by Yocheved Tepper
When I was a kid, my parents had a large burgundy velvet challah cover. Its beauty, though, was somewhat marred by its heavy plastic cover. The contrast between the gold embroidery and the rich velvet was not as impressive when filtered by plastic. The cover also made it harder to fold and store. Eventually I understood why we used it that way. It never needed to be washed. There were no worries about the color fading or stains setting in.
Cherished white challah cover
After my marriage and move to Israel, my husband and I roamed the streets of Geula, a shopping district in Jerusalem with dozens of Judaica stores. We were looking for a challah cover to grace our Shabbat table. We browsed through various fabrics and designs, not sure what we wanted. Finally we agreed on our purchase, a simple white cloth cover with blue sequins and silver embroidery. It did not occur to either of us to look for a plastic covering to protect our treasure.
Several years later, wine spills and small dirty hands touching everything are part of life.
Occasionally I look at the challah cover, no longer a pristine white, and put it in the washing machine, delicate, alone so it shouldn’t get ruined. Then I wonder if I should buy a challah cover that comes in plastic. It may not give the same majestic impression that I’m aiming for as I set the table with fine china and glassware. But at this stage in my life it could be the most practical option.
And of course there's always the compromise option of alternating. Keep the nylon cover on most of the time, but when you have guests, and your kids will (probably) be on their best manners, keep the nylon in the drawer and let your challah shine.
It’s a dilemma that can come up in many areas of life. Do you agree to buy the white skirt that your daughter loves or stick with dark or patterned skirts, use fine china or plastic, cover your windows with elegant drapes or mini-blinds? In the end it’s a choice between beauty and practicality.
Yocheved Tepper was born in Toronto, Canada and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She has been living in Israel with her growing family for the past 12 years. She loves setting a beautiful Shabbat table but not too early in the day, so her kids don’t mess it up.