever we exists only in one speech community in the world. In need it to be.
www.challahmagazine.com | 13
2022 | 5782
the root of Yiddish is below, in the Jewish people and their homes. We often relate to the world through vitalistic metaphors. People can be living, thriving, flourishing, struggling, dying, or dead – and as the adage goes, we don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are. Thus, we project our own states of vitality onto language. But it doesn’t stop there - we project qualities and emotions onto language, as well. I’ve heard on many occasions, as I’m sure you have, that “French is such a romantic language”. I’ve heard people say that Russian sounds scary and harsh. At the same time, I’ve heard people say that Russian is the most beautiful and warm language they’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard people say that French sounds weird. So, we arrive at a question; what is actually happening?
Well, as it turns out, we were never assessing the languages themselves to begin with.
ourselves understand it. The second stage is how others perceive us. And there can be a schism between these two stages. For example, I could call my friend every day because, to me, that expresses my love for my friend. For my friend, this same action can be perceived as me being nosey and annoying. The tool used to express identity is just the vehicle for the expression, but what we intend to convey, and what is actually perceived, depends on who you’re talking to. Now for the Jewish and Yiddish part. Jewish membership itself is quite limited. By Orthodox halacha, you are only a Jew if you’re born to a Jewish mother or if you convert. Jewish identity, however, is massively complex. The Jewish people can be considered a religious group, an extended family, an ethnicity, a race, a culture, or a nation. Or any combination. And this is all even before you’ve taken into consideration nusach, observance levels, and so forth.
When we make value judgements about a language (whether ‘dying’, ‘romantic’, ‘harsh-sounding’, or otherwise), we are really making value judgements about its speakers because language is, primarily, a reflection of its speakers. These value judgements aren’t just descriptive, they are constitutive. When I speak of language as a tool, this includes its ability to shape, convey, and assess the identities of ourselves and others.
But with all this complexity comes one really cool conclusion: once you’re in, you’re in. And no matter how you define your Jewishness, or how you practise it, you’re ‘as much of a Jew’ as Moshe Rabbeinu. Yiddish may have been borne from Ashkenazi Jewry alone, but it has left a world-wide impression from which we can make a couple of useful generalizations.
Identity works in two main stages. The first stage is how we convey or express our personal identity as we
Primarily, a notable fact about Yiddish is that in its millennium-long history, it’s never had a ‘home country’.
14 | challah.
French has France, German has Germany, but the ‘home’ of Yiddish is the Jewish people themselves. It has travelled wherever its speakers have (both Ashkenazi and not), and was historically a compelling marker of Jewish identity. But can’t we say the same of Hebrew? The official language of all the Jewish people and their ancestral homeland? Yes and no. We know from Bereishis that Hashem spoke the world into existence using Hebrew. Pirkei Avos - Ethics of Our Fathers, a book of moral rabbinic teachings - elucidates the ten utterances that made this so. In his book, Letters of Light, Rabbi Raskin details the essence of each letter of the aleph beis and explores their infinite depth, wisdom, and value. And if we think that that’s high praise for a language, Hebrew actually can’t be any other way because, as we’ve established, language is a reflection of its speakers. And the original Speaker of Hebrew is Hashem. What this means for us is that, like the Torah, Hebrew is our inheritance, not our creation. We use it and are deeply connected to it, but we always acknowledge that the Loshn Koydesh, the ‘holy language’, comes directly from Above, and that’s why it was only used for sanctification purposes for so long. It didn’t belong ‘on the ground’, as it were. But Yiddish tells a different story. Yiddish was the language of the home. It was the language used for all aspects of life across all classes, unlike Hebrew which was reserved for holier occasions and usually required more formalized education. When families sat around the dinner table, they joked and complained and described their day in Yiddish.
Yiddish was, is, the mameloshn, the ‘mother tongue’, because the Root of the Loshn Koydesh is Above, but the root of Yiddish is below, in the Jewish people and their homes. Jews are using Yiddish every day. It may not be spoken fluently, but it’s there. What I’ve noticed is that the Yiddish words we use are so ingrained in our vernacular and have been around us for so long that we don’t perceive it as a different language. But this synthesis is part of its ‘immortality’, as it were. Yiddish has been weaved into the Jewish identities of so many Jews that it can no longer be separated.
Jordyn is an editor from Cape Town, South Africa. She completed her BA undergrad and Honours degree in Linguistics at UCT, while serving on the committee of her local SAUJS throughout her university career, and involving herself in various projects in the wider Cape Town Jewish community.
www.challahmagazine.com | 15
2022 | 5782
Reading the Akeidah with Kierkegaard.
The Silence and Complexities
Image: Ephraim Moses Lilien, Abraham und Isak, (1874-1925)
www.challahmagazine.com | 17
“(22:1) God tested Abraham and said … (2)“Please take your son, your only one, whom you love – Isaac – and go to the land of Moriah; bring him up there as an offering upon one of the mountains which I shall tell you.
(9)They arrived at the place of which God had spoken to him; Abraham built the altar there, and arranged the wood; he bound Isaac, his son, and he placed him on the altar atop the wood. (10) Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slaughter his son.
(11)And an angel of Hashem called to him from heaven, and said … (12)“Do not stretch out your hand against the lad nor do anything to him for now I know that you are a God-fearing man, since you have not withheld your son, your only one, from Me.”
“This tension between what I imagined faith would look like and the ‘faith’ I saw around me was the first glimpse I had into how much more complicated faith is than a mere avowal of belief...”
18 | challah.
t was around the age of 15 or 16 that I started to find the experience of going to synagogue quite strange. At the time, I was unsure whether I believed in God since the arguments both for and against His existence seemed equally persuasive. Although I had doubts, I never bought the idea that religious belief was borne out of weakness or ignorance (or as Freud would put it, a need for a father figure). On the contrary, I could see in many of those around me that their faith allowed them to live more ethical, compassionate, and meaningful lives. In my uncertainty towards God’s existence, I would sit in shul and wonder: what would it be like if I truly believed that this was a place where I could communicate with God? Would I be able to have light-hearted conversations with those around me? Would I be eager to get home after the service finished? While asking myself these questions I would look around and, in some, see the exact opposite of what I envisioned belief in God would look like. I’d see eyes glazed over in the habitual performance of ritual, men leaning over to chat to their friends, and, at the close of the service, a rush to put away siddurim and fold tallitot. As I hope to make clear in this article, I don’t think that it is for anyone to say whether another person does or does not have faith. Nevertheless, the question still troubled me: why didn’t they seem like they believed in God? This tension between what I imagined faith would look like and the ‘faith’ I saw around me was the first glimpse I had into how much more complicated faith is than a mere avowal of belief. These confusions and questions were somewhat clarified for me last year when I first read the writings of the 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard was a profound and passionate thinker who broke away from the conventions of his upperclass upbringing to dedicate himself fully to writing about our shared existential and religious condition. I want to focus on his 1843 book Fear and Trembling, in which he addresses the question of faith by attempting to understand Abraham through the lens of his greatest test, the Akedah, where God asked him to sacrifice Isaac. As we will see, this attempt to understand Abraham’s test is somewhat paradoxical; the closer we get to understanding it, the more we realise its inherent incomprehensibility.
Kierkegaard opens by giving us four creative retellings of none of these are the actual Abraham, what is the point the Akedah, its build up, and its aftermath. In the first of telling their story? Kierkegaard wants to argue that retelling, Isaac cannot understand why God would ask the actual Abraham is too great to comprehend, and such a terrible thing of his father and begs Abraham to therefore any conceptualisation of his struggle will not spare his life. Abraham takes him by the hand, soothes touch what he went through in reality. Therefore, if and comforts him with his words, and leads him up the we wish to speak of Abraham at all we have no other mountain in Moriah. Then, at the last second, when option but to reduce him to a lesser form. Abraham turns away to draw the knife, his face changes, contorted into an expression of anger. He cries “You Each sub-Abraham is what Kierkegaard calls a ‘knight believe God wants me to of resignation’, someone who sacrifice you! This is my own What would it be like to ride home from is willing to give up any of desire! I am an idolater!”. their possessions or loved Moriah, that three-day long journey, Isaac is terrified and, turning ones in service of the sacred. with your son that you were seconds to the sky, prays for God But implicit in each of their away from having killed? Would you be actions is their belief that God to save him from his father. At the end Abraham thanks would actually expect them to able to look him in the eye? God while adding quietly, so sacrifice Isaac; otherwise, how that Isaac cannot hear him, can we explain the fist clenched “it is, after all, better that he believe I am a monster than in anguish, the joy leaving him forever after, or the that he lose faith in Thee.” sudden change in his expression to make Isaac fear him? Abraham went one step further, in that whilst The other three retellings are similarly unusual. The being prepared to sacrifice what was dearest to him he first two focus on the traumatic effect the Akedah has simultaneously trusted that God would not make him on Abraham and Isaac, respectively. In the first, we hear carry out the sacrifice. How do we know that he had that after the event Abraham “saw joy no more” as he such a trust in God? Put yourself in Abraham’s shoes “could not forget that God had demanded this of him”. for a minute. Perhaps, if called upon by God to make In the second, the moment he draws his knife Abraham such a sacrifice, you would be willing to go through clenches his other fist in anguish and a shudder runs with it. Try to picture that moment when, having tied through his body. Isaac, seeing through this moment of your son to the altar, you hear the voice from above and hesitation into the internal conflict of his father, loses realise that you will not need to sacrifice your son after his faith forever. In the final retelling we see Abraham all. What would it be like to ride home from Moriah, return to the site of the Akedah many weeks later, that three-day long journey, with your son that you were struggling with the question of whether it was a sin or seconds away from having killed? Would you be able to not to have been willing to sacrifice his son. look him in the eye? Would you be able to love him as you did before? Perhaps after a while, but to forget that These retellings are, on the surface, totally different you almost sacrificed him would take time and effort. to the impression we get of the story as it is told in the Torah, to the extent that they could even seem It is precisely this struggle to rekindle his love for Isaac blasphemous. However, Kierkegaard is not trying to that is reflected in the second of the sub-Abrahams, give an account of the actual Akedah; after all, the where Kierkegaard writes that after the Akedah “Isaac Torah has done that job well enough. Instead, these throve as before; but Abraham’s eye was darkened”. But four Abrahams should be thought of – to use Lippitt’s none of this is true for the actual Abraham. On the terminology – as ‘sub-Abrahams’. Each sub-Abraham contrary, we can see that he “received Isaac back with was willing to sacrifice his son without questioning joy, really heartfelt joy, that he needed no preparation, God’s command but, for reasons that will become clear no time to adjust himself ”(p.40). In this respect later on, none reach the spiritual heights attained by Abraham differs from each of the sub-Abrahams. the actual Abraham. This leaves open the question: If Although he was willing to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham 20 | challah.
trusted God’s benevolence so much that he knew Hashem would not make him go through with the act. Since a person’s actions reveal whether they are willing to give up all worldly attachments or not, we can identify a ‘knight of resignation’ from the outside. However, the jump from here to the ‘knight of faith’ is purely internal since it hinges on our beliefs, not our actions. Therefore, for Kierkegaard, one’s commitment to faith is hidden from anyone else. Not only is it hidden, but such a ‘leap of faith’ is inconceivable to anyone who is not experiencing it, as it is clearly paradoxical to believe you will receive something back while simultaneously giving it away. It is this essential inconceivability that shows that each sub-Abraham is lesser than the actual one. Each of their stories are somewhat comprehensible – they
We speak to make ourselves understood, and since the leap of faith is incomprehensible to anyone who is not making it, it cannot be spoken of. represent a plausible response that someone put in that situation would have – and for this reason their actions, while admirable, are not that of the ‘knight of faith’. Ramban writes that “the Torah scroll of God is perfect, it has neither a superfluous nor a missing letter.” That there is no ‘missing letter’ means that even the spaces between the words in the Torah are pregnant with meaning. The words left unwritten are as deliberate as those which are written and, therefore, their absence is really a hidden presence. Some unwritten details, such as Abraham’s internal state throughout the Akedah, are – necessarily – unsayable, and it is this fundamentally ineffable aspect of the story to which Kierkegaard draws our attention. This omission in the Torah’s narrative is mirrored within the story itself, in the form of Abraham’s own silence. He doesn’t argue with or question God’s command to sacrifice Isaac; a silence that is all the more deafening since earlier in the same Parasha we see him pleading with God not to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Not only is he silent towards God, he does
not tell Sarah, Isaac, or his servants what he is intending to do. This silence, along with the one ambiguous comment he makes to Isaac that “God will seek out for Himself the lamb for the offering”(Bereishit, 22:8), is not intended to mislead or deceive those around him. It is not that Abraham chose not to speak, but that he could not speak. We speak to make ourselves understood, and since the leap of faith is incomprehensible to anyone who is not making it, it cannot be spoken of. At this point you may think that this observation seems pretty contradictory from a philosopher who has just dedicated an entire book to writing about Abraham’s faith. However, Kierkegaard does not write in order to make Abraham more intelligible to us, but “in order that his unintelligibility might be seen more”(p.137). I had a similar intention in mind when writing this article – I didn’t want to reduce or explain the story of the Akedah as much as reveal its inherent complexity. The philosopher Bertrand Russell once wrote that “The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it”, and I think something similar applies here. Philosophy has the ability to show us that many of the concepts we ordinarily use - such as the concept of faith – are, on closer inspection, far richer and more complex than they first appear. When we consider more closely what faith is by viewing it through the paradigmatic example of Abraham, we see that faith is far more than just stating one’s belief in God. It is a commitment that is shown through one’s actions, a commitment that can never be fully expressed in language. Adhering to customs, rules, and traditions are all ways to express and increase one’s love for and connection with God; but, ultimately, the leap of faith is one that must be made silently. Joseph is an undergraduate studying Maths and Philosophy at Warwick University. In the past couple of years he’s been leaning more towards the philosophical aspects of his degree, and is currently most interested in questions about the limits of what can be expressed in language and how, if at all, we can transcend these limits. He hopes one day to become an academic to pursue these interests further, and hopefully engage more in philosophy teaching and outreach to encourage others to reflect more upon their lives.
www.challahmagazine.com | 21
encoute n r
2022 | 5782
Jacob Ang wrestling with ourselves
Image: Jacob Epstein, Giacobbe e l’angelo, 1940-41, Alabastro 22 | challah.
2022 | 5782
gel Jade Isaacs
www.challahmagazine.com | 23
acob’s wrestling with the angel is one of the most well-known Biblical scenes in popular art and culture. From Jacob Epstein and Paul Gaugin to bell hooks and Sheila Heti, this story has inspired many artists and writers. Jacob’s wrestling has personal resonance for me as well, as I have come to see my life in more complex terms and ‘wrestling’ with conflicting ideals or expectations has become an apt metaphor. The story of Jacob and the angel is one of internal and external struggles, the moments when we are forced to confront what we have been hiding from. It articulates a sense of angst and existential crisis, often associated with a stereotypically Jewish anxiety. However, it also represents a more universal struggle with our bodies and our minds, one that can be both uncomfortable and surprisingly intimate. The story of Jacob wrestling with the angel appears relatively early in the parshah but emerges from a context of pre-existing tensions and conflicts. At the beginning of Parshat Vayishlach, Jacob is in a state of fear and distress when he hears that his brother Esau is approaching with four hundred men, after years of estrangement since he stole Esau’s birthright. The parshah states that “in his anxiety” Jacob divided his camp in half so that if Esau attacked one camp, the other could escape. This positions Jacob as an anxious character, whose fear of the worst consequences leads him to pre-emptively take steps to protect himself from future danger. This desire to avoid conflict has already led him to delay fulfilling God’s instruction to “Return to your land and to your birthplace”. Avivah Zornberg, drawing on her often
psychoanalytic approach to Biblical interpretation in her book Genesis: The Beginnings of Desire, argues that the overarching theme of Vayishlach is Jacob’s desire for wholeness – his wish for completion by 24 | challah.
returning to the past and reconciling with his brother, but simultaneously a frustrated need for control over an uncertain present. Jacob’s unease with his reality reflects the cognitive distortion at the root of anxiety – a lack of acceptance of life’s imperfections and the expectation that things should be otherwise. In this way, Jacob can be seen to embody the stereotype of Jewish anxiety. Daniel Smith argues that the trope of Jewish anxiety is an object of both “the anti-Semitic imagination of Jewish inferiority” and “Jewish self-congratulation” over our own intellectual ability and achievement, in his article ‘Do the Jews Own Anxiety?’. An antisemitic interpretation could frame Jacob’s cerebral character as an inferior counterpart to a more masculine virility – a dynamic that shaped his relationship with his brother Esau, but also one that structures a harmful dichotomy between Jews and gentiles. A more celebratory reading (which Smith shows has been posited by Jews themselves) positions anxiety as the necessary consequence of a developed intellect and scepticism, the supposed key to Jewish excellence. However, at this point in his life, Jacob does not celebrate his ruminative tendencies but rather feels a sense of guilt or regret at his inaction, saying “I have become small from all the kindnesses and from all the truth” that God has given him. Jacob suffers under his failure to act on the vow to return to his birthplace. His paralysis is compounded by a sense of being preceded, as the second-born twin and the last of the forefathers. This counters the intertwining of genius and anxiety so prevalent in analyses of Jewish success, showing that the weight of ancestral legacy can be immobilising as well as inspiring. The story of Jacob wrestling with the angel is therefore striking as it throws the thoughtful Jacob into action. Jacob often chooses to defer and delay, to hang back and plan his next move. This encounter forces Jacob to confront his inaction. The interaction is cryptic,
encoute n r
the weight of ancestral legacy can be mobilising as well as inspiring.
www.challahmagazine.com | 25
with Jacob’s assailant revealed to be not, as first described, a man, but an angel, who refuses to tell Jacob their name. The nature of the wrestling between these two figures is also ambiguous. This is a passionate, if not violent, encounter, involving an all-night struggle that exhausts both participants as they fight to prevail over the other. There is an intimacy in that struggle too, due to the inherent physical closeness of wrestling, and in the moment where the angel dislocates Jacob’s hip socket. In rabbinic interpretations, this injury is often explicitly linked to sexual reproduction, such as R. Chanaya bar Yitzhak’s assertion that the angel was touching the future generations that would descend from Jacob and be persecuted in the future. Jacob’s later embrace with Esau contains the same potential for both love and hatred – a longing for each other and the ‘missing half ’ of their childhood, and a resentment stemming from the favouritism – and then betrayal – of that upbringing. Some interpretations even argue that the figure that Jacob wrestled with was Esau’s guardian angel. R. Hama b. R. Hanina suggests that this is alluded to later in the parshah when Jacob says to Esau “because I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of an angel”. In this framing, the wrestling acts as a means of working out the difficulties in the brothers’ relationship in advance of their meeting. The angel mirrors Jacob’s dread and fear about confronting Esau but the struggle enables Jacob to cultivate a radical empathy towards his brother, engaging with him (or at least his angel representative) as an equal partner.
There is therefore a clear mental and spiritual intimacy in the encounter, as well as a physical one. The wrestling between the figures ends
26 | challah.
with the angel renaming Jacob as Israel, because “you have striven with beings divine and human, and have prevailed”. This asserts the importance of struggle in both spiritual and earthly relationships, in order to enable personal transformation. However, the end of the narrative implies that this is not a complete moment of change for Jacob, as it finishes with Jacob limping on his hip, still marked by his injury during the night. Bell Hooks analyses Jacob’s injury by the angel in the final chapter of All About Love, as part of the book’s meditation on love as a sacred practice with social importance. While she initially read the woundedness in the story as negative, her later experiences taught her that embracing our woundedness is necessary for healing and spiritual growth. In the final image of Jacob limping away, we are left with the impression that Jacob has been forced to contend with his desire for control and his guilt towards his past, but he will never fully achieve the resolution he aspires to.
“ in the mixture of horror and fascination directed at Epstein’s ‘primitive’ sculpture, we see the social response to the ‘primitive’ in ourselves, the bare humanity exposed in struggle.” As a Biblical narrative, Jacob wrestling with the angel has captured many artists’ imaginations. While it may fit well into the preoccupations of the ‘struggling artist’, it is more broadly an image that resonates with the conflicts of human experience. Jacob Epstein’s sculpture Jacob and the Angel (1940-1) embodies both these appeals. When I saw the sculpture at Tate Britain last year, its abstract shapes and
interlocked arms meant I had to walk around the entire work before I had a flash of recognition. Another reason why it took me a while to identify the sculpture was that it depicts the encounter between Jacob and the angel as more of an embrace than a struggle. The figure of the angel, indicated through large alabaster slabs of wings, has his arms wrapped around Jacob’s upper back and his knees bent, suggesting he is lifting Jacob up or at least keeping him upright. Jacob slumps exhausted in the angel’s embrace, indicated by his large arms dangling with loose wrists. There is a strange intimacy between the two figures, rather than the aggression that might be imagined. The strangeness is exacerbated by both figures being surprisingly solid and substantial, compared to more conventional depictions where the angel in particular is portrayed as ethereal. This kind of epic scale reinforces the idea that this is a physical and bodily interaction, as much as a divine one. The unorthodox style of Jacob and the Angel and Jacob Epstein’s other religiously inspired sculptures led to his own struggle for recognition from the British art establishment. As an American Jew, he was an outsider, and contravened typical, Christian artistic conventions in his depiction of religious subject matter. The British public’s perception of his sculptures as monstrous or grotesque may also be traced to Epstein’s inspiration by non-Western ‘primitive’ art, indicating a wider societal prejudice against the cultural other. Public commentary at the time of Jacob and the Angel’s exhibition, like the Daily Mail headline in 1942 ‘Is this a miracle or a monstrosity?’, questioned its value and framed it as controversial. This led the sculpture to be displayed in seaside ‘sensational’ shows and waxworks for years, rather than in the world of ‘high art’. The exhibition of Jacob and the Angel at Blackpool promenade was even advertised on signs as ‘Adults Only’, positioning it as explicit and sexual. The controversy and sensationalism generated by Jacob Epstein’s Jacob and the Angel in the 1940s reflects both the aversion to, and appeal of, possibilities for the erotic
in this narrative. This is not just intimacy and eroticism in a sexual sense – although commentators like Simon Hallonsten have read the wrestling as a sexual act – but also as closeness and vitality, expressed in raw and sometimes surprising ways. The suggestion in Epstein’s sculpture that Jacob could be embraced by the angel already challenges traditional notions of masculinity and strength in its exposure of Jacob’s human vulnerability. In the mixture of horror and fascination directed at Epstein’s ‘primitive’ sculpture, we see the social response to the ‘primitive’ in ourselves, the bare humanity exposed in struggle. Responses to the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel and its artistic depictions therefore demonstrate its unique capacity to open up discussion of psychological and spiritual complexities. My original reading of this narrative was that the wrestling represents the kind of existential angst and crisis that constitutes anxiety. However, exploring its scholarly and artistic interpretations revealed to me that this anxiety is more acutely captured in Jacob’s inaction before the event. If spiritual, relational or mental struggles are tied to inaction or passivity, then they need to be addressed through their confrontation. As Bell Hooks writes of Jacob and the angel in All About Love, “Constructive confrontation aids our healing” but she acknowledges the continual challenges and work required of this endeavour. This wrestling will not achieve completion or wholeness- as the sun rises, Jacob still limps- but it promises possibilities for transformation.
Jade Isaacs is a fourth year university student, studying Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester and currently on a year abroad at University of California Berkeley. Jade was part of the Manchester Universities JSOC committee for her first three years of university and continues to be involved in Jewish student life in Berkeley. She enjoys using her skills in cultural analysis to think and write about Judaism in all its diverse forms.
www.challahmagazine.com | 27
encoute n r
2022 | 5782
The story of a group processing intergenerational Jewish trauma...a space for collective witnessing among Jews.
Image: Angelus Novus (1920) Paul Klee
e meet once a month online. A group of ten Jews not coming together to pray but rather to delve deeply into the impact of our shared history. We decided to call our group Angels of History in reference to the iconic painting by Paul Klee (featured here) entitled Angelus Novus (1920). The Jewish cultural critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin commented that the painting “shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread. This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet [...] The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress”. As founders and facilitators of this group, Alex Eisenberg, Lea Misan, and I were motivated to start the Angels of History group in order to examine this wreckage which keeps piling up inside of us, in our communities and in the world. Benjamin evokes the deep interconnectedness of historical events and their continued impact on us. We wanted to explore this in a personal way by gathering together a group of Jews who feel that the enormity of Jewish history impacting their lives needs to be unfolded in community. We work through the lens of process-oriented psychology, guiding the group through exercises that support them to connect with their ancestors, their bodies, their early dreams. Process-oriented psychology is an awarenessbased paradigm developed by Arnold Mindell (an American Jew from NYC) that sprung out of Jungian psychology. Jung’s emphasis on the collective unconscious is something that we delve into in our group. We offer a lot
of space for sharing how world issues such as antisemitism and Israel-Palestine are affecting the members of the group. We allow for the messiness of the many viewpoints inside of us to be explored. Each session often opens up tender and revelatory moments. We offer a space for collective witnessing among Jews. We have seen tears as one person in the group feels what it is like to just sit with a group of Jews when at other times they actively seek to avoid Jews for fear of being too visible. We have seen how one member feels that they hold the tension of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in their body. We have heard how many people had early childhood dreams of hiding, being kidnapped, being killed. Even with all the advances in human rights, internalised antisemitism still leads members of the group to feel that they are “too much”, “too loud” or that something needs to be hidden. One member of the group says that doing this processing in Angels of History has allowed them to feel confident to speak openly about being Jewish. Another says they have been able to contact their former school and report antisemitic abuse they faced from other students. We hope that this work will allow us to process the ways in which our history affects us. Becoming more articulate about how our history affects us also enables us to make choices about how we show up for other groups facing persecution and marginalisation, in particular anti-Black racism and antiPalestinian racism. We want to be able to freely know our baggage so that we are not passing the outdated survival patterns on to the next generation. We want to do this work so that progress is not a storm of wreckage, but rather a sea of expansive possibility stretching out towards the horizon. We want to acknowledge the wounds of the past to make space for a more aware future. If you are interested in joining this group please contact email@example.com
www.challahmagazine.com | 29
encoute n r
2022 | 5782
30 | challah.
Cow There is a wind in the air as there usually is except this time my door is closed and I’m thinking of You, God, and You, again, and what I will bring to give You. There are potatoes in the cupboard and beansprouts in the freezer. And when I saw on the train, travelling South-East, from North-West, the cows were sitting down, and the red ones, especially, stood out in the scenery. I thought of friends I knew at school who I don’t know anymore. The music in my ears was violin. There are people who you know but you don’t know anymore. Time never stops for a minute. There was one black cow walking away. No other cows noticed as the bridge was approaching. This is how easy it is to leave things behind. It’s raining and confusing, white seagulls there against the black sky. And the trains meet up at Camden, going North and going South and they share notes on the country like starlings pirouetting. The graffiti wasn’t like this back in my day. I went to shul, again, this morning, before I started writing. Oh, God, now everyone knows our secret words. Now everyone sings from our book and knows You just like I do. So what do we have, Hashem, between just You and I, besides the one cow alone walking away from it all, besides the trains that I’ve been taking and the people that we knew, and being here alone and surrounded by people. Besides the crashing of the waves, and the carrots in the cupboard and the confusion when You arrive in front of me and the rain and the glimpse. What do we have, Hashem, besides us?
-anonymous illustration by Eliav Cohen Benchabo www.challahmagazine.com | 31
e cr ator sptoligh
2022 | 5782
Black Cat Judaica 32 | challah.
Practicing Judaism in the diaspora can present as many challenges as it does opportunities. In rural Vermont, for example, finding 10 Jews to make a minyan requires a fair amount of foresight and planning. On the other hand, there are enough sheep farms dotting the landscape that a tallit maker has no trouble finding wool to spin tzitzit. Raw materials for tallitot are abundantly available near the farm that Nelly and Ira of Black Cat Judaica call home. Wool and dyes, as well as local small scale industry (and most importantly, inspiration) can be found near at hand. All of the textiles made at Black Cat Judaica are woven by hand on 18th-19th century looms. Even these looms are a product of place. Each one was made from trees that grew nearby, built in bygone centuries for the specific purpose of weaving household fabrics, worn and aged by the same elements that weather the landscape. BCJ tallitot bear the unique characteristics of fabrics woven on such looms, in such an environment. Black Cat Judaica celebrates Jewish life in the diaspora. Each piece that comes off the loom is a testament to thriving as a stranger in a strange land. Each piece is infused with counter-cultural perseverance. The realities of the diaspora experience inform all aspects of the business, right down to the price system. The harmful, antisemitic stereotype of Jewish wealth has been internalized in many Jewish circles. This means that working class Jews are often deprived of “quintessential” Jewish experiences and opportunities due to financial barriers.
Black Cat Judaica hopes to help remove some if those barriers by offering a pay-what-you can pricing system for all of their products. Black Cat Judaica rejects the notion that diaspora Judaism is a less legitimate form of Judaism, and hopes that their products will help cultivate a vibrant Jewish world beyond Israel. They would rather fight for Jewish safety and liberation everywhere than accept Jewish safety in one place. Black Cat Judaica is committed to combating the injustices of racism and colonialism at home, as well as those overseas. In their small way, they hope to affirm the Jewishness of Jews worldwide, no matter their background, financial status, or location.
Black Cat Judaica has a small inventory of premade Judaica, and they also take custom orders. They specialize in tallitot, but they also make challah cloths, kippot, al netilat towels, Torah mantles, and more. They also take commissions for special projects. Their stock items are handwoven with the same care and kavanah as custom items. Visit their website, blackcatjudaica.com, to order and learn more. For custom orders, contact them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow them on Instagram @black.cat.judaica to keep up with the latest news. Black Cat Judaica would love to work with you to create the perfect addition to your Jewish practice, what ever shape it takes!
www.challahmagazine.com | 33
e cr ator sptoligh
2022 | 5782
his recipe was surprisingly more of a challenge than I initially
thought! The one ingredient that needs replacing in Challah is the egg. Not only is it included in the dough, enriching the final product with fat and a slight yellow hue, but it’s also essential to get the shiny finish on the top of the loaf.
In order to get the soft, enriched texture that the egg usually provides, I opted to utilise the ‘tangzhong’ method. This is essentially making a paste of flour and water, and heating it to gelatinise the starches, and consequently lock in the water. It was so successful, in fact, that my first attempt ended up way too soft and rich from the oil as well (this has a similar effect on the texture); combined with a little too much sugar, it tasted more like a dessert bread. I toned it down for the final recipe, still leaving it delightfully soft and rich. It was a struggle not to eat the whole loaf right out of the oven! For that brown and shiny top, I opted for another food that turns brown and shiny when heated – sugar! Mixing it with soy milk dilutes it, so it doesn’t turn into straight up caramel and burn, but also adds some protein, hopefully mimicking the properties of an egg wash a little more. So if you’re opting for a more plantbased Shabbat, or like me, never have eggs lying around, this challah recipe is the closest imitation I’ve tasted or seen that will leave the challah-eaters none the wiser. Enjoy on its own, with salt or, my favourite, with a big spoon of homemade peanut butter. For in depth instructions on kneading and shaping challah, check out my original recipe from the first issue of Challah.
www.challahmagazine.com | 35
e cr ator sptoligh
2022 | 5782
INGREDIENTS FOR TWO MEDIUM CHALLOT
FOR THE TANGZHONG
FOR THE DOUGH Strong Bread Flour
FOR THE GLAZE
Vegetable Oil Water
Strong Bread Flour
Turmeric (for colour, optional)
36 | challah.
small pinch! 60 ml (1/4 cup) 100g
1tbsp soy milk maple syrup/honey/agave Sesame/poppy seeds (optional)
1 tbsp 1 tsp
e cr ator sptoligh
Mix together the flour and water in a small saucepan until there are no lumps. Heat on a low flame, stirring with a spatula the whole time, until the mixture thickens into a thick paste. Take off the heat, pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool.
he d o u t r h .. Fo
Mix together all the dry ingredients except the yeast, and stir together until well combined. Add the yeast and the oil. Mix the water with the tangzhong, and pour into the dry mix, mixing to form a shaggy dough.
Knead on an un-floured work surface (will seem quite wet to begin with), or with a stand mixer with a dough hook for ~10 minutes, or until you get a positive window-pane test. Place into a large, greased bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough, divide and shape. Place on a lined baking sheet, and cover. Leave to prove in a warm place for 45-60mins. In the last 10 minutes or so, preheat the oven to 170C fan.
Mix the milk with the maple syrup, and brush the challot liberally. Place in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then brush again with the glaze and top with seeds if desired. Place back in the oven for 10-15mins, or until a deep golden brown.
www.challahmagazine.com | 37
challah. a new read on jewish life for jews, by young jews email@example.com © 2022, Challah Magazine. All Rights Reserved.