Just a few months into her first year at Whitman College, Talia Rudee started a chapter of Challah for Hunger. Every Friday afternoon you can find her and another volunteer selling fresh-baked challah at Reid Hall — challah that volunteers have made over the previous two days.
She was inspired by Challah for Hunger chapters she’d seen when visiting the Claremont Colleges in previous years. Scripps and Pomona — where her brother, Alex, goes — have chapters.
Even before the club got official approval, “we started baking,” she says. She purchased the ingredients and asked a group of friends to assist.
“I got people who were very committed…so I would have a lot of help,” she says.
Most of the volunteers are not Jewish, but Talia sensed correctly that the type of advocacy work supported by the organization would appeal to Whitman students.
Baking starts on Wednesday, with three to five people making dough at Glover Alston Center, a house owned by the college.
“On Thursday we have a team of people that braid it and stuff it” with flavors including cinnamon and chocolate chips before baking the finished loaves. On Friday, another group bags the challah before the selling starts. The 50 to 60 loaves net about $250, which covers the cost of supplies and a percentage of which is donated to a local charity, in this case Helpline, a Walla Walla homeless aid group.
The Garfield High graduate had never baked bread before this.
“We’re still learning,” she says. “Every week our challah gets better.”
The daughter of Don Rudee and Gail Benezra Rudee, Talia grew up at Temple Beth Am in Seattle and is used to an active Jewish life, something that is limited at the small southwestern Washington school.
“There are a lot of Jewish people” on campus, she says, but for most, Jewish observance is something they practice “with their families at home.”
A small group meets to say Shabbat blessings on Friday evenings and the campus Hillel has about 120 people on its listserve.
Talia is active in her sorority, plays in the school jazz band, and races on the cycling team. She plans to be active in Challah for Hunger for her entire college career. Visit www.challahforhunger.org.
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Toward the end of each season of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s iconic Nutcracker, the company turns one performance into a silly-fest.
“We do a Nutty Nutcracker,” confirmed a member of the corps, Barry Kerollis, who also confirmed that in one show he wore a kippah.
“I was dancing all the time,” explains the 27-year-old Downingtown, Penn., native about how his formal Jewish education ended at 13. Classes at the Chester Valley Dance Academy and performance dominated his free time. He has studied all forms of dance including jazz, tap, modern and Irish step.
Although he first started dance lessons at age 2, at 5 he turned to piano and Tae Kwon Do. As luck would have it, the dance studio next door to his dojo borrowed four boys to play soldiers in their annual Nutcracker. That became an annual tradition and, “slowly…I fell in love with dance,” he says.
Barry leaves PNB at the end of his seventh season, having “reached a point where I need to expand,” he says. “Dance is such a short career that if you feel slightly stagnant you need to make a change.”
He’s auditioned for other companies, but if he doesn’t get a position he and his partner plan to move to New York where he’ll pursue choreography, “something I am pretty passionate about,” and other dance opportunities. He’s even open to some Broadway show work.
While he’s choreographed for advanced students at PNB’s school the past few years, his public choreography debut was in last fall’s Men In Dance showcase, with a piece called Cypher.
Barry augments a schedule packed with classes and rehearsals with a little hot yoga and flute practice when he can. He occasionally still plays the piano and clarinet. Travel is high on his list of fun activities. He went to Israel last summer on a Birthright trip, and Japan, too.
He’ll wrap up the season appearing in Giselle in early June and in the season “Encore” show on June 12 (www.pnb.org). You can watch Barry on YouTube on either the PNB or his own channel at www.youtube.com/user/BKerollis, where you’ll find his new piece, It Gets Better, which he created in honor of the gay rights project of the same name.