Chabad of Baka’s event hall in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem was filled to the brim on Thursday evening, Dec. 8, as 150 women of all ages, backgrounds and abilities gathered to bake challah together and to celebrate Jewish femininity. Participants were greeted by a delicious dessert buffet from Holy Bagel, and beautifully set tables bearing individually prepared bowls with placemats, personalized aprons, recipe magnets, and pre-measured ingredients for baking the traditional challah bread together.

The honored guest speakers at the event were Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Nahoum, a dear friend of the Chabad of Baka community who was instrumental in securing the plot of land Chabad acquired from the City Hall for its new building site, and Ruthy Leviev-Yalizarov, accomplished businesswoman, marriage therapist and mother of seven who co-founded the “she’asani isha” foundation to spread awareness and passion for the mitzvah of family purity.

The theme of the evening was the three mitzvot of Jewish women. Making challah was the central activity, while the keynote speaker, Leviev-Yalizarov, focused on the deeper meaning and joy in using the Mikvah (the ritual bath).  Nechama Dina Hendel, shlucha at Chabad of Baka, shared a personal story about the impact of lighting Shabbat candles and the blessings associated with lighting on time or even a little bit early. Talented musicians, Judith Litoff and Aviella Trapido, led the crowd in song and dance.

Members and volunteers of the Friendship Circle of South Jerusalem, directed by Chabad of Baka, were included in the celebration, as well as students from Darkeinu, a division of Midreshet Lindenbaum for students with special needs.

“What a joy to be in a room with women of all ages, from seminary students to seniors, and to experience the beauty of inclusion,” Yocheved, a special-ed teacher and participant, shared.

Pictures of creatively shaped loaves with interesting toppings accompanied the positive feedback that participants shared after the event. Hindel remarked, “The energy in the room was electrifying.” Juliet wrote, “My challahs come out really beautifully for my first time making challah—if I may say so myself.”

The Hakhel women’s event was dedicated to the full and speedy healing of the devoted shlucha in the Virgin Islands, who is on life support after trying to save her drowning infant in a freak accident, and Psalms were recited in her merit. The public is asked to please continue praying for Henya bat Bracha Devorah Leah.

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