How Baking Challah Became a Surprising Source of Hope After Election Day – Kveller
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How Baking Challah Became a Surprising Source of Hope After Election Day

November 9 was an emotional day for many of my friends. As I walked into my daughter’s preschool, I overheard a group of moms discussing how upset they were about the victory of Donald Trump. That’s why I wasn’t surprised that the daily “classroom recap” email sent by my daughter’s teacher mentioned how several of the children in the class came to school expressing how sad their parents were about the election results.

My daughter is lucky to have an excellent teacher who turned the election into an appropriate and effective study of candy. She used this lesson to demonstrate to the children that it’s OK to like different types of candy than some of their classmates. She also went on to discuss that it is so important that we teach our children that it’s OK to not always win (even if this is a huge loss to some).

I made a conscious decision not to log onto Facebook this week as I did not want to see all of the negativity spreading around before and after the election. What will be will be and I need to show my children that I, as a Jewish American, am resilient and optimistic about what our country is capable of being.

This November 9 also happened to be the Great Challah Bake at The Baltimore Convention Center. Last year, I dreamed of bringing my daughter with me, but she was too young. This year, she was probably also a bit too young (a few months shy of 4), but I decided that I would push back her 7 o’clock bedtime to 8:30 and take her anyway. I also asked my mother to join us in making challah. Skeptical, my mother agreed, as she isn’t much of a baker and going downtown on a weeknight to make challah wasn’t exactly her cup of tea, but she said she would do it for me.

As we arrived at the Baltimore Convention Center, my mom kept commenting on how many women were walking in with us. I told her to just wait until she walks into the room where the event was happening — she wouldn’t believe it! A room filled with almost 4,000 Jewish women! What a sight! My daughter’s eyes were equally wide with excitement. Looking around curiously, she asked me if there would be any girls her age there. Of course there would be, I assured her, even if they weren’t her classmates.

I recall walking into the gigantic room filled with blue aprons, different generations of women and young girls, and thousands of pounds of ingredients just waiting at the tables for the bakers to arrive. I had a different feeling growing inside of me: I felt hopeful, that no matter who any of these women voted for, no matter how disappointed or happy they were with the results of the election, none of that mattered now. These women were smiling, laughing, and having fun! As the night went on and our dough was rising, many women and children began filling the space in between the hundreds of tables by dancing. Dancing in small groups, dancing in large groups, just dancing! The dancing was contagious and before I knew it, my skeptical mother, daughter, and I were jumping up and down doing moves I didn’t know we could do.

There was no one complaining, no sadness present. Just joy. The Challah Bake couldn’t have happened on a better day. With the demonstrations against Trump going on all over the country, we, the Jewish women of Baltimore, got to demonstrate our love for Judaism, our love for family, and our love for one another. Even if it was for only a few hours, it was the exact dose of medicine that our community needed.

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