An Original Blessing for the Custom of “Taking Challah” at a Time of Pandemic

By Adva Chattler


The traditional mitzvah of hafrashat challah ("taking" or "separating" challah) refers to removing and burning a small piece of challah dough as a symbolic offering before baking (some people throw away that piece instead of burning). In the time of the ancient temple in Jerusalem, the Israelites would give challah as an offering to the kohanim (priests). This mitzvah created a connection between groups of people who had separate roles in society, and brought holiness to a mundane act. Today, as many of us are in isolation due to COVID-19, we can perform this mitzvah of "taking" challah as a way to connect us to the wider community that we are temporarily separated from.

Download a challah recipe below.


Blessed may you be, loved ones –
Distant or close by,
Safely guarded in my heart but far apart.
Like a braided challah we are bounded together,
In this strange reality of fear and confusion.
Let us go back to the beginning,
To the simple and fundamental,
To comfort and healing,
To warmth and love and care.
I take this challah today with a hope for a better tomorrow,
With a wish for a healthy and strong future,
For us all.

,ברוכים תהיו, אהוביי
,קרובים ורחוקים
.נצורים בליבי אך הרחק מהישג ידי
כחלה קלועה אנו שלובים יחדיו
.במציאות חדשה של בלבול, פחד וחרדה
,לרגע, בואו נשוב אל ההתחלה
,אל הפשוט והמוכר
,אל הנוחות החמימה
.אל האהבה
,אני מפרישה חלה זו היום בתקווה להאיר את המחר בתפילה
.לעתיד של רפואה שלמה ואיתנה


Holding the piece of challah, say the blessing:

בָּרוּך אַתָּה יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֱלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶר קִדְּשֳנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ לְהַפְרִישׁ חַלָּה מִן הָעִסָּה

Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hafreesh challah min ha’eesah.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with commandments, and commanded us to separate challah.

Hold the piece of dough and say “harei zo challah” (This is challah).

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