Kids look on in amazement as a Jewish school and its Jewish community attempt to beat an existing record and make the longest challah, Jan. 19, 2024. Photo courtesy of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Manhattan.



A New York Jewish school is hoping to set a Guinness World Record for the lengthiest challah after making a 35-foot-long braided bread and submitting proof of its results to the organization that documents record-breaking results.

Shabbat Of Love

The effort by the Rodeph Sholom School, a part of Congregation Rodeph Sholom on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, was undertaken as part of the “Shabbat of Love”—a national event sponsored by Jewish Federations of North America to spread “love for the Jewish people at one of our darkest times.”

Jewish Federations of North America was the main driver of the challah initiative as part of “Shabbat of Love,” in partnership with the Orthodox Union. Some 30,000 participants and more than 240 organizations participated in the Jan. 19 celebration of Shabbat.

Sarah Eisenman, chief community and Jewish life officer at JFNA, as well as a parent of a student at the Rodeph Sholom School, was the brainchild behind the challah endeavor. She was looking for an activity that would “bring Jewish pride and Jewish joy” on the day of the event, and then during a late evening of scrolling through articles she found that there was a world record for the longest challah. “I knew we could surpass it,” she said.

Record Down Under

That record is currently held by Grandma Moses Bakery in Australia, which won the title in 2019 for making a 32-foot-long challah in conjunction with the Jewish National Fund-Australia.

O.U., Bakeries Help

As for the challenger, Eisenman enlisted help from the Orthodox Union, which arranged for the challah to be crafted and braided at Strauss Bakery in Brooklyn, N.Y. She visited the facility, saw the dough after it had been braided and recalled being amazed that the “baking crew actually pulled it off.”

From there, it was sent to the David’s Cookies factory in Northern New Jersey, which has ovens large enough to bake the massively oversized bread.

Once baked, the challah was loaded onto a 40-foot, 18-wheeler truck and delivered to Rodeph Sholom, where a group of 30 volunteers from all parts of the Jewish community spontaneously began singing “Am Yisrael Chai” as they carried the oversized item into the synagogue.

Tastes Good Too!

Parents and grandparents snapped pictures of the challah while the kids expressed their admiration. “They knew right away it was something special and that they were part of it,” said Eisenmann, adding that the finished challah was divided up and given to the families to enjoy.

“I had some of the challah, and it was great!” she said. “It was amazing that something so big, made by so many sets of hands, still kept the taste that we’d all expect.”