Baking Challah, With a Twist

Left over middle, under right. Right under middle, over left. It may not sound like conventional academics—but that’s only because it isn’t. Ninth grade Jewish Studies students at Gann Academy recently concluded an experience-based unit about Judaism and food by baking challah. There was one extra twist though: the challah was baked entirely from scratch.

“We could have started with flour in a bag, but a big part of this was also trying to help our students understand that flour doesn’t come from the store or from a bag,” explained Noah Weinberg, Jewish Life Coordinator. Instead, Gann students threshed, winnowed, and ultimately ground their own flour from wheat berries, in a process that was eye-opening for students.

For Arielle ’23, the experience was also a lesson in mindfulness. “Grinding my own flour made me realize how time-consuming and difficult making challah can be,” she said. “It was really special that we were able to eat what we had worked so hard to make.” Jewish Studies teacher Rabbi Hillel Greene agreed, adding that he “loved seeing the students connect to the tradition of challah baking, its history, and the spiritual weight it can carry.”

This year, students used wheat grown on Eden Village Camp Farm, an organic Jewish farm camp in the Hudson Valley. In future years, students will grow and harvest wheat from the Gann Farm to use with this unit.
 
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