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Columbia Spectator Staff

Challah French toast, anyone? Challah for Hunger, a nonprofit organization that raises money and awareness for malnutrition and disaster relief, has Columbia's chapter in its fourth week of baking. This humanitarian campaign is heating up at college campuses around the country, and Columbia participants hope to break the bread at a campus-wide event. "It is something that really unites our community because it's both a cultural and a religious food and tradition," said Hillel Vice President Sarah Sherer-Kholburn, BC '10. "Our community can really come together, whether they're coming out Wednesday night to bake or just buying it on Friday." Each week, roughly 10 people come to help bake challah in the Hillel building. The group consists of mostly Jewish students, but according to Rachel Loebl, BC '10, social justice coordinator for Columbia/Barnard Hillel, Challah for Hunger is not limited to Hillel members or to the Jewish community. "Sometimes there's this image that Hillel is a very religious and close-minded place and that's not the reality," Loebl said. "This helps show people that the image is not always what happens inside the Hillel building. The more ways we can try to get people involved, the better—Jewish students, non-Jewish students, those affiliated with Hillel, those who are not." Though other campuses have official baking shifts, Loebl said the Columbia chapter hosts a flexible program that allows people to come help out when they can. "People come in and out," said Jenn Leyva, CC '12, who spearheaded the Columbia chapter of Challah for Hunger along with Loebl. "It doesn't take too many people to make challah, but the more the merrier," she said, adding, "There's no such thing as too many bakers in the kitchen Not here, at least." Columbia Challah for Hunger is limited to about 50 loaves per week because there is only one kosher oven available in Hillel's Café Nana. In spite of this setback, sales have been brisk. At $3 a loaf, the group has sold out of challah every week so far, and hopes to do the same in its final week of baking for the fall semester. It is interested in selling in Lerner Hall on Friday afternoons and on College Walk in the spring. One-third of the money goes to cover the cost of the bread, another third goes to the national Challah for Hunger cause—the American Jewish World Service's Sudan Relief and Advocacy Fund—and the last third goes to a local hunger relief organization that Columbia Challah for Hunger can choose to partner with and help on a weekly basis. "This is something that you do and you sell and you know where the money's going," said Chanel Dubofsky, Hillel's staff coordinator for social justice and Israel programming. "It's a tangible way of making change." Dubofsky also noted that "Challah is a Jewish bread but it's not a Jewish program." Leyva—who herself is not Jewish—loves baking and heard about Challah for Hunger while visiting Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., where the organization was founded in 2004. "I bring friends who are not Jewish," she said. "I always get people asking me, ‘But I'm not Jewish.' Neither am I!" Leyva said she would like to see the program expand outside of Hillel, and they are interested in working with the people who make grilled-cheese sandwiches in JJ's Place. "We are interested in expanding and getting other people involved," Loebl said. "But it will take some time." Columbia Challah for Hunger bakes kosher challah with flavors ranging from honey whole wheat to cinnamon raisin in Café Nana on Wednesdays from 5-9 p.m. in the third-floor lounge of the Kraft Center at 606 W.115th St. The challah is available for purchase on Fridays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the lobby of the Hillel building.

Hillel hunger