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Challah, the traditional Jewish bread, dates to ancient Israel.
The word itself refers to a tithe of bread that was given to the priests, who had no income. A portion of the dough was sanctified, and the remainder was used for ordinary consumption.
It became customary to serve challah with all Sabbath and holiday meals. Before cutting the bread, a blessing for the food (a motzi) is recited.
Challah arrived in America with Jewish immigrants. The word is pronounced CHAH-luh, with a guttural ch as in the German word ach (here’s an audio pronunciation).
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