Loaves of Torah: Exploring the Jewish Year through Challah

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ISBN: 978-0-88123-379-7

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By Rabbi Vanessa M. Harper
Foreword by Rabbi Michael Marmur, PhD

Braided and spiral loaves of challah have long been a delicious centerpiece of the Jewish table, but with a few extra twists, the beloved Shabbat bread can become a work of art that teaches Torah. In Loaves of Torah, Rabbi Vanessa M. Harper---creator of the hit Instagram account @lechlechallah---shapes interpretive challot for each weekly Torah portion and Jewish holiday. A creative journey through the Jewish year, the book pairs gorgeous color photographs with insightful commentary, in-depth questions for reflection and discussion, as well as beautiful kavanot. Rabbi Harper also includes blessings, recipes, and tips for creating your own interpretive challot. A fresh, contemporary commentary on our holiest text, Loaves of Torah will inspire you to think outside the braid and take Torah into your own hands.

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Loaves of Torahgives us the gift of a thoughtful, meaning-filled look into Jewish tradition's most celebrated bread. Whether you are a longtime challah baker or challah curious, you will find so much richness in these pages.
--Leah Koenig, author of The Jewish Cookbook

With its in-depth introduction to the history and rituals of challah, gorgeous photos of exquisitely made challot, and fascinating commentary, this insightful and inspiring book will be a valuable resource for anyone who loves to study Torah, teach, bake, and/or connect to Jewish time and texts in creative and meaningful ways. Loaves of Torah will whet both your appetite and imagination!
--Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, PhD, Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Provost, Hebrew Union College--Jewish Institute of Religion and coeditor of The Torah: A Women's Commentary

Jewish learning that stays with us is deeply experiential---it can enter us through our sense of taste or the choreography of braiding, as much as the study of ancient wisdom or deep discussions with friends. Rabbi Vanessa Harper's book offers all of these entry points and more, providing a weekly inspiration for the senses and intellect for anyone who joins her on this year-round journey.
--Aliza Kline, President and CEO, OneTable Shabbat

Rabbi Vanessa Harper has produced a truly original and delightful work. Building on the advice of our ancestors to turn Torah and turn it again, for everything is in it, she has kneaded and kneaded themes and ideas to be found in every weekly portion, and baked up a midrash you can eat. Like all the best Torah, you can experience this book on different levels---it's a feast for the eyes, a treat for the stomach, and a salve for the soul.
--From the foreword by Rabbi Michael Marmur, PhD, Associate Professor of Jewish Theology, Hebrew Union College--Jewish Institute of Religion

[T]he author's talents as both a scholar and teacher are on full display as she distills complex, theologically dense material into an easy-to-read format. While this narrative on its own makes for a thoughtful book, the triumph of this volume lies in its highlighting of the gorgeous, creative interpretative bread that accompanies each story. ... A rare combination of cookbook and theological commentary, both visually stunning and profound.
-- Kirkus Reviews

What began as a pandemic project by Rabbi Vanessa Harper has blossomed into a beautiful book that brings the weekly parashah to life in a unique way: through the art of challah. ... Each entry is accompanied by a beautiful photograph of that week's interpretive challah creation, plus a few pages explaining the significance of the parashah. In essence, Rabbi Harper has put a modern spin on ancient Talmudic teachings. This is a book to pick up again and again. Readers can look forward to, and be inspired by, clever creations like two blue, intricately braided challot for Parsha B'shalach, which describes the parting of the Sea of Reeds. Rabbi Harper also challenges us to a kavanah, or weekly intention, encouraging us to find meaning in our week. Just like making challah can be an individual practice---regardless of the fact that we all use the same ingredients---so too is Rabbi Harper pushing us to take each parashah and make it our own.
-- Jewish Book Council

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ISBN 978-0-88123-379-7
Copyright © 2023
7.25" x 7.25"
Page count: 360