A challah board is used to hold and present the traditional braided loaf of
bread called challah. Challah boards are commonly made of ceramic, pottery,
glass, or wood. Of these materials wood can be custom-made to match your
decor and table setting. The following are some of the most common
questions regarding challah and challah boards.
What Is Challah?
Challah is a type of bread usually braided and made with more eggs than
other types of bread. Challah is usually eaten on Friday evening in
celebration of the Jewish Sabbath. A round braided challah is often served at
the Jewish New Year. The Jewish New Year usually falls in September. The
blessing over the Challah is part of the Friday evening prayers said before the
Sabbath meal. Because of its deep spiritual significance, challah boards can
vary greatly in terms of quality and appearance. To choose one that meets
your needs while also being beautiful and unique, check out our list below.
What Items Should Be on the Shabbat Table?
There are a lot of items that could be on your shabbat table but they depend
on your family.
Shabbat Candlesticks: Shabbat Candlesticks can be made in many
configurations and out of many different materials. Traditionally there are two
candlesticks, and these were often made of metal. In Orthodox families the
candles are lit exactly when Shabbat begins, at sundown and the woman of
the house says the blessing over the Shabbat candles. Today a lot of Jewish
families choose to wait until everyone has gathered at the dining table to light
the Shabbat candles together regardless of when sundown occurred and say
the blessing together.
After the blessing over the Shabbat Candles many families recite
blessings over their children before saying the blessing over the wine.
Wine (Kiddush) Cup: Like the candlesticks the Kiddush cup can be made from
different materials. Some Kiddush cups are silver, plain glass, Reuven glass,
or even plastic. Also, like Shabbat candlesticks Kiddush cups can come in
different configurations. Today many families say the blessing over the wine
Challah Board/Plate: Some Jewish families use two challot (plural of challah)
for Shabbat to symbolize the double portion of manna that G-d provided
during Shabbat while the Jewish people wandered in the desert for 40 years.
Both challot are placed on the Shabbat table on the challah board and covered with a cloth until its time for the blessing over the challah. After the
family says the blessing over the challah, everyone eats a piece of the bread,
often dipped in salt. Some challah boards come with a small depression for
the salt to dip the challah in. Now Shabbat dinner can begin.
How To Choose a Challah Board
When purchasing a challah board, you should look for a board made from
hard wood, such as cherry or walnut. In recent years challah boards have
become beautiful decorative pieces that could be displayed in your home as
readily as any art or other Judaica. If you’re buying one, look for woodworking
that shows care and craftsmanship, including, fine grain quality wood, smooth
corners and edges, and polished finishes. Like all other Judaica, you are
investing in a piece of art to adorn your home, why not go all out and design
something unique just for you, your spouse, and your family. If you can think
of an original shape (say shaped like Israel or a heart), you can take those
design concepts with you when looking at different styles and shops online or
Creating Your Own Custom Challah Board
This is where our story comes in, because I specialize in creating custom-
made challah boards completely customized to your design. For instance, if
you wanted a personalized challah board, at your request, we could engrave
your family name or monogram on your board. You could have a hamsa, star
of David, menorah, or another religious symbol added onto your personal
challah board for additional personalization. No matter what style of
personalized Challah board you want, I will make sure that it’s done just right
using locally sourced premium quality wood. No matter what type of challah
board you’re looking for, I can create it with you!
How big should a Challah Board be?
People purchase challah boards to fit their specific needs, though sizes
generally vary between 12 and 30 inches long. Most people choose a challah board based on how many loaves of bread they typically use at one time, so if you typically use two loaves for Shabbat you should probably choose a 20 or 24 inch board. However, if you use one loaf for Shabbat
then a 10-12 inch board would be fine.
You can find wooden boards in a wide variety of colors and with different
designs; so, choose a board that appeals to you. Consider carving your
challah board for a unique housewarming or wedding gift, or simply something
special for yourself. Personalizing a challah board also makes it a unique gift because who could already have one? Though, there are two main ways to
engrave a challah board, laser etching and carving, through personal
experience I have found that the laser cannot carve deeply into the wood
without burning it. Regardless, having your own personalized challah board
makes it easier to always be sure which challah is yours at dinner time.