More than 35 Russian Jews and several children gathered on the afternoon of Dec. 18 to braid and bake miniature challahs at an event sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, The Jewish Agency for Israel and Genesis Philanthropy Group.
Jane Tavyev, who moved from Latvia when she was 3 years old, said she enjoyed hosting the party at her Beverly Hills home because it allowed her to connect with other Russian Jews. “When I’m surrounded by members of the Russian Jewish community, it reminds me of my childhood,” said the 39-year-old mother of two. “We share so many commonalities.”
The event also helped Tavyev’s two sons, Jacob and Rafael, learn how to make challah and practice Russian with their friends.
For Katya Stromblad, 40, who moved from Moscow 26 years ago, the event was an opportunity to learn how to bake challah for the first time.
“I love to bake, but I never made challah before,” said Stromblad. “It’s an amazing experience.”
Some called their challahs pierogi — Russian dough pillows filled with potatoes or jam — as guests stuffed their ropelike strands with chocolate and nuts. At the end, each guest left with a bag of freshly made dough so they could make another challah at home.
Olga Tsiroulnik, 37, who moved from Russia when she was 15 years old, said the event is a fun way to connect with other Russian Jews. “It’s important for us to preserve Jewish traditions,” she said.
For some participants, the event provided an opportunity to practice their Russian. Dan Lozovatsky, who moved from Russia, learned about the event through a Facebook group and said he couldn’t resist attending the party. “We want our children to experience the Russian-Jewish community because our children speak only Russian at home,” said Lozovatsky, who came to the event with his wife, Margaret, and their two children.
Elina Tilipman and Sarah Klegman, co-founders of Challah Hub, helped teach the children how to make the traditional bread. “I think it’s important to teach kids how to make challah,” Tilipman said. “It is also a lot of fun.”