Challah pronounced ‘Holla!’

Traditional Jewish bread with a literal twist


Noah Burman pulling fresh Challah out of the oven. Photo taken Sept. 21 by Molly Myers.

Challah is a traditional Jewish bread served every Friday during Shabbat and every Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah — or Jewish New Year — begins Sunday, making it the perfect time to try this recipe.

This week Chico State’s Jewish Student Union, Hillel, hosted the event, “All you need to do is CHALLAH!!” 

At the event Noah Burman, Chico State student and Hillel chef, demonstrated how to make this fluffy delicacy. 

“Challah is so underrated,” Burman said. Growing up Jewish, Burman has been eating challah for as long as he can remember. He especially recommends using challah to make French toast. 

Compared to most kinds of bread challah is less dense. 

“Using a lighter type of bread makes it so you get a nice layer of the eggs and sugar mixture through your French toast, rather than having a thick piece half covered,” Burman said. 

Hillel director and student rolling challah dough to prepare for baking
Hillel Director Kristy Collins and student Noah Burman rolling challah dough. Zane Husky in back DJing. Photo taken Sept. 21 by Molly Myers.

Burman was taught the recipe by Rebbetzin Chaim Rappaport. Rappaport’s spouse is Reb Lisa Rappaport, a spiritual leader at the Congregation Beth Israel Chico.

“Rebbetzin originally meant the wife of the rabbi,” Rappaport said. “Now in English I take it to mean the spouse of the rabbi.”

Alternate titles for husbands of rabbis have been suggested like “rebbetzer” or “rebbetz-him,” a play on the word “rebbetzin” and the pronoun “him.” However, Rappaport keeps the tradition of the original word. 

Like any recipe Rappaport’s calls for specific measurements, but Burman advises against using this. 

“Measurements are a social construct,” Burman said, “Just have fun with it.”

Traditional challah is braided. On Rosh Hashanah challah is not only braided but also formed into a circle. 

According to Kristy Collins, executive director of Chico’s Hillel, the circle is symbolic of the New Year and the cycle of life. 

Rappaport’s recipe follows the traditions of the Jewish faith. Part of the recipe calls for pinching a piece of dough and placing it in the oven to burn for God. 

There is also a blessing that accompanies the recipe. 

Regardless of faith or Jewish background challah is for everyone. If you want to buy challah, Collins recommends Trader Joe’s. They usually have it on Fridays for $3.99.

Traditional challah has no toppings, but Burman uses everything besides the bagel seasoning for his demonstration. Rappaport’s recipe calls for sesame or poppy seeds. Sometimes he even adds cinnamon, sugar and raisins.  

However you like your challah, consider sharing it after baking. This embodies the Jewish concept of “Tikkun Olam,” which Collins describes as helping the community. 


Students and Hillel director braiding challah on white table
Challah being braided during Hillel’s challah demonstration. From left to right: Edan Asseraf, Lauren Gerson, Kristy Collins, Gil Klein-Cohen, and Noah Burman. Photo taken Sept. 21 by Molly Myers.

Challah (Makes two loaves)

Recipe by Chaim Rappaport


– 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast (1.5 tablespoons)

– 1 cup warm water (110 to 115 degrees)

– 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil

– 1⁄3 cup sugar

– 1-2 tablespoons salt

– 5 eggs

– 6 cups all purpose flour

– 1 teaspoon cold water

– 1 tablespoon sesame or poppy seeds (optional)


1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the oil, sugar,

salt, 4 eggs and 4 cups of flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough

remaining flour to form a firm dough. Turn onto a floured surface,

knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased

bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise at room temp

for an hour.

2. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Pinch a

walnut sized piece of dough, say the blessing and then put in the

oven. Divide remaining dough in half. Then take those halves and

divide them into 3 ropes, 15 inches in length to end up with 6 ropes.

Place the ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid. Pinch ends to

seal and tuck under. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise

until doubled, about an hour.

3. Beat cold water and remaining egg, brush over braids, sprinkle with

sesame or poppy seeds if desired. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until

golden brown. Remove and let cool.

Blessing: Baruch Ata adonai Elohaynu Melech Haolam Asher Kidishanu B’Mitzvotav

V’Tzivanu L’Hafrish Challah