Live from NY, Guinness record-breaker, with help from OU, Strauss, and David’s


A New York Jewish community has created what it believes is the world’s longest challah, and hopes it’s recognized as a Guinness World Record.

The effort to shape and bake the 35-foot-long braided bread was undertaken as part of the “Shabbat of Love” — a national event sponsored by the Jewish Federations of North America to spread “love for the Jewish people at one of our darkest times.”

JFNA advanced the challah initiative as part of “Shabbat of Love” in partnership with the Orthodox Union, involving 30,000 participants and more than 240 organizations on Jan. 19.

Spearheading the record-breaking build was the Rodeph Sholom School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, affilated with the Reform Congregation Rodeph Sholom.

The brainchild behind the endeavor was Sarah Eisenman, chief community and Jewish life officer at JFNA and parent of a student at the Rodeph Sholom School. She was looking for an activity that would “bring Jewish pride and Jewish joy” on the day of the event, and “during a late evening of scrolling through articles found that there is a world record for the longest challah, and I knew we could surpass it.”

That record was held by Grandma Moses Bakery in Australia, which won the title in 2019 for making a 32-foot-long challah in conjunction with the Jewish National Fund-Australia.

Eisenman enlisted help from the Orthodox Union, which arranged for the challah to be crafted and braided at Strauss Bakery in Brooklyn. She visited the facility, saw the dough after it had been braided, and recalled being amazed that the “baking crew actually pulled it off.”

From there, it was sent to the David’s Cookies factory in New Jersey, which has ovens large enough to bake the massively oversized bread.

Once baked, the challah was loaded onto a 40-foot, 18-wheeler truck and delivered to Rodeph Sholom, where a group of 30 volunteers from all parts of the Jewish community spontaneously began singing “Am Yisrael Chai” as they carried the oversized item into the synagogue building.

Parents and grandparents snapped pictures of the challah while kids expressed their admiration.

“They knew right away it was something special and that they were part of it,” said Eisenmann, adding that the finished challah was divided up and given to the families to enjoy.

“I had some of the challah, and it was great!” she said. “It was amazing that something so big, made by so many sets of hands, still kept the taste that we’d all expect.”

Summing up the experience, Eisenman said: “It was a simple and sweet embodiment of Jewish pride and love.”

Proof documenting the results have been sent to Guinness, and those involved are awaitng their ruling.