Finally, a fund-raising idea that’s not half-baked.
Students from a small day school in western Massachusetts this week made a challah that will go on display at an agricultural festival, then enter the Guinness Book of World Records.
The “Challah of Fame” is 40 feet long and weighs 120 pounds.
About a foot longer than the twisted bread from Poland now recognized by the Guinness authorities, the braided challah of the Solomon Schechter School of the Pioneer Valley, in Northampton, is part of a $2.1 million capital campaign, with contributions matched 50 cents on the dollar by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, for the school’s new three-story building.
“We had a really big challenge” to raise the remaining $600,000, says Jennifer Luddy, development director of the eight-year-old school [www.ssdspv.org]. “We’re a fairly small, working-class Jewish community.
“This project was a way of installing some fun into what we’re trying to do — to showcase our school,” Luddy says. Local businesses are giving grants to the project; individuals are making donations by the inch.
Five sixth-graders — the entire graduating class in the school’s highest grade — helped make the challah on Wednesday at Bernardino’s Bakery in Chicopee, Mass., the largest kosher bakery in western Massachusetts. The finished product weighs about 20 pounds and provides about 400 slices.
After being exhibited for a day at the Harvest New England Kitchen & Exhibit in West Springfield, an annual agricultural festival, the challah will be donated to charity, Luddy says. “We’ll cut it up and we’ll give it to some places that can use it.”
Challah, which symbolizes the sacrifices offered by the priests in Jerusalem’s ancient Temples, “is so tied into Jewish history,” she says.
Guinness’ record for a twisted bread was set three years ago in Kielce, Poland, a city known in Jewish circles as the site of the most bloody anti-Jewish pogrom after World War II.
Only a handful of Jews now live there; the city’s record holder was a plain twist bread, not a challah.
“We’re putting the Jewish twist on it,” Luddy says. “It says a lot about Jewish survival.”