Baking有oaves of Love | By: Dr.Barbara Becker Holstein | | Category: Short Story - Love Bookmark and Share

Baking有oaves of Love

This is a story dear to my heart about my adventures in a new world
that brought me back to an old world--a world of my ancestors and
heritage.  As you know, I really believe that it is important to stretch
ourselves--to dare to discover who we are in the most positive terms and then to
let our very essence reflect our individual 'beauty'.  Of course, I mean
beauty in much more than just the external use of the word.  I mean our
capacities for joy, for bettering the world, for befriending others and I could
go on and on

One beautiful Wednesday morning, I drove from my home in suburban New Jersey to
Borough Park in Brooklyn, a densely populated Jewish neighborhood. Men in long
beards, little boys with side curls, and women wearing long, dignified skirts
and wigs filled the streets. On a street of small grocery stores and plain row
houses with well-kept gardens, I found Toby's house. She stood at the top of a
long staircase, and seemed delighted to see me--a warm , friendly woman without
a hint of make-up. Her hair was covered with a kerchief and she wore a
housedress that looked like a bathrobe, the kind my grandmother used to wear.
She also looked five months pregnant. I later discovered that she had 10
children--the oldest, 22, was already married--but only one was currently at
home, a little girl, about two and a half, who clung to her mommy's apron

Toby ushered me into her clean, but by American standards, barren kitchen. There
were no photographs or magnets on the refrigerator, no paintings or wallpaper of
fruit and vegetables, no radio or television吠n fact, no appliances at all. It
was as simple a kitchen as I had ever seen. Yet the old stove was already warm.
I immediately felt a sense of peacefulness as if the whole apartment was
radiating positive energy. The windows were open and even the Brooklyn air
smelled fresh. Children's voices and traffic noises wafted up from the street,
combining to create a silence that somehow felt sacred.

Toby showed me a giant dishpan in which a batch of challah dough was already
rising. She explained that we would need another batch and asked if I wanted to
do this by hand or by electric mixer. I chose the hand method. I was craving to
get my hands into the dough. Toby said that many women prefer using the mixer,
which is easier. However, her radiant face indicated her implicit approval of my

She then produced another giant dishpan and told me to combine five cups of
sifted flour, a cup of oil, five egg yolks, and salt. The leavening yeast was
left to rise in another dish. After a while, when she told me to mix the
ingredients together, I plunged my hands into the redolent mass feeling as if I
were a girl again, playing in a sandbox. I didn't stop mushing until Toby told
me to roll the dough into a giant ball and place it on her countertop. It was
time to knead.

What a transforming experience! I felt as if God's feminine side whispered in my
ear, "You have a wonderful task to do and it involves working this dough to
the point of pure pleasure." For half an hour I pressed, rolled, pushed,
pulled, squeezed, turned and lifted the dough as hard as I could. Toby, an
instinctive teacher, praised my kneading technique and the strength of my hands.
I found myself talking about my grandmother and the homemade challah she made
when I was young. My hands, it seemed, had been inherited from a long line of
women empowered by a sacred undertaking.

When my hands and arms grew tired, Toby encouraged me to rest and have a snack
delicious marble cake, creamy cheesecake, and homemade coffee ice cream紡ll
handmade from the egg whites left over from her challah baking.

After our snack, we returned to our baking. Toby produced a bowl in which the
challah had already risen. That's when I realized that the batch I had fashioned
would be presented to Toby's next student紡 woman I didn't know but to whom I
was giving something very special, just as a stranger had bequeathed her
kneading bowl to me.

I cut my new dough into six pieces, which I then rolled into long, thin strips.
Toby showed me how to braid them. I tried to follow her as she spoke:
"Bring these two strips close together and then bring this one under them
and then it goes up over the right." Or did she say left? "Then the
other goes down, and then you start all over."

I loved braiding the dough. After all the loaves were shaped, we made some
miniature loaves with the leftover dough. Everything went into the oven. Toby
invited me to visit the neighborhood while the bread baked, so I shopped. The
time flew by. When I returned, about an hour later, I found Toby walking down
the steps from her house with big gray plastic garbage bags in her hand, filled
with the fruit of our labor. She placed the bags in the passenger and back seats
of my car. We hugged and kissed each other. She told me to come back any time
for my next lesson.

The aroma filled the car. I had enough challah to last at least a month. Toby
climbed the stairs back to her family, and I began driving toward the Verrazano
Bridge. It was rush hour, but I was calm. I felt as if I had accomplished
something special, a feeling I hadn't had for years, perhaps not since I was a
girl and learned how to skip or ride my bike. The scent of the challah and the
memory of its baking replenished me. I had a restorative sense of a job well

How Can You Relate To This Story?

One of the core ingredients for a Recipe for Enchantment lies in the doing.

Sometimes this doing happens privately, even within one's own mind such as
meditating. Sometimes it happens between people in ways that are refreshing such
as playing together or visiting. There is also a concept of 'doing good deeds'.
When we are doing in the service of others, often a host of positive emotions
take place. The person doing the action can feel happy, uplifted, wanted,
special and certainly the person who is the recipient of the 'doing' can feel
joyful, contented, special, involved, loved.

Think for a moment about when you have been 'doing' in a way that either
enriches your life or someone else痴. Don稚 be shy釦he hardest part of
this may be giving yourself credit where credit is due. Have you helped someone
out? Been there in a special way for a friend? Have you taken good care of
yourself? Been your own best friend by an action you took肪e it a pampering
bath or finally divorcing an abusive spouse? Share some of your 'doings' here.

On the other hand have you felt good when someone gave to you by 'doing'?
Perhaps a teacher gave time and extra tutoring that made all the difference? Or
a friend had a meal waiting when you got home from the hospital? Share what the
person did and how it made you feel.

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein , originator of THE ENCHANTED SELFョ, a method of
bringing delight and meaning into everyday living, invites you to view her new
line of ENCHANTED WOMAN products, downloadable e-books, and free gifts at
Chat with others in Dr. Holstein's e-group,,
and sign up for her free e-group at
Order her book, THE ENCHANTED SELF: A Positive Therapy, or the CD-rom or tape
version and her book RECIPES FOR ENCHANTMENT: The Secret Ingredient is YOU!, or
the ED-rom version, at

Click Here for more stories by Dr.Barbara Becker Holstein