Jewish group sells challah to end hunger


Shelby Tauber

Business junior Tory Haddix, biology sophomore Marissa Shiller and government junior Regan Donnenfield weigh bread dough for Challah for Hunger at the Texas Tilleh Tuesday afternoon.

Taylor Hampton

For Texas Challah for Hunger, a student organization working to raise funds for hunger relief, food is a big part of the equation. The organization sells bread on the West Mall every Wednesday to raise awareness and funds for hunger relief.

Volunteers for Texas Challah for Hunger gather at Texas Hillel, a local Jewish center, Tuesday evenings to make and braid the challah dough. Challah bread is a traditional Jewish bread that was originally used in religious rituals but has now become a part of the Jewish culture. The UT chapter is one of more than 40 chapters nationwide. It donates 50 percent of its profits to the Capitol Area Food Bank, an organization that distributes food and social service in Central Texas.

In addition, each chapter donates half its profits to American Jewish World Service, which uses this money to aid their efforts in Sudan working with refugees.

The organization sets up a table in the West Mall from noon to 3 p.m. to sell challah baked that morning. Each loaf costs $5.

“People smell our fresh baked bread, and people stop and look at us,” Talia Noorily, president of Texas Challah for Hunger, said. “This is how we can do our advocacy.”

Noorily said the Texas Challah for Hunger is a service and advocacy group. She said the smell of fresh bread brings curious people to its table to learn more about the group. Last year the UT chapter raised $7,200 with $3,600 donated to the national cause, and $3,600 going directly to relieve hunger here in Austin.

“We learn about issues and try to fix them,” Noorily said.

At its table on Wednesdays, volunteers educate passerbys with information about the need for hunger relief in Sudan and Austin, Noorily said. She also said the organization calls senators and writes letters to the president. She said the new educational goal of the organization is to focus on telling people about the current events happening in Sudan, which has been plagued by genocide, and Austin.

Government junior Regan Donnenfield has volunteered with the organization for three years and said there is a steady stream of UT and community support.

“We have regulars that come every week,” Donnenfield said.

Former president of Texas Challah for Hunger Zoe Bernbaum said the organization has a Jewish influence, but not all the volunteers are Jewish. Bernbaum said Challah for Hunger demonstrates traditional Jewish values through community service. She said they are trying to alleviate world hunger, and used a Hebrew phrase “tikkun olam,” which means “repairing the world.”

Tuesday night was Challah for Hunger’s first meeting of the semester. Noorily said close to 50 volunteers showed up to help braid.

“There are so many ways to get involved by making the bread or buying,” Noorily said. “Each part is essential and everyone can feel fulfilled.”