Author Archives: Julie Seltzer

Julie Seltzer

About Julie Seltzer

Julie Seltzer is a scribe, baker, and artist. She began creating challah art at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut, where she lived until recently. Julie now resides in the Bay Area, where she is writing a torah scroll at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

Challah for V’Zot Haberakhah

Every week, Julie Seltzer, artist and Torah scribe, bakes a challah depicting an aspect of the week’s Torah portion.

 

 

And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah…and Moses the servant of God died there. (Deuteronomy 34:1,5)


וַיַּעַל משֶׁה מֵעַרְבת מוֹאָב, אֶל-הַר נְבוֹ, ראשׁ הַפִּסְגָּה…וַיָּמָת שָׁם משֶׁה עֶבֶד-יְהוָה


death of moses

In the last parashah of the Torah, Moses dies. Here we see Moses in the light of day, at the top of the mountain, laying down to die–he will not get to see the Promised Land.

Challah for Parashat Ha’azinu

Every week, Julie Seltzer, artist and Torah scribe, bakes a challah depicting an aspect of the week’s Torah portion.

 

 

 

And Moses spoke in the ears of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song. (Deuteronomy 31:30)



וַיְדַבֵּר משֶׁה, בְּאָזְנֵי כָּל-קְהַל יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֶת-דִּבְרֵי הַשִּׁירָה, הַזּאת



challah ear

This line from the Torah is the basis for the 613th commandment, which is to actually write the song/text of the Torah. What you see depicted here is the giant ear of the Israelites, with the words “Hashira Hazot,” meaning “This Song.”

Challah for Parashat Vayelekh

Every week, Julie Seltzer, artist and Torah scribe, bakes a challah depicting an aspect of the week’s Torah portion.

 

 




The priests, the sons of Levi, the carriers of the ark of the covenant of God. (Deuteronomy 31:9)


הַכּהֲנִים בְּנֵי לֵוִי, הַנּשְׂאִים אֶת-אֲרוֹן בְּרִית יְהוָה


kohanim ark

Here we see two Levites carrying the ark. At the top of the ark are the two keruvim (cherubs) that perch face to face.

Challah for Parashat Nitzavim

Every week, Julie Seltzer, artist and Torah scribe, bakes a challah depicting an aspect of the week’s Torah portion.

 

 

 

It is not in heaven…Neither is it beyond the sea…For the word is very close to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you can do it. (Deuteronomy 30:12-14)


לא בַשָמַים הִיא… וְלא-מֵעֵבֶר לַיָּם, הִוא… כִּי-קָרוֹב אֵלֶיךָ הַדָּבָר, מְאד: בְּפִיךָ וּבִלְבָבְךָ, לַעֲשׂתוֹ

challah for parashat nitzavim

“It is not in heaven” is often quoted to mean that how we do Jewish is up to us, not God, to decide. In the context of the Torah, however, it means that torah is not far away or incomprehensible. The torah is already inside of us. The challah that you see here are: A person in a hot air balloon, and a person in a ship, mistakenly searching in a far-off place for the torah.

Challah for Parashat Ki Tavo

Every week, Julie Seltzer, artist and Torah scribe, bakes a challah depicting an aspect of the week’s Torah portion.

 

 

 

You will be blessed in the city and you will be blessed in the field.
(Deuteronomy 28:3)


בָרוךְ אַתָה בָעִיר ובָרוךְ אַתָה בַשׂדֶה




 

field and city challah

Here we see the city of Jerusalem, with the Western Wall and the cityscape above. Below, we see a field, full of abundantly growing plants. The sign at the field says “Sde Halomot,” meaning “Field of Dreams.” This sign exists at an actual field: it’s the entrance sign for the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center Farm.

Challah for Parashat Ki Tetze

Every week, Julie Seltzer, artist and Torah scribe, bakes a challah depicting an aspect of the week’s Torah portion.

 

 

 

A man’s garment will not be on a woman, and a man will not wear woman’s dress. (Deuteronomy 22:5)


לא-יִהְיֶה כְלִי-גֶבֶר עַל-אִשָּׁה, וְלא-יִלְבַּשׁ גֶּבֶר שִׂמְלַת אִשָּׁה


challah for ki tetze

The torah warns against it, but I couldn’t help but cross-dress these man and woman challahs…as you can see, the challah with the breasts is wearing a tie.

Challah for Parashat Shoftim

Every week, Julie Seltzer, artist and Torah scribe, bakes a challah depicting an aspect of the week’s Torah portion.

 
 

 

If a dead body is found…your elders and judges will go out and measure the distance from the body to the nearest cities. (Deuteronomy 21:1,2)



כִּי-יִמָּצֵא חָלָל
…וְיָצְאוּ זְקֵנֶיךָ, וְשׁפְטֶיךָ; וּמָדְדוּ, אֶל-הֶעָרִים, אֲשֶׁר סְבִיבת הֶחָלָל

 

Here we see a John Doe challah. He is surrounded by tape, just like in television shows. At his side is a challah measuring tape, which will be used to measure the distance from the body to the nearest city, as the Torah commands.

Challah for Parashat Re’eh

Every week, Julie Seltzer, artist and Torah scribe, bakes a challah depicting an aspect of the week’s Torah portion.

Do Passover…

וְעָשִׂיתָ פֶּסַח


And do Shavuot…

וְעָשִׂיתָ חַג שָׁבֻעוֹת


And do Sukkot…

חַג הַסֻּכּת תַּעֲשֶׂה


(Deuteronomy 16:1,10,13)

shalosh regalim

The challahs that you see depicted are: A piece of challah matzah (for Passover); a bundle of wheat (Shavuot harvest); a lulav and etrog (what we shake under the sukkah on Sukkot).

Challah for Parashat Ekev

Every week, Julie Seltzer, artist and Torah scribe, bakes a challah depicting an aspect of the week’s Torah portion.

A land of wheat and barley, and vines [grapes] and figs and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and [date] honey. (Deuteronomy 8:8)

אֶרֶץ חִטָּה וּשְׂערָה, וְגֶפֶן וּתְאֵנָה וְרִמּוֹן; אֶרֶץ-זֵית שֶׁמֶן, וּדְבָשׁ


challah for parashat ekev

The shape of the challah is of ancient Israel. Though you can’t tell by looking at it, the dough was made with all seven species.

Challah for Parashat Va’et’hanan

Every week, Julie Seltzer, artist and Torah scribe, bakes a challah depicting an aspect of the week’s Torah portion.

Bind them as a sign on your hand and a symbol between your eyes. (Deuteronomy 6:8)

וּקְשַׁרְתָּם לְאוֹת, עַל-יָדֶךָ; וְהָיוּ לְטטָפת, בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ




vaethanan

This line was interpreted literally by the rabbis. The teffilin boxes have little scrolls with words of the torah inside, and are placed on the arm and on the head (between the eyes). In this teffilin challah, you can see one method of wrapping: seven times around the arm, with the letter Shin formed at the end. On the teffilin for the head, you see the Hebrew words “shel rosh,” meaning “for the head.”

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