This jack knife was once used by the donor’s father on Shabbat to cut the challah.  This type of knife, where the blade could be tucked into its case and thus hidden during the grace after meals, was the preferred type of knife for Sabbath meals by many Eastern European Jews because it was preferable not to have a blade on the table during the after dinner prayers. 
One interpretation for this concept is based on the story of a man who was reciting grace after having eaten dinner when he became so distressed by the thought of the destruction of the Temple while reciting a prayer asking God to restore the destroyed Temple and the city of Jerusalem; that he stabbed himself with a knife left out on the table.  Another explanation for the removal or covering of any blades is that the meal table is comparable to the Altar in the Temple that once stood in Jerusalem and just as the use of iron tools to cleave the stones for the Alter is prohibited, metal knives are prohibited while saying grace after meals.  

Jackknife for Sabbath Hallah with mother-of-pearl inlay, Collection of Yeshiva University Museum, Gift of Sylvia Axelrod Herskowitz

Can challah baked in the shape of a key unlock the gates of productivity? The upcoming post-Passover Sabbath is the time to find out.

I got published in The Forward! Why some people are baking a key on their challah (or a key-shaped challah).

Parnasa for the rabbis is the concept of self-sufficiency, that every person has the ability to be a contributing member of a community, that they can create things, that they can support themselves, their community, a family… Parnasa is about taking wheat and making bread. And since everything has a gate, the Apter Rebbe concludes, the key represents the opening of the gates of parnasa.”


Just now finding out how absolutely perfect the singer from mazzy star is *-*

May the new year be like the sweet, round Rosh Hashana Hallah.  May it be good and full of sweet surprises, like the raisins hidden in the Hallah.  May it bring wholeness, so that we may all live harmoniously within ourselves and with others.  May it bring the richness of color, flavor and aroma into our lives.  May it bring some holiness into our homes.  May it bring us joy, just like when we break Hallah with family and friends.  ShanahTova!