Chanalee Fischer, aka the "Challah Fairy," is busy at her bakery in preparation for Rosh Hashanah.
Food & Wine Editor
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Meet Chanalee Fischer, aka the "Challah Fairy." Maybe you’ve seen her challahs at Seasons, or at Prime Butcher Baker, or even visited her café in New City, New York. Fischer started baking challahs out of her home when her children were young, delivering them to her neighbor’s mailboxes on Friday afternoons. That’s how she got her title, the Challah Fairy. When her kids got a little older, she decided to turn her knack for kneading into a business. She's playful when it comes to inventing new flavors for her challahs. Her oreo challah is a best-seller, and around Thanksgiving people eagerly await her apple-cranberry challah. Her plain, poppy, sesame and crumb ones are always for sale. In the weeks leading up to Rosh Hashanah Fischer is busier than ever baking challahs and taking orders. Fortunately, she made some time to schmooze about non-challah related things, like why froyo is overrated and her signature omelet trick.
Cake Land at home with Yorkville's other Jewish businesses.
Special To The Jewish Week
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The far Upper East Side neighborhood dominated by New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center does not lack baked goods, what with Dunkin’ Donuts, Bagels & Co. and numerous coffee carts dispersed throughout the area.
Yet since a Chabad mikveh, or ritual bath, opened in 2005, the area has been attracting more Jewish institutions, such as a the Moise Safra JCC, about to open on Lexington and 84th, and the V-Note, a vegan restaurant with kosher certification on 80th and First Avenue.
Last Wednesday, for my first time, I baked two loaves of challah for Shabbat. I participated in an enjoyable event held regularly at my campus Chabad. Baking challah and its accompanying mitzvah, our instructor helpfully explained, is traditionally a “woman’s mitzvah.”
Did I just witness gender formation? Was female identity constructed just there before my eyes and is it really so simple?
I’ve been covering Jewish education for almost 15 years and have interviewed countless people telling me about the myriad challenges (not to mention the financial investment required) of maintaining and passing on our illustrious Jewish traditions.
For interfaith families alone, there is an entire cottage industry of websites like this and this brimming with suggestions, resources, how-to’s and so on for learning about and transmitting our aforementioned traditions.
A few years ago, when I wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal about increasing numbers of gentile moms raising Jewish kids, I was amused by the editor’s headline choice: “But Will The Chicken Soup Taste As Good?”
In fact, a sizable number of non-Jewish men and women who have married into the Tribe are taking on the responsibility of cooking the family’s chicken soup, along with other traditional Jewish dishes.