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The Sabbath (Shabbat in Hebrew) is one of Judaism’s greatest gifts to humanity. People in the ancient Near East had nothing similar to the Jewish concept of a weekly sacred day of rest. Other cultures in the past knew of a seven-day week based on the phases of the moon, but the Israelite Sabbath is not connected to the movements of celestial bodies. It stands apart.

Try this fun, educational, and reflective Shabbat activity with your family!

Please join us for a warm and wonderful Kabbalat Shabbat service filled with beautiful sing-a-long melodies led by our spiritual/cantorial leader Audrey Kaufman.

Friday, March 3, 2017 - 6:30pm

Challah “Babka” Bread Pudding

Tina Wasserman

This recipe is featured in Tina Wasserman's newest book, Entrée to Judaism for Families, filled with tools to help children learn to cook with confidence, with clear, step-by-step instructions for every recipe and tips for adults to make the experience safe and rewarding.

Babka, or “grandmother’s cake,” refers to the babcia (in Slavic languages) or bubbe (in Yiddish), so called because in the early 1800s this cake was made in a high fluted pan that looked like a grandmother’s skirt.

Babka is a traditional Polish/Ukrainian yeast cake that was originally made from rich challah dough rolled around a sweet cinnamon or fruit filling. Baked with the challah, it was a Friday afternoon treat for children waiting for Shabbat to arrive.

This recipe is a twist on classic babka. Instead of being made with challah dough, it is made from the baked challah! Chocolate and cinnamon flavor the pudding, and the classic streusel topping finishes off this wonderful treat.

One 1-pound challah (raisin or plain), preferably a few days old
8 ounces Israeli chocolate spread or chocolate-hazelnut spread
1 stick unsalted butter or margarine
¼ cup light brown sugar
4 eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups milk (skim, 2%, or whole)
Additional butter for greasing dish
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature or slightly softened in the microwave
½ cup flour
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
  1. Butter a 2-quart oval or rectangular baking dish. Set aside.
  2. Slice the challah into ¾-inch slices. Spread the chocolate filling over each slice of bread using a small bent spatula or utility knife. Arrange in the casserole to fit evenly. 
  3. Microwave the butter in a 2-quart glass bowl until melted. Add the brown sugar, and stir to dissolve.
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and milk to the bowl, and whisk to combine well.
  5. Carefully pour the egg/milk mixture over the bread slices. Using a wide metal spatula, gently press down on the bread slices to submerge them under the custard. Place a plate or bowl on top of the casserole to weight the challah down. Set aside on the counter for 30 minutes while you make the topping.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  7. Place the topping ingredients in a 1-quart mixing bowl, and squeeze the mixture together using your hands at first and then fingertips, to evenly combine all ingredients and make a crumble.
  8. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the bread/custard in the baking dish.
  9. Bake for 35–45 minutes or until puffed and golden. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Kitchen Conversations

  • Does your family have a special dessert that you make for Shabbat or a holiday?
  • Where did the recipe come from? Whose family? What country?
  • Has the recipe changed over the years because of modern equipment?
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • The best knife for slicing bread is a serrated knife. However, if cut with a serrated knife the wound usually forms scar tissue. Therefore, with the exception of older children (7+) I would recommend pre-slicing the challah before you begin to make the recipe. 

Apple-Filled Star Challah

Tina Wasserman

Family and guests will oooh and ah over this beautiful Rosh HaShanah challah, which tastes as good as it looks!

2 cups whole-wheat flour
6 cups white bread flour
2 packages rapid rise yeast
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup corn oil plus 1 tablespoon for greasing bowl
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups unfiltered apple juice or apple cider
3/4 cup sugar
1 recipe for apple filling (see below)
Egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
Apple filling:
4 large honeycrisp or fuji apples, about 1 -1/4 pounds
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cornstarch combined with 2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoon coconut oil or unsalted butter
1/3 cup wildflower or clover honey, as needed


  1. In a large mixer bowl combine 2 cups whole-wheat flour with 5 cups of the bread flour, yeast, cinnamon, and salt. Turn machine to low (#1) for 10 seconds to combine.
  2. Measure 1 cup oil in a one-cup liquid measuring cup. Set aside.
  3. Lightly beat eggs and vanilla with a fork in a 1-quart bowl until combined. Set aside.
  4. Measure the apple juice or cider in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Add the sugar and stir once or twice. Microwave juice/sugar mixture on high for exactly 1 minute 20 seconds.
  5. Turn mixer to low (#1). Immediately add the hot juice/sugar mixture straight from the microwave, and then add the eggs and then the oil.
  6. Turn mixer to medium (#2) and continue mixing with dough hook for six minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl as necessary to incorporate all of the flour before adding any additional flour. If dough is too sticky add as much as 1 cup more flour or until a floured finger poked into the dough comes out clean.
  7. Grease a 4-quart bowl with the tablespoon of oil. Add the dough to the bowl, turning the dough over to coat it on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a draft-free spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour (I like to use an out-of-the-way corner in my kitchen or a warming drawer set on low.) Dough can also be put in the refrigerator to rise overnight.

Apple filling  (make the apple filling while dough is rising )

  1. Peel, core and cut apples into ¼ inch dice.
  2. Heat a 10-inch non-stick pan over medium-high heat for 10 seconds and then add the diced apples and brown sugar. Stir the apple mixture until the apples begin to give up their juices (about 3-4 minutes). Turn down heat if apples look like they are browning.
  3. Add the spices to the apples and cook, stirring often, until the apples are tender but not mushy and some of the liquid has evaporated (about another 4 minutes).
  4. Stir the cornstarch and water together to dissolve and then add to the apples, stirring constantly. Mixture will be shiny and no liquid will be visible.
  5. Turn off the heat and add the coconut oil or butter. Stir to combine and set aside to cool while dough is rising.

Assemble Bread

  1. Punch down the dough and divide into 4 equal pieces.
  2. Roll the first piece of dough into a 12-inch circle on a floured board. Spread a thin layer of honey over the dough and then 1/3 of the apple mixture over that.
  3. Repeat the previous step with the remaining pieces of dough ending with the fourth circle of dough. Gently pull the top layer over and tuck in all the edges underneath.
  4. Place a 3 inch glass bowl or cup face down in the center of the bread and lightly trace around it with a knife to mark a circle. Remove the glass. Make 12 cuts from the line of the circle to the end of the dough (I find it easiest to imagine a clock making my first cuts at 12,6,3 and 9 and then filling in the other cuts evenly. Make sure to cut through all layers of the dough.
  5. Working in pairs around the dough (clock!), take a wedge of dough in each hand and twist them over once, away from each other. Pinch the middle bottom of the pair together. Repeat with the remaining 5 pairs and then pinch the ends of each dough pair together to form a circle that has the design of a Jewish Star in the middle and little stripes of spiced apple peeking through.
  6. Carefully transfer the dough to a parchment lined cookie sheet and allow it to rise for 30-45 minutes.


  1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a pastry brush to coat the top of the loaf with the egg wash and place the cookie sheet in the lower third of your oven.
  2. Bake for 30-35 minutes depending on the size of the round and the heat of your oven. When the bread is done, it will be golden brown and have a hollow sound when tapped. You can also insert an instant read- thermometer into the center and the bread is done at about 195-205°F.
  3. Allow the bread to cool for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting.

Watch Tina Wasserman demonstrate how to make this recipe:

Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Apple filling can be doubled and dough can be divided into eighths to create two 8-inch loaves.

Camp Recipe: Gluten-Free Matzah Balls

The URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy Team

The weekly Shabbat meal is a favorite at URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy, using recipes from faculty members, staff members, and some classic recipes used by professional chefs at the Governor's Academy. The 6 Points Sci-Tech Shabbat meal consists of brisket, kugel, tzimmes, potatoes, challah, and matzah ball soup — all homemade.

At 6 Points Sci-Tech, our food is an example of our goal to be inclusive in so many ways, accommodating all sorts of dietary needs and food allergies. Our gluten-free vegetarian matzah ball soup is on the table for every Shabbat and everyone can eat it. The best part is that it tastes great and is served to everyone, regardless of any dietary need. You'd never know it was gluten-free if you weren't told.

Enjoy making this Sci-Tech favorite recipe... but if you want the rest of the dishes, you'll just have to join us at camp!

1 1/4 cup gluten-free matzah meal (we like Yehuda brand)
4 large eggs, separated
4 tablespoons gluten-free vegetable stock
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 gallon salted water or vegetable soup for simmering the matzah balls
  1. Separate the eggs whites and yolks. Place egg whites in a mixing bowl and whip until stiff peaks form.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks, vegetable stock, and olive oil.
  3. Place gluten-free matzah meal, salt, and pepper into bowl and stir to combine.
  4. Use a large spatula to gently fold the egg yolk mixture into the matzah meal.
  5. Gently fold the egg white mixture matzah meal mixture.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Form mixture into balls and drop them into simmering salted water or gluten free vegetable soup; simmer for 30 minutes.

David Alonzi, the head of dining services at camp, works with executive chefs Chuck Nishan and Art Warfel to make Shabbat come alive at URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy. 

Learn more about URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy in Byfield, MA, or find a Reform Jewish summer camp near you.

Eastern European Kreplach

Tina Wasserman

The kreplach represent our fate being "sealed" for the coming year. They are often served in chicken soup on Rosh HaShanah or before sundown the evening Yom Kippur begins. Wonton dough makes it very easy to make kreplach, but they will be floppy and thin. Homemade dough or purchased ravioli dough will give the thickness reminiscent of your grandmother's.

1/2 pound homemade dough (recipe below), fresh ravioli dough, or wonton skins
2 cups cooked meat, finely chopped, or hamburger lightly sautéed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chicken fat
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, slightly beaten
Oil for frying (optional)
For Homemade Dough:
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons ice water
2 cups bread flour
  1. Cut the dough into 2-inch squares.
  2. Combine the meat, onion, chicken fat, and seasonings in a small bowl. Beat the egg in a glass dish and add to the meat mixture. Add a little water to the dish used for the beaten egg.
  3. Place a teaspoon of filling on each square.
  4. Brush the top edges of the dough with the egg-water wash.
  5. Fold the dough in half on the diagonal to make a triangle. Pinch the edges together to seal.
  6. Cook in boiling salted water for 10 minutes or until done. Serve in the chicken soup or fry in a little oil.

To make the kreplach dough (purchased dough also works well)

  1. Place eggs in the food processor work bowl. Add the olive oil and the water and mix by turning the processor on and off twice.
  2. Add 1 cup of flour and process for 10 seconds longer. Dough will be crumbly. Pinch a little bit of dough; if it holds together it is ready to be rolled.
  3. Remove the dough and divide it in half. Place it on a lightly floured surface, cover and let it rest for 10 minutes or longer if you are rolling the dough by hand.
Tina's Tidbits: 
  • Pasta or pastry dough must be allowed to rest for at least 15 minutes after it is formed so that the gluten in the dough will relax and roll out easily without shrinking back.
  • When slicing pot roast, shards of meat invariably fall off the slices. Although tempting to eat right then, these bits of meat make great filling for kreplach, knishes, or chremslach. Freeze the meat bits, and defrost them when you're ready to make kreplach.
  • If you're purchasing pasta dough to make any filled pasta form, never buy sheets of lasagna noodles. They are too thick when folded over and will be quite chewy. On the other hand, maybe that's the way your bubbe made them!
  • Salt should never be used in pasta dough, as it will toughen the dough and make it very difficult to roll out. Always add the salt to the water when cooking the filled dough.

Camp Recipe: Chef Lori’s Shabbas Brownies

The URJ Camp George Team

Like at so many Jewish summer camps, the Shabbat experience is a highlight for campers and staffers alike at URJ Camp George in Ontario, Canada. These chocolaty brownies, created by chef Lori Stevenson, help make Shabbat even sweeter. Now you can enjoy them at home and think of camp, whether you’ve ever experienced Shabbat on Maple Lake or not!

1.875 cups white sugar
1 cup shortening
1/4 cup pareve margarine
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
A splash of vanilla
1/4 cup water
1 cup softened margarine
1/2 cup cocoa powder
5 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Cream sugar, shortening, margarine and salt.
  2. Slowly add the eggs, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add vanilla and water
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, cocoa power, and baking powder. Add to wet ingredients.
  4. Pour batter into pan and bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for approximately 30 minutes. 

To make the icing:

  1. Whip butter and cocoa together in large bowl until smooth .
  2. Stir in vanilla and powdered sugar.
  3. Stir together until the icing is light, fluffy, and smooth (about 1-2 minutes). 

Once the brownies have cooled, ice them and cut into squares. They are best enjoyed with camp friends! 

For more than 33 years Lori Stevenson has worked in the kitchen on the site of URJ Camp George, a Reform Jewish summer camp for children in grades 2 to 11. As a master kosher chef and culinary expert, Lori ensures that all 500 mouths are fed three times a day, all summer long. Along with her assistant Vicky, Lori whips up extraordinary meals that have everyone coming back for more!

Learn more about URJ Camp George in Ontario, Canada, or find a Reform Jewish summer camp near you.

Quick! It’s Tuesday! If you act now, there’s still time to participate in the beautiful ritual of Havdalah, the ceremony marking the end of Shabbat. According to Jewish tradition, the Havdalah service may be recited through the following Tuesday. Nevertheless, Havdalah is most often observed on Saturday evening, marking the end of the day of rest.


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