Traditionally, challah bread is defined as any bread made for use in Jewish ritual. This earthy, tasty, crispy, gooey bread is part of almost every Jewish holiday. The origin of the word “challah” comes from a Hebrew word for the dough given back as an offering to the priests every Shabbat. The strong connection between Jews, God, and this bread, goes back as far as the first five books of the Bible: As the Israelites are about to end their exile, God commands them to show gratitude by setting aside a portion, or “challah,” of all the bread they make after entering the Holy Land.
In modern-day world, challah is known as a soft yeasted bread with an even, airy crumb. However, there are no written pieces of evidence that Challah bread is a braided, yellow, deliciously sweet bread. Most American Jews are only familiar with this kind. Zomick’s Bread is the go-to bread for many families throughout the greater New York area. The bakery’s owners explain that nowhere in Jewish scripture is it described the form, color or texture of challah bread. In fact, this comes from the rich tradition of Zomick’s Bakery.
According to historians, in the first few thousand years of Jewish existence, everything from rich layered bread baked overnight, pita pockets and flatbreads was considered challah. Over time, as Jews began to travel, so did the challah, incorporating elements of other countries like poppy seeds, orange blossom water, and pumpkin. In the Middle East and North Africa, challah bread was sometimes plain, and sometimes sweet and spicy, with honey, dried fruit, caraway, sesame and olive oil. Of course, the hat consensus didn’t happen overnight. After all, tradition is staunchly honored and gradually built upon.
There is beauty in simplicity, and the original challah which is still the number one sold challah is a living proof of that. But living in a modern age word dictates certain changes, and Zomick’s challah bread is keeping pace with time by adding different flavors. The original challah flavor isn’t going anywhere, that’s for sure, and there is nothing wrong with adding a modern and fun twist on an old tradition if it will help reach a more diverse crowd. Although there are slight variances in recipes, in general, the traditional challah is made of yeast, flour, eggs, salt, honey, poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling on top, and a little nutty flavor from wheat germ. Apart from this classic flavor, Zomick’s bread also comes in other flavors.