Baking and eating challah bread, which is typically round or braided and comes in loafs or rolls, is an important part of the Jewish tradition. Since biblical times, Jews have enjoyed it at their Sabbath and holiday meals. The bread is steeped in symbolism.
For Sarah Klegman, 29, and Elina Tilipman Gitig, 32, challah is how they connect to their Jewish heritage. It's also their business. The two are the owners of Challah Hub, a subscription-based challah delivery company in Los Angeles. They make the standard bread, but also offer a mint chocolate chip, matcha, s'mores, jalapeño Gruyere and pumpkin white chocolate challah. Most challahs on the market are simple, and do not contain more than the basic ingredients, which are yeast, eggs, sugar, flour and salt.
Challah Hub has gained notoriety on Instagram, with more than 9,000 followers, and is set to launch in beta this spring to a select group of testers. Delivery will be once a week, on Fridays, and the service will offer the basic challah, along with options for specialty flavors.
In Michigan, Klegman grew up making challah with her mother, and has always been comforted by the ritual. "There is something really special about baking something with your hands that takes so much care," she said. "And then your bread is the center of the Shabbat meal, which brings people together. Everything revolves around the challah."
Tilipman Gitig and Klegman met at a brunch three years ago, when Klegman was showing off photos of some challah she'd made. "I told Sarah I'd pay for her brunch if she taught me how to make challah," said Tilipman Gitig.
The two started meeting up to bake challah together, and then Tilipman Gitig had the idea to start an Instagram for their creations. "As I discovered, Elina's ideas are not to be ignored," said Klegman.
Since then, Klegman and Tilipman Gitig have given a challah-making and braiding demonstration at the Los Angeles Bread Festival, delivered challahs to Angelenos through UberEATS for the 2015 Rosh Hashana "challahday" and held a challah bake at the Downtown Women's Center. They also do tasting events and post instructional videos on their website such as, "How to braid: 4-strand twist" and "How to make challah dough."
While the two entrepreneurs dedicate their free time to Challah Hub, the company is not yet a full-time job for them. Klegman is a creative marketing executive and writer, as well as a former talent manager and producer. Tilipman Gitig is assistant director at NuRoots East Side, a local organization that holds events for the millennial Jewish population in LA.
The Challah Hub Instagram page, which is full of "challah porn and really tasty pics of carbohydrates," according to Klegman, garners hundreds of comments from followers about where they can find the bread and how they can make it. The recipes for many of the breads they post are on the Challah Hub website, and delivery will be available following the beta period to L.A. residents only. If users sign up to join the Challah Hub email list by Feb. 28, they'll receive 50% off their first orders.
As for the future, the two hope to be able to expand their service to other cities, as well as keep serving the L.A. community. "We do cool tastings, community engagement and social activism events," said Klegman. "We want to keep putting challah in people's faces and engage with them in a fun way."
Through Challah Hub, Tilipman Gitig and Klegman have brought together a group of people who appreciate and bake challah around the globe. "We see this worldwide challah community that loves being creative with their bread," Tilipman Gitig said. "We're sharing recipes and coming together. It's beyond your Friday night dinner table on Shabbat. It's an everyday thing."