This is the Challah

Sue Hep­ker; Amy Wum­mer, illus.
  • Review
By – February 26, 2013

Remem­ber the sto­ry This is the House that Jack Built”? Sue Hep­ker has tak­en the sto­ry­telling prin­ci­ples of that sto­ry and applied them to a Jew­ish sto­ry about chal­lah bak­ing, cou­pled with fun, bright pic­tures of the inner work­ings of a Jew­ish home by illus­tra­tor Amy Wummer.

The book begins with the steam­ing chal­lahs that Bubbe has made, straight out of the oven. Then it takes us back in time to the process of mak­ing those chal­lahs, explain­ing how the yeast frothed the water and sug­ar that went in the chal­lah that Bubbe made. As the chal­lah ingre­di­ents are being assem­bled, we watch as a child, age three, helps out, spilling sug­ar and eggs on the counter. Mean­while, her younger broth­er throws Chee­rios from his high chair, spills food every­where and screams as his moth­er tries to clean him up. The kitchen becomes increas­ing­ly chaot­ic, with oil spills, a kids’ ball that lands in the chal­lah bowl and a floor that becomes a mess of sticky food rel­ished only by the fam­i­ly dog.

Mean­while, adult and child hands cre­ate the chal­lah braids, the kitchen is cleaned and the bread bakes in the oven, just in time for Shab­bat din­ner. This is the home that is warmed by the oven, that baked the…challah that Bubbe made,” writes Hep­ker at the end of her book. Her book, a quick, fun read for the two-to-four-year-old Jew­ish child, describes a typ­i­cal chal­lah bak­ing expe­ri­ence, one full of chaos, love, inten­tion and tasty results. She includes the recipe for those results on the final page so read­ers young and old can cre­ate their own ver­sions of her Bubbe’s challah.

Lau­ren Kramer is a Van­cou­ver-based jour­nal­ist, wife, and moth­er with a life­long pas­sion for lit­er­a­ture. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, she has won awards for her writ­ing and report­ed from many cor­ners of the world. Read more of her work at www​.lau​renkramer​.net.

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