Shabbat Candle Club

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Marshall Fire 12/30/21

Hello and Happy New Year from Shabbat Candle Club.  We are very hopeful that 2022 will bring a year of health, exploration, laughter, and healing.

Unfortunately, in our community, 2021 ended in devastation.  All four of us reside in Boulder County, Mara and Kyle in Boulder, and we (Karli and Aaron) in Superior.  On December 30, 2021, the Marshall Fire swept through the towns of Louisville and Superior with such a ferocity that the 30,000 residents from both towns had to quickly evacuate.  Luckily we (Karli, Aaron, and daughters Maggie and Lucy) were able to frantically grab a few belongings, our pets, and leave our neighborhood in bumper-to-bumper traffic.  We weren’t sure where we were going to land, but our dearest friends Mara and Kyle quickly jumped in and assured us that our family had a place to stay in their Boulder home.  In a daze they welcomed us into their home – where we all watched the news frantically through the night.  In the morning we found out our house was still standing and damage-free. We then stayed with Mara and Kyle (and their 3 kids) for 3 days until we could return home.  We are so fortunate to have such incredible friends who did not hesitate to support us in our greatest time of need.

All of us in the 80027 zip code were at the mercy of the wind on December 30th.  We were lucky, but thousands of our neighbors were not.  Over 1000 homes were lost, and many other homes so severely damaged that residents will not be returning home for a long time.  It has been predicted that it will be over 2 years before those who lost their homes will be able to return to their neighborhoods.  We cannot aptly describe the devastation that has occurred.  Complete neighborhoods are now gone – ash, burned rubble, an acrid scent of smoke, shells of cars that have been burned are what replace our once vibrant streets. And we must mention the loss of human life and the dear pets that were lost as well.  These events, memories, and images have traumatized an entire community.

As community members and in the spirit of Tikkun Olam – repairing the world – we feel we must give back to our community and play a part in the needed recovery and healing efforts. With 3 of our Founders growing up in Boulder, and all of us raising families here, we have many friends, Temple congregants, and acquaintances who lost everything.  Everyday we are hearing new stories of loss and pain and with this in mind, we decided that we will be donating our profits from January 15 – February 15th to the Boulder Community Fund and to JEWISHcolorado. These organizations are helping families get back on their feet – we also invite you to donate to them directly if you prefer.  Additionally, we want to allow our Shabbat Candle Club (SCC) family an opportunity to purchase the “Marshall Fire Donation Subscription Box” which we will dontate  to those who have lost their homes and need the respite of Shabbat to help bring in light, hope, and a moment of rest. We’ll be working with local Jewish organizations to get these donated SCC subscriptions to community members in need.  We hope you will join with us in supporting those that have lost everything.

With gratitude and love, 

Karli and Aaron Atwell, co-founders of Shabbat Candle Club


Mara and Kyle Kuczun, co-founders of Shabbat Candle Club

Shabbat Torah Portions

June 2023

Friday, June 2, 2023
Sivan 13, 5783
Shabbat, Torah Reading: Naso

Friday, June 9, 2023
Sivan 20, 5783
Shabbat, Torah Reading: Behaalotecha

Friday, June 16, 2023
Sivan 27, 5783
Shabbat, Torah Reading: Shlach

Friday, June 23, 2023
Tammuz 4, 5783
Shabbat, Torah Reading: Korach

Friday, June 30, 2023
Tammuz 11, 5783
Shabbat, Torah Reading: Chukat-Balak

May 2023

Friday, May 5, 2023
Iyar 14, 5783
Shabbat, Torah Reading: Emor

Friday, May 12, 2023
Iyar 21, 5783
Shabbat, Torah Reading: Behar-Bechukotai

Friday, May 19, 2023
Iyar 28, 5783
Shabbat, Torah Reading: Bamidbar

Friday, May 26, 2023
Sivan 6, 5783
Shabbat, Torah Reading: Shavuot

My Challah Making Adventure

My challah baking adventure began in March – right around the time that everything shut down. No more Friday night services, no more B’nai Mitzvahs to attend, no more ‘pasta nights’ with friends, no more work (as I, along with millions of others, was furloughed). The kids were home all the time, as was my husband. There seemed to be nothing to differentiate the days of the week – every day began to blend into the other. This is where the challah baking comes in. I had never baked challah before, but after curbside pick-up of yeast (SAF Red Instant) and bread flour I was ready to begin. I realized that challah baking gave me a way to mark the end of the week. Using my sturdy mixing bowl and my hands, I added, mixed, kneaded, adjusted, and baked with a strong intent – putting love, calm, hopes and wishes into the process. Creating loaves of challah with care for my family felt like a way to ground and put meaning to my week by starting the ritual of welcoming in Shabbat. For many weeks during this pandemic I have baked, and then my family and I have engaged in the traditions of Shabbat – lighting candles, blessing the wine and challah and taking a moment to close out the week, to rest and reflect, and return to our best selves as we prepare for the week to come. 

The following recipe is one I have adapted from Joan Nathan’s New York Times “My Favorite Challah”. This recipe takes about 3 ½ – 4 hours and make 2 large loaves

1 ½ packages active dry yeast (about 3 1/2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup honey
½ cup vegetable oil, more for greasing bowl
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon salt
8 to 8 ½ cups flour – 4 cups all-purpose flour/4 cups bread flour

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with honey and salt. Gradually add flour – alternating between all-purpose and bread flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. 

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth (About 7-9 minutes). Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. (I put mine in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off.) Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.

To make a 3-braid challah, take half the dough and form it into 3 balls. With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 3 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. Move the outside right strand over the middle strand. Take the outside left strand and move it over the middle strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. Tuck ends underneath. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.

Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking. Bake in middle of oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden. Cool loaves on a rack.

Our Story

In the midst of a global pandemic, as we sat at home on Friday nights (and all nights actually) we missed the joy and community we felt in our old regular days. We wanted to find a way to bring a feeling of peace, calm, and reflection to people in a time where so many of us were feeling isolated and alone. With some extra time on our hands and the desire to stay focused on something positive, we formed Shabbat Candle Club to send strength, healing, beauty, celebration, connection and light into our community and the world. 

The inspiration for Shabbat Candle Club actually came about in March of 2019. Aaron Atwell married Karli and was inspired by her deep commitment to Judaism. After his daughters’ Bat Mitzvahs Aaron was compelled to travel his own Jewish journey. As a 50 year-old, Aaron chose to be called to the Torah to become Bar Mitzvah with 15 others in an adult B’nai Mitzvah. Vayakhel was the Torah portion for that week which included instructions to bring gifts to the Temple made of gold, silver, and copper; blue, purple, and crimson yarns, fine linen, and acacia wood. Aaron made yaads (ceremonial sticks used to follow along while reading from the Torah) from a fallen blaze maple tree in his yard to give as gifts to his cohorts and decorated the yaads accordingly with many beautiful colors. 

As non-Jewish, long time friends, Kyle and Mara wanted to give Aaron a meaningful gift to recognize his Bar Mitzvah that incorporated these special colors as well as recognizing Aaron’s calling to join the Jewish faith. This is where the Shabbat Candle Club was born. Kyle created and gave Aaron the first three-month Shabbat Candle Club subscription with candles in crimson and blue with a golden flame, the specific Torah readings for each Shabbat, candle lighting times and a personalized letter. On the inside of the box they included the hand made sealed “A” that you will still find inside our boxes today- as a nod to the past, the origin of the Shabbat Candle Club, and the lasting strength of life-long, interfaith friendships.

Founders: Mara & Kyle Kuczun (left), and Aaron & Karli (right)

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