Published in OC Register-Rancho Canyon News, Aug 16, 2013

The Challah Table

Every second Wednesday, little children and their moms gather for Shabbat Tots Mommy and Me at Chabad Jewish Center of RSM. Various attractive and educational toys greet the children, but amid them all stands a small, covered Little Tikes table, sprinkled with flour and dough, that particularly beckons, invites, and lures. Once the children become acquainted with it once, it never fails to bring them back again. It is the challah table, where small pudgy hands roll, twist and pull on the dough to make their very own challah-bread to bake and take home —ostensibly for Friday night-Shabbat dinner, but usually it doesn’t last half the ride home.

The challah table is a prime example of Chabad’s hands-on, experiential learning philosophy that fosters positive expression and creativity and is a great beginning to the child’s Jewish education and awareness.

While the challah bakes and spreads it tantalizing aroma through the building, the children play and the moms talk. Discussions vary from the practical to the philosophical, but the warm accepting environment always encourages open sharing and friendship.

Holiday crafts, circle time with animated story-telling and Jewish music-and-movement songs complete the picture and bring more fun and bonding for Mom and child. Recently, participants gathered with their families for a Friday night Shabbat dinner, and as the pre-posed photos attest, great fun and learning was experienced by all. IMG_4470.JPG

As the children get older, they are not left hanging. Chabad Kid’s Club (for ages 5-12) supplements their education by offering bi-monthly fun, interactive, enriching activities that promote Jewish values and culture as well as friendship, and social-action projects. (Photos here)

Both programs are led by Rochel Kantor, long-time childhood educator, mother of four and co-director of Chabad Jewish Center of RSM. She derives great joy from meeting her graduates. Recently she met a 12-year old boy studying for his Bar Mitzvah, and she reminded him with great pride, “Do you remember coming to my Mommy and Me?”

Whether he consciously remembered it is questionable. But the subconscious impact it made on his sensitive soul and the warm feelings he still carries for his Jewish heritage and values are unquestionable.

For more information on program details for the coming school year go to or call Rochel at 949-264-6930.


 Photos here.