What started four years ago in South Africa has turned into a global phenomenon – and both Minneapolis and St. Paul are eagerly taking part.
The Great Big Challah Bake, part of The Shabbat Project, is taking place in both cities next week as the weekend of Oct. 27 has been designated as the dates for this year’s Shabbat Project.
Rebbetzins Adina Cohen and Giti Fredman are spearheading the Minneapolis event, which has more than 230 people registered.
“We didn’t want to be limited to a venue where we’d have to cap the attendance,” Fredman said. “Judy Victor will emcee the event, and we’ll have Jewish music and dancing while the dough rises.
“The focus is joining women all over the world that kicks this weekend off. It’s about the power of getting that many Jewish women together in a room and uniting.”
In St. Paul, the event is co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul and Baldinger Bakery, a St. Paul staple which has been in business since 1888.
“[Federation Women’s Division Director] Sharon Effress Pesses wanted to bring it to St. Paul and we thought it would be great if the bakery was a sponsor,” Baldinger said. “We love the idea of people spending Shabbat with their families.”
The Shabbat Project the brainchild of Chief Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, with the tagline of “Keeping It Together,” meaning Jewish unity of keeping Shabbat. In year 2, Fredman said, it became a global movement.
In 2016, there were more than 6,000 international partners that were coordinating Shabbat Project events in 1,152 cities around the world – 543 of them in the U.S.
Cohen said there has been a lot of energy for the event, especially now that the High Holidays are finished and people can start focusing on other things.
“We have close to 250 registered and we’re still not done. I think we’ll get about 400,” Cohen said. “There’s a really great, positive energy about this event. Women really connect through challah and really excited to do it this way.”