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Staff photo by Wyatt Massey / Aaron Parker takes a challah off the shelf of the B'nai Zion store on Sept 25.
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Challah sales

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Students grabbed loaves of bread off the wooden shelves, counting each product in Hebrew before handing the bread to customers.

Ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, students of B'nai Zion's Hebrew school are practicing their language skills by selling challahs. The shop also sells cards for the Jewish holiday.

Ella Sadoff said she enjoyed creating the store for the synagogue.

"Setting up was really, really fun," the 7-year-old said. "We got to organize the cards and put things in the basket and put stuff on the shelf."

Sadoff's favorite type of challah is plain, she said. Customers could order one of three options — plain, raisin and apple. Challah for Rosh Hashanah typically includes raisins to sweeten the bread, symbolizing a sweet new year. The challah is also dipped in honey during Rosh Hashanah meals for the same reason, as are apples.

Aaron Parker, 7, said his favorite part of running the store was selling the products.

Randi Weiss, who teaches the four students in the first and second grade class at Beit Sefer Ivri, said the children came up with the idea for the store. Two fathers from the congregation, George Fine and Jeff Weiss, constructed the wooden shelves and benches, she said.

"What was one thing we could do that would be fun that the kids could learn Hebrew?" Weiss said. "And this is what we decided."

Rabbi Susan Tendler baked nearly 50 challahs in the synagogue's kitchen to fill the order. The students baked a few of the challahs, wrapping the dough into a round shape, before letting it rise and baking it. The dough for challah for Rosh Hashanah is not braided like it typically is. Instead, the dough is rolled into a circle to symbolize the cycle of the year.

There are not many local options for members of the Jewish community to buy challah, Tendler said. While the baking added even more to her to-do list ahead of the holiday, the store is an excellent learning opportunity, Tendler said.

"Doing it here was a way to connect the kids to the symbols and get them excited about the holidays," she said.

Rosh Hashanah begins the evening of Sept. 29 and runs through Sept. 30 or Oct. 1, depending on the Jewish denomination.

From the reporter

I became a journalist to help people see people as people. But highlighting the human side of every policy decision, and how it is affecting your community, takes time as well as support from readers. If you believe in telling the stories of people in your community, please subscribe to the Times Free Press today. Contact me at wmassey@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6249. Find me on Twitter at @News4Mass.

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