“There will be days when we feel fully risen and expansive and up to facing life’s most difficult challenges, and we will gaze at our lovely fat challahs with pride.” –Author Rochie Pinson, “Rising: The Book of Challah”

For many people, this pandemic has been a time of overwhelming loneliness and paralyzing isolation. But the Jewish Federation of Howard County has found a way to bring people together with its upcoming “Great Zoom Challah Bake.”

This year’s event, scheduled to take place virtually on Sunday, Nov.15, starting at 5 p.m., is the federation’s sixth annual “Challah Bake,” but first one virtually.

“It’s really this huge world of possibilities because it means [the event] is no longer locational, so friends and family from all over are able to join local participants,” said Shauna Leavey, the federation’s program director.


Given the nature of the pandemic, baking and socializing with hundreds of people in a room together is obviously not the safest idea. But the federation was not swayed and converted its popular program into a virtual one, and in doing so opened it up to a wider audience.

Rather than an all-women’s event, this year’s “Challah Bake” is for anyone from anywhere around world. Leavey said families spread across the country plan to come together to meet in their own breakout rooms to simulate the approximately 25 tables of roughly 10 people that usually come to the annual event.

Students and teachers will join in the fun, too, said Leavey. “We even have a religious school class coming and participating together from one of the local congregations,” she said. The students will be in a breakout room with their teacher, she said, allowing for a baking/Jewish learning hybrid class.

For information, visit https://www.jewishhowardcounty.org/challahbake. The registration fee is $18, with additional fees for baking kits if you do not already have the ingredients at home.

Gillian Blum is Jmore’s editorial intern.