"And she kneads,
kneads her challah dough…"

I am not really the bake-my-own-challah-type. I am truly a neophyte at this, but since I started to believe that wheat makes me drowsy - baking my own spelt challah was the way to go… Besides the fact that separating a small portion of the dough and baking challah is one of the three mitzvot entrusted especially to the Jewish woman.

G‑d knows I have plenty to pray for, so there I wasThis mitzvah has the unique ability to bring G‑d's blessings into the Jewish home, and is a propitious time to ask G‑d for whatever you want. G‑d knows I have plenty to pray for, so there I was—with my ingredients on the table and troubles in my heart.

I glanced at my Kitchen-Aid, eyed the dough hook and thought, "Ah, such a special mitzvah, I will knead my dough by hand." There is something special about doing it on my own. It reminded me of the story of the angels coming to visit Abraham. He was so overjoyed to have guests, and out of tremendous love for the mitzvah of welcoming them, he went himself and slaughtered the animals for the meat to serve them, even though he had servants who could have done it for him. The making of bread, however, he left to his wife, Sarah, because that mitzvah belonged to her. This is actually the first time the mitzvah of challah is referred to in the Torah.

The flour and the rest of the ingredients were all mixed into a big bowl, my hands ready to knead.

The trick with spelt is not to over-knead. When using wheat flour, it is almost impossible to knead "too long," but if you over-knead spelt flour, your finished loaves will come out heavy and crumbly.

The recipe called for five minutes of kneading. I thought to myself, "I have five minutes to talk to G‑d for whatever I need." I set the timer, start and go.

Knead. "G‑d, I need my family to be healthy, physically, spiritually and emotionally."

Knead. Knead. "And G‑d, I'm so frustrated about all the dental work I am going through now."

Knead. Punch. "G‑d, I'm pretty upset about..."

"And she kneads,
kneads her
needs away..."

I was done with my troubles — What troubles? Wow, that only took about a half of a minute. The dough required another four and a half minutes of kneading. Now I was actually enjoying this therapy.

"G‑d, please give everyone who is sick a fast and speedy recovery."

The kneading is a tad harder to manage with speltI thought of my friend's husband who is not well. I thought of my friend's daughter who is sick. My sister's friend's son had an operation. An acquaintance of mine is in the hospital. A friend's friends' sister was in an accident. A cousin of another friend is so ill. This lady I met is on her second round of chemotherapy. And the list unfortunately went on and on and on. Knead, knead, punch, punch. I pummeled that dough. "G‑d, please heal them all quickly! Do not allow Your children to suffer!"

Spelt dough does not get so smooth, it stays pretty sticky. The kneading is a tad harder to manage. I looked at the timer, and, oh no, I only had two minutes left.

"G‑d, my friend's daughter has been looking to get married for years now, help her find her match." Then I thought of my cousin who has been searching for her Mr. Right too. Oh, which reminded me of this young man I met who would so like to find a nice young girl to marry and start a home. An idea started to formulate in my head... "Oh, maybe," I started to think, "this sweet girl I met would be a suitable match for..."

Rrringggg... the timer went off. But.... but... I was not done. There were still so many people I wanted to petition for. And so I continued to knead, punch and unstick the sticky dough from my fingers. I did not care if I over-kneaded the dough. I did not care if my finished loaves would come out heavy and crumbly. It didn't matter - I still had some praying to do.

And so I prayed. And I kneaded.

I then covered the dough to let it rise. "Let good things rise towards all the people I mentioned and prayed for," I thought.

An hour later, I was ready to separate a small piece of dough... "G‑d! Please send your salvation to all who are in need." I dropped some coins in the charity box, as is the custom, and then slowly said the blessing..."Blessed are you... King of the Universe...Who has sanctified us... and commanded us to separate challah." To complete the mitzvah, I then removed a small piece of dough, lifted it and with pride declared: "This is Challah."

I shaped the dough as best as I could. Let it rise another half an hour. Basted it with egg and sesame seeds. Put it in the oven to bake.

What a wonderful aroma filled the home.

Anyone want my spelt Challah?As I was packing away the freshly baked loaves in the freezer, I calculated that I had enough there for the next few weeks. (Not everyone is so keen on eating this crumbly challah.) "Too bad," I thought, "I want to do this again real soon; I don't want to have to wait another couple of weeks."

I enjoyed this process and wanted the special opportunity of petitioning for my friends and family again. I'm eagerly looking forward to baking a new batch. I'm kneading to advocate.

Anyone want my spelt Challah? T'was baked with love, faith, extra honey and…tears.