The message of the night, which brought together 1000 women to make challah together, was the power of women. The women who attended the sold out event came from all walks of life and reflected the spectrum of religious practice. Making challah was on the ticket, but it was much, much more than that. It was an occasion for women to unite with each other in a bonding experience that uniquely happens when baking challah-one of the mitzvot reserved for women.
Rebetzin Goldi Plotkin, of Chabad Lubavitch of Markham, roused the audience by calling out “Who is here with their grandmothers and daughters?” “Who is here with your school?” “Who is here with your synagogues?” The chorus of women filled the air with jubilation. Spirits soared as the women were ready to enjoy the evening.
Goldi spoke about the power of women, particularly when they pray. She related the story of her own special needs son— shortly after giving birth, the doctors handed him to her, saying matter of factly,“He has downs syndrome.” In coming to terms with this unexpected blessing, she related how she discovered her own wellspring of strength and the power of prayer that helped her to get there.
Judy Feld Carr, a beautifully elegant woman, told her incredible story of how she came to save more than 3000 Syrian Jews over a period of 30 years. The unlikelihood of a seemingly ordinary woman, born in Sudbury, Ontario, being involved in this daring scheme was simply astounding. She related how difficult the burden was and the toll that it took, knowing that if the fleeing Jews were caught—if a baby was heard crying— they would no doubt be put in jail or more likely shot. Her bravado and courage were completely mesmerizing. The buzz in the room was completely silenced as 1000 pairs of eyes were riveted on Ms. Carr.
Judy invoked the power of each one of us in her final message, declaiming: “Don’t ever think that you can’t do whatever it is you want to do. Whatever you put your mind to, you can do!” Her sincerity and her sterling example made everyone believe her. “The Jewish people are still in peril,” she continued. “Anti-Semitism is out there, and we must all play a part.”
Then the room erupted with women dancing and clapping—arm in arm in circles on the floor or standing on chairs and tables. The women took up their spoons and tapped them on the table in a raucous chorus that swelled along with the feeling of euphoria. It was a wonderful evening that launched a full weekend of inspirational events in honour of The Shabbat Project.
Click below to see some pictures from the Women’s Challah Bake: