It started with a little chutzpah and a lot of dough.
Last fall, as part of the worldwide Shabbat Project movement, 350 Jews gathered at the Marcus Jewish Community Center to bake challah. The inaugural event was so well received that the center and Shabbat Project are partnering again Oct. 22 to teach the importance of observing the Sabbath and preparing challah.
“Last year was a sellout. We actually had to close the event off,” said Rabbi Brian Glusman, the Marcus JCC’s outreach and engagement director. “People showed up that night and weren’t allowed to participate because we ran out of ingredients.”
This year’s event will be held in the JCC gymnasium to accommodate an expected crowd of 600 people. Nearly 600 pounds of flour, double the amount of last year, will be brought in to make challah.
The challah bake is part of the worldwide Shabbat Project, a weekend full of events across the globe to encourage Shabbat observance. The movement was started in 2013 by Warren Goldstein, the chief rabbi of South Africa, and last year spread to more than 450 cities.
“For me, the Shabbat Project is about being Jewish regardless of your affiliation,” said Robyn Regenbaum, who serves as the Atlanta coordinator for the movement. “It’s knowing how important Shabbat is regardless of how you celebrate and accepting everyone for who they are.”
Besides the two events, Regenbaum said, it’s up to you and your family to decide how to observe Shabbat on your own.
“For me personally, I celebrate Shabbat as an Orthodox Jew,” said Regenbaum, who grew up in South Africa. “However anyone else wants to celebrate is fine with me; my issue is just getting people to observe Shabbat. It’s important to keep Judaism alive.”
The worldwide Shabbat Project has roots in Orthodox Judaism, but the movement includes the entire Jewish community in Atlanta.
Shabbat is the most important ritual observance in Judaism and is the only one instituted in the Ten Commandments.
“Growing up as a traditional Jew, I didn’t know there were other opportunities or methods of enjoying Shabbat,” Rabbi Glusman said. “When people tell me they don’t have time to make a traditional Shabbat with chicken and kugel, I say have a Shabbat over pizza. Light your Shabbat candles and have challah. It’s possible to celebrate in a variety of ways.”
What: The Great Big Challah Bake
Where: Marcus JCC’s Zaban Park, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody
When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22
Tickets: $10, advance reservation and payment required; atlanta.theshabbosprojectusa.org