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Between the Braids    

Between the Braids

Between the braids of a home-baked Shabbat challa are the thoughts, aspirations, and personal prayers of the Jewish wife and mother…


What's in the spaces between the braids
Of these new challahs I just made?
How much of me is hidden there?
Between the braids my thoughts appear.

First I sifted the flour through,
Thinking of what else I could do.
Who wants to be here, baking bread?
I could write my first book instead.

I added each ingredient,
And wondered why my soul was sent.
I cracked two eggs, and then two more.
Is this what I was created for?

"Shabbos Kodesh...Shabbos Kodesh,"
My lips whisper, hands knead the dough.
Let me see my work is holy,
Raising high what seems so low.

Does the challah absorb frustration?
Does the challah hear my voice, so shrill?
Does the challah absorb my confusion,
As it rises for hours on the windowsill?

I've heard that Sarah, our first mother,
Once had the right recipe.
What happened to it through the years -
Is there a copy left for me?

Stuck here in the kitchen,
And still longing for fame.
When did simple giving
Get such a bad name?

"Shabbos Kodesh...Shabbos Kodesh,"
Open up my eyes.
Let me see my work is holy.
Let me stop chasing lies.

On Friday night, my husband
Makes a blessing, and I know
Just what's inside those challahs -
Though I wouldn't tell him so.

He cuts them up, we eat them,
And I can't help but smile,
For all that work, I used to think,
They last such a short while.

But this time - I see what's left -
I know what's hidden there.
In the empty spaces between the braids -
That's where my thoughts appear.

When every crumb,
Has vanished from,
The challahs that I made,
What will remain?
Just my secret struggles,
Offered up between the braids.

(Bracha Goetz is the Harvard-educated author of eleven children's books, including The Happiness Box, The Invisible Book, and What Do You See at Home? To enjoy Bracha's presentations, you're welcome to email bgoetzster@gmail.com)

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