On Nov. 10, Jewish women across the globe, including St. Louis, will participate in a world-wide challah bake.  Photo: Spoonful of Sugar Photography

Ellen Futterman, Editor


It can feel empowering to be part of something much bigger than we are. That’s more or less the idea behind the Great Big Challah Bake St. Louis, which is slated for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Clayton Plaza Hotel.

The challah bake is part of a worldwide initiative started in South Africa in 2013. It also marks the beginning of the global Shabbot Project, which brings together Jews from all backgrounds and traditions to celebrate one Shabbat together. This year, more than 100,000 women and girls, in more than 5,000 communities and 65 countries, are expected to gather together, on this one specific day, to make challah for Shabbat. 

According to Rene Price and Barbara Strashum, who along with Soshana Kowalsky are co-chairs of the local challah bake, St. Louis first participated in the event in 2014, after Price heard about it from relatives living in her native Johannesburg. Her nephew is Warren Goldstein, Chief Rabbi of South Africa.

“We basically decided to do it at the last minute at the J,” explains Price. “We thought we would get 100 people and we wound up with 200. It was really fantastic.”


Unfortunately, last year Price’s mother was critically ill, so she returned to South Africa to care for her. This year however, she and the other co-chairs started planning for the challah bake around Passover, hoping to make it much bigger and better than the one two years ago.

“In 2014, we put it together in two weeks, which was absolutely crazy,” says Strashum, who like Price, lives in University City and is a member of Young Israel. “This year we wanted to do it right and have people from throughout the community — the unaffiliated, Reform, Conservative, Orthodox  — working on it together. We are hoping to bring everyone together for this wonderful evening.”

The women are hoping for at least 500 participants at the Clayton Plaza, located at 7750 Carondelet Avenue. Each will be given a bowl, apron (which she gets to keep) and ingredients to make her own challah, which she then can take home to bake for Shabbat. 

“That evening we will have a very short talk about what challah is and why it is important to us,” says Price. “There will be a video presentation from my nephew (Rabbi Goldstein) that will be shown at all the challah bakes worldwide. Then we will braid the challah and celebrate with music and dancing, just as women across the globe will be doing in this one 24-hour period. It will be a lively, informal evening.”

In the video message, Goldstein talks about how on Nov. 10, as the sun sets in Australia and the first Great Big Challah Bake begins, Jewish women in different communities “will hand the baton on from continent to continent,” traveling westward through Asia, Israel, Africa, Europe, and North and South Americas, “uniting women in the shared experience of Jewish heritage, motherhood and sisterhood.” 

Price notes that the date for the challah bake, along with the worldwide Shabbat celebration, is two weeks after Sukkot, so it changes from year to year, depending on the Jewish calendar. Next year, organizers are hoping to hold the event at the Jewish Community Center, which wasn’t available this year because it coincided with the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival.

And while men won’t be turned away should they want to participate, Price and Strashum say the challah bake is really designed for Jewish women and girls.

The cost to participate is $18, or $180 for a table of 10. To register, and for more information, go to

Artful reflections

In April, the Light ran a story about St. Louis native and artist Linda Skrainka, who died in 2014 of cancer at the age of 74. At the time, a retrospective of her paintings entitled “Reflections” was on view at the St. Louis University Museum of Art. The exhibit ran from March 4 to May 15.

Now that retrospective has become a book, “Linda Skrainka: Reflections Close to Home” (St. Louis University Museum of Art, $65), containing 90 color plates of her artworks and edited by artist Yvette Drury Dubinsky. The book includes essays written by Petruta Lipan, director of the St. Louis University Museum of Art; Phyllis Plattner, an artist and close friend of Skrainka; and Robert Duffy, former art critic and writer for St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, Left Bank Books will host a panel discussion about the book with Dubinsky, Lipan and Plattner. Books for signing are available from Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid Ave. For more information, call 314-367-6731 or visit