Challah for Hunger is an organization that strives to make the world a better place. We say, “Tikkun Olam,” which means community and coming together. We come together on Thursdays to bake Challah bread for people both in the PSU community and the Jewish community. We then sell the bread so people can eat it on Friday nights before Sabbath. We are fortunate enough that Challah covers the cost of ingredients for us, so we are able to donate half of our profits go to a hunger related organization (ours is the State College Food Bank) and the other half go to the Mazon organization, which is a Jewish organization dedicated to hunger related issues.
Why do you think your organization is important and meaningful on campus?
I think it’s important and meaningful because we affect both Jews and the State College community. A lot of people don’t realize this, but a surprising number of college kids are spending so much money on tuition and housing, they don’t have enough for food. By donating our proceeds to the food bank, we are generating money back into the community and giving back to the students indirectly.
Also, it’s a good way to get Jews involved who don’t necessarily practice very religiously, but want to get involved philanthropically. It’s a great way to introduce Judaism to others while giving back to the community.
How did you decide to take on your role as President of Challah for Hunger?
Freshman year, I showed up to every bake because I met this girl on my floor who introduced me to it. I went by myself, and found it to be so stress relieving for me. I think baking has always been a way to de-stress and has always been a good outlet. I fell in love with it because I love baking, and I love Judaism. I have been on the board since the fall of my Freshman year, serving as secretary and then moving on to Vice President for two years. Now I’m president, and it really has just been a perfect opportunity for me.
As President, I’m trying to make the club more interfaith based. I’m an education major and I’m interested in how culture impacts the classroom. I’ve realized that the kitchen could be a classroom for a cultural exchange. That’s why I want to do an interfaith base for this club. I want to use it as an opportunity to learn more about Judaism. I came from a really diversity community at home – 60% of my community was Asian. So, going to my friends’ houses I would always try different foods. The kitchen is the perfect place to exchange cultures because you’re invited in and shown a new culture.
How does your work with Challah for Hunger give you the opportunity to use your gifts and passions?
I’ve always loved baking – my mom once told me I needed to bake for other people so I wouldn’t be just baking for myself. I was never good at baking bread, so joining this club has actually helped me improve my baking skills.
On a larger scale, I became passionate about making our community a better place. This club is a way to combine interests and made me realize it wasn’t two separate things. I’m reform, and I’m not really religious, so my family and I focus on justice and making the world better more than the religion itself. My work through Challah has allowed me to pursue this ideology.
Also, Challah for Hunger has helped me with my leadership skills. I’m not usually the one making decisions, but now I have this opportunity to talk to people and strengthen my skills. I’m not very confrontational so this has helped me with that, especially since I’m going to be using those skills in my future.
Why do you think your organization makes a difference in this world?
We like to say we bake a difference. It definitely makes an impact in the local community – we make around $1,000 in sales each year. Right now the org’s liaison is using the money to look at hunger on campus and we are trying to focus on being preventive. So, our funding would both go to preventative measures and would have an immediate impact. There’s branches of Challah for Hunger across the country, so we’re helping at local and national levels.
Anything to say for students who might want to join this club?
This club is open to anyone! The kitchen is a really an open place for anyone to join – anyone who is interested in baking, community service, or both should come out and bake with us!