Every week Ray bakes bread in the kitchen of Congregation Beth Shalom in
“For fifty years I was married to the most wonderful woman in the world,” says the 85-year-old Ray with a glint in his eye. “Every Friday she would make fresh challah for our evening meal, and every week the kids would tell her, ‘Mom, this is the best challah you’ve ever made.’ This went on for 30 or 40 years.”
Twelve years ago Frieda passed away and left Ray broken-hearted. He shuffled around for the next several months grieving and feeling sorry for himself, until the day he decided to do something about it. He looked around and spotted her recipe box in the kitchen.
“I wondered if there was something in there that I could make that would help me feel close to her,” says Ray. “I came across her challah recipe and thought, ‘This is it.’”
He knew how to cook, but had never baked anything, not even a box cake. He went to the store, gathered all the ingredients, and gave it a go. The bread turned out perfectly.
“So, I started to bake. And I felt like she was right there helping me.”
Ray was active in his synagogue in
Fortunately for the folks at Beth Shalom, Ray moved to
“If it weren’t for this bread, I’d be a tottering old man,” he laughs as he leans over and pulls another four loves out of the oven.
After it cools, the bread is sealed in bags and labeled with a sticker that proudly reads, “Frieda’s Heavenly Challah”.
And it tastes like heaven. I got a warm sample right out of the oven, and I brought a loaf home for lunch. Between Jeni and me, we ate more than half of it. If you’re in the neighborhood, drop by and buy some for yourself. Ray will thank you and Frieda will bless you.
Footnote: Many thanks to Judy Jacks Berman (the groovin’ director) and the awesome staff and rockin’ kids at Beth Shalom's