Taking Challah

by Mark S. Railey
Jan. 1, 2021

Ever wanted to "take" Challah? Here is a great recipe with pretty nice background information about this popular Jewish bread. Try it out and enjoy the experience.

Challah, the piece that is torn off (taken) for the Lord, is mentioned in Numbers 15:17-21.

Here is the blessing and how to "take" the Challah dough.

Holding the piece of challah, say the blessing:

בָּרוּך אַתָּה יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֱלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶר קִדְּשֳנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ לְהַפְרִישׁ חַלָּה מִן הָעִסָּה Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hafreesh challah min ha’eesah.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with commandments, and commanded us to separate challah.

Hold the piece of dough and say “harei zo challah” (This is challah).

Now you are ready to burn and discard the challah. The most common method is to wrap the dough in aluminum foil and then burn it in the bottom of the oven as it preheats or as the loaves bake. Some people burn the foil-wrapped piece of dough on the flame of a gas range. Others wrap the challah in a napkin or paper towel and discard it without burning.

If you don't have time to bake Challah and you are in the Fort Smith area, we enjoy a standing order to purchase Challah from a really great local Bakery - Harvest Moon Bakery, 5441 S. 24th St. Fort Smith, AR 72901. Give them a call at (479) 242-1006, or stop by for coffee and a pastry (note: They close at 3:00). Tell us what you think of our friends.


  • 1 ½ packages active dry yeast (about 3 1/2 teaspoons)

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar

  • ½ cup vegetable oil, more for greasing bowl

  • 5 large eggs

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 8 to 8 ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling


  1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.

  2. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading.)

  3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off. Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.

  4. To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.

  5. Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour.

  6. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking. Then dip your index finger in the egg wash, then into poppy or sesame seeds and then onto a mound of bread. Continue until bread is decorated with seeds.

  7. Bake in middle of oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden. Cool loaves on a rack.


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