HAFTR ushers in the Shabbat spirit

School holds a challah bake

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Four rows of tables were lined up in the old gymnasium of the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway (HAFTR) in Lawrence as families and friends gathered for a challah bake on Oct. 23 as part of the worldwide Shabbos Project.

The Shabbos Project is an international grassroots identity movement that seeks to unite all Jews to keep one full Shabbat together. It originated last year in South Africa, where the majority of that nation’s diverse Jewish community joined together to observe a single Shabbat, most for the first time.

Tova Tucker, the school’s director of Special Programs who coordinated the event along with Lower School Principal Joy Hammer, said that most of the challah bakes around the world are geared for girls 12 and up and women, and for affiliated and unaffiliated Jews, HAFTR wanted to do “something special for our children,” Tucker said.

Ilanit Sternberg and her children, Daniella, 7, a second-grader at HAFTR, and Zachary, 4, who attends the school’s pre-k program, were hard at work making their challah. “It’s a lot of fun,” said Daniella, whose hands were busy kneading the dough. “I think it’s a great experience for the kids and parents who haven’t done it before,” said Ilanit, who compared the challah dough to Play-Doh that you can eat.

Along with the challah bake there was singing led by music teacher Janet Goldman, flower arranging and making muktzah boxes, where one can place items such as cell phones that are not permitted to be used on Shabbos.

“At HAFTR we are raising awareness of the spirit of Shabbat throughout the year,” Tucker said. “We thought that it would be a good time for kids to join in the worldwide efforts.”