It All Rests On The Challah

Another topic I never knew I would be posting about, but here we go! Before we go deep into this whole story, I want to start off by saying I’ve always considered myself more spiritual than religious and I think I have found a bit of a balance between the two at this point in my life. I also want to say, there has always been an aspect of me that has considered Judaism as part of my heritage, my makeup, part of just who I am and not so much has my religion. I think that too also applies to me today. 

I was raised in a reform (VERY reform) Jewish household. My Mother is Jewish, my Father is not religious. We attended services at our synagogue, which I was very active in for quite a lot of my childhood/early adolescence), we did Shabbat prayers at home every Friday night, we celebrated the high holidays, but also ate bacon as well as meat and cheese together. I had a Bat Mitzvah when I was 12 and slowly I started to slip away from the community. 

For quite a while I bounced back and forth between Judaism and Christianity, just wandering a little while. It wasn’t anything special and eventually I just kind of faded away from both, choosing to be spiritual, to pray, but not to follow anything specific religion wise. And that was ok! I was ok, things were great, all was well. 

Then a few things happened in short succession. I’m not a big believer in “signs” or what not, but I do kind of feel like things aligned a little bit to point me in the right direction. 

The first thing was visiting the Synagogue in Rome.

We stopped in the Great Synagogue of Rome and walked through both the museum and the Synagogue and there was something about being presented, front and center, with my heritage that just had me longing for some of it back. So many memories came flooding back, singing in temple, the Friday Night prayers and meal, Challah, the Torah, and the feeling of just having a bit of my “people” back. I don’t know if I realized how much I missed that until that moment. 

Shortly after we got back I started thinking about it a bit more, and then a bit more, and then a bit more. I did a little soul searching to understand what Judaism meant to me and what role I would want it to play in my life. I realized how disconnected I had become to that (even in the reform upbringing that I had). We aren’t a very religious family (in the sense that we don’t go to church, synagogue, follow any of the “rules” of organized religion). My husband is a Catholic and we just kind of blend in the fact of not really practicing anything to much of an extent. I should say- I don’t think that will change, we aren’t going to suddenly become church or synagogue goers, BUT I wanted to know for myself where that longing could fit back in. 

As I was thinking about all of this (I am a notorious over thinker), we experienced one of those things where you can’t help but take it as a “sign” of something. We experienced the most incredible rainbows over the span of a few days, and one night included a double rainbow.

It was one of those moments where the sky is still storming, but the rainbow just breaks through and BAM it just strikes you as an incredible moment. A true feat. I just knew it was a sign. Maybe not necessarily relating to my internal conversations, but a sign of something. 

So, in comes my Challah test. 

One of my favorite things about the Jewish Culture is the food and the meals that are had centering around the food. I LOVED every high holiday as we would gather with friends and family and feast over wonderful hand-crafted meals (until Passover that is). It was just such a warm time and full of fuzzy feelings. Now, I’m a bread lover and one of my favorite additions to the Jewish Meal is Challah. This sweet eggy bread is just…chef’s kiss and when I realized that making this bread was much easier than I originally thought I knew that I had to try and make it. 

My wonderful, irrational, mind turned my making Challah attempt from just a fun thing to try to a high stakes turning point of my internal debate. In my irrational mind, if this worked then that would seal the deal with my faith, heritage, and that part of myself. If it didn’t work, I was lost from that for good. Everything rested on my ability to make this Challah and make it right (aka exactly as I remembered it from my childhood). Really rational, huh?

I gave myself two attempts (because the first attempt was garbage – I had gotten everything but the consistency right – and I didn’t want to “fail myself” based on just that) and it was my second attempt that sealed it. 

*Warning- I’m going to toot my own horn now*

My second attempt at Challah was…incredible. Chef’s Kiss. Beautifully golden, hand crafted with love (and it shows) and tastes exactly like it should. It tasted like something that I had long forgotten, and I felt so…complete in making it. And I knew, that while I wouldn’t be running off to Synagogue tomorrow, that Judaism is still a massive part of who I am. 

Now, I know this all sounds kind of hokey and like I’m walking this fine line of lunacy, BUT I feel like sometimes we fall into that. Sometimes life just brings all of these different, random, moments together to remind us of parts of who we are. And being Jewish is a part of who I am. 

The Great Cell Phone Fiasco

It’s a funny world we live in these days. She had had a cellphone of some sort for about 12 years, but before then she had managed perfectly fine without one. Had she wanted one in Jr. High? Sure, all the “cool kids” had them, but she wasn’t missing out on anything great by not having one. She had survived just fine without one. So, why did not having one now become such a fiasco?

Before they flew over to Germany for their move, they had contacted their phone carrier to determine what their options were for while they were living overseas. They had an idea, but wanted to be sure before they made any decisions. The options were pretty clear, free texting, slow data, and a per minute charge for phone calls that made them not want to make any ever again. She knew that she could call over Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp and just figured that would be work out for them. A fairly straightforward situation.

But, nothing is ever as it seems.

They lasted a week without “full” phone service. Not being able to use their phones to translate from German to English while they were out and about. The maps function taking a very long time to upload. The only time they were able to connect to anything was in their hotel room on the WiFi connection. This wasn’t a huge deal for her as she was in the hotel most days due to only having one vehicle, but when they were out and about it was difficult. Then it became even more obvious that for his work he would need to have full use of his phone at all times.

The decision was made to go with a German phone plan.

Since they only had one vehicle and were trying to get the phones changed quickly, it was determined that her husband would take both her and his phones to the phone place and get them switched over. Together they had reviewed the phone plan options and decided what would be best for them. She was not worried about being without her phone for the day, knowing that when he came home (which was early afternoon at the time), she would have full use of her phone with no problems. Maybe a total of 8 hours and they would be good to go.

She didn’t know how this would affect her one app that she used to stay in contact with her nearest and dearest, so she quickly messaged her to let her know that the number may change. She told her it may be a day or two before they could reconnect, and it may mean changing contact numbers in phones.

They contacted their Stateside mobile carrier about placing their phones on hold, unlocking them to use them internationally. They were lucky to have this option and were going to take full advantage of it. Everything seemed to going smoothly. During the phone call, the customer service rep told them that by unlocking their phones they would have to do a factory reset on each device. A factory reset would delete everything on the phone and the phone would appear to be brand new again.

Her face fell and her heart dropped. A factory reset. She couldn’t believe it.

It’s a funny world that we end up storing so much on our phones. Contacts, Photo’s, Videos, Apps, Notes, the list is endless. Even people who aren’t big into phones still use them on a day to day basis. For her, her phone held EVERYTHING. Photos and videos of their children, notes upon notes for blog posts, book reviews, links for things she was interested in, not to mention all of the apps. Everything was programmed exactly as she liked.

She couldn’t even remember the last time she had backed up her phone, let alone transferred any of the photos, notes, or anything to her computer. It was going to be a LONG night.

She started by backing up her phone, although this doesn’t really save too much it would help her start the process of getting her phone back the way it was. Since it had been so long since she had done it, it took a little while to do.

Once the backup was complete she had to go through the process of importing EVERYTHING. First photos, then videos, then transferring the notes from phone to computer. She was up into the wee hours of the morning making sure everything was transferred over so that when her husband took the phone she could easily transfer back what she wanted.

The next morning, she passed her phone off to her husband confident that everything would go well and that if nothing else, she would have a working phone by the end of the day. One that would work wherever they went.

Later that day, during naptime, her husband walked into their apartment handed her her phone and said:

“Yours isn’t ready yet”

“What?!” Was her immediate reaction. This was not what was supposed to happen.

He had her restart the phone, put the new pin in (for the unlocked phone) and nothing had changed. The phone looked exactly the same as it had when they left.

“That’s not right” he said, “I had to reenter my [I-Tunes] password and do a couple other things first”.

“So you’re telling me my phone is dead right now. It doesn’t work”. She wasn’t worried, but she was worried. She didn’t NEED  a phone like most people may think. She could live without the Social Media, the internet, the photos (which were all successfully on her computer), but she had herself, two young children in a new country and no way to contact anyone? That worried her.

Her concern starting to wash over her ever so slightly, her husband tried to call her phone from his. He dialed her new number and it wouldn’t connect.

They restarted her phone. Reentered the code. The phone didn’t ask for her I-Tunes password and looked the same as it always had. Her husband dialed her number once again. This time it connected.

Relief washer over her. Her world was right again. She tried messaging her friends over the various apps that she used to contact them. Everything worked perfectly. For whatever reason her phone did not need to factory reset in order to work with the unlocked pin. She didn’t know why or if that was correct and she spent about an hour that evening making sure that everything was correct.

In every location her phone indicated the new carrier, new plan, new data. It seemed to have worked and her late hours the night before were not needed.

All was well.

***Author’s Note: I hope that you enjoyed this next installment in Utterly Ridiculous Stories of My Life. It went on a little bit longer than it should have, but I felt it was necessary to include the ending. This story is a particular gem of First World Problems, but it is funny to me as I used to never be so reliant on a cellphone. I never realize how much it really ate into my day to day from chatting to friends, to Social Media, to Music and while we have other options to get in contact with people (namely a very expensive computer), the ease of a cellphone is hard to replace. Out of all of this though I have definitely made even more of a point to put my phone down more and more and not be so “attached” to it.***