In this fast-paced, charming story, Rivka and her bubbie decide on a new custom for their family: they will bake their own challah at home every Friday for Shabbat. The problem is that neither of them has ever baked anything before, because Rivka was too young and Bubbie was too busy with her career. After they’ve set out on this new adventure together, Rivka describes their baking attempts, while Mom and Grandpa offer a Greek chorus of reviews.
Although the book follows the familiar “child joins nourishing grandparent in the kitchen” plot, the situation rises like challah dough through its heavy dose of levity and self-awareness about trying new things. Failure to make the perfect challah only adds to the fun. Both youngster and oldster accept their mistakes without diminishing their self-worth. They learn as they bake, improving each time, and they grow the bond between them. Their family treasures celebrating Shabbat because it brings them a sense of love that, in turn, feeds their Jewish identity. A standard holiday tradition becomes individualized for a modern grandmother and her granddaughter.
Ellen G. Cole, a retired librarian of the Levine Library of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, is a past judge of the Sydney Taylor Book Awards and a past chairperson of that committee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excellence in Jewish Children’s Literature. Ellen is the recipient of two major awards for contribution to Judaic Librarianship, the Fanny Goldstein Merit Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroeder Award from the Association of Jewish Libraries of Southern California. She is on the board of AJLSC.