In the wake of the murder of George Floyd and a national reckoning on racism and inequality, Julia Godshaw, 29, did not want to sit idly by. With her friend Shelley Greenspan, Godshaw organized community members to bake challot for sale, with all of the proceeds going to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
For Godshaw and Greenspan, Challah for Justice was a Jewish way to speak up against racial injustice.
What was Challah for Justice, and where did the idea come from?
When all of the large-scale protests were happening, my good friend, Shelley, and I felt as if we needed to do something. And since the beginning of this pandemic, I’ve been really connecting more with Shabbat and trying to celebrate Shabbat every week.
The idea came to Shelley that we could make a bunch of challahs, the two of us, and sell them, and all the money would go to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. We posted it online on our social networks, and we woke up the next morning with an unbelievable amount of orders. So we went out and we recruited people to help us bake and ended up making over 100 challahs. With a network of volunteers, we delivered the challahs or arranged them for pickup. We had a central pickup location and the rest we had volunteer delivery drivers going around.
We ended up raising $3,404 for the NAACP. We have a friend who works for Google who helped us get a generous match.
What was meaningful about it?
I was nervous to go out and be in public during the pandemic, but I felt like this was something that we could do to feel as if our voices could be heard, during the exposure of all the racial injustice that’s been happening in our country.
As Jews, we have an obligation to heal the earth, tikkun olam. We have an obligation to make things better. I think everyone felt like they wanted to make a difference and didn’t know how. This community really just rallied around the idea to have our voices heard. It was really something powerful. It was meaningful to be able to do something so big.
The challahs went for people’s Shabbat tables, which I think was also pretty special, being able to help different people connect with Shabbat. The whole thing was really exciting.
Tell us more about the challot (and the bakers).
We got to meet so many cool Jewish women who are incredible challah bakers. One person put on their homemade apricot jam/glaze. We sold za’atar challahs. I made 20-plus cinnamon sugar challahs. These challahs that we received were so beautiful, and you could tell everyone had put a lot of heart and soul and love into it.
How are you celebrating Shabbat in the pandemic? And your marriage!
I’ve been hosting weekly Zoom Shabbat candle lightings, with my family, my husband’s family and our friends from D.C. and from growing up. Rather than feeling like our community was shrinking, we’ve been able to grow who we can spend our Shabbat evenings with.
I got married in my hometown of Denver on Aug. 2, which was our original wedding date. We didn’t want to postpone our marriage but we also really wanted to make sure we were keeping our friends and family safe. We had a very small, socially distant ceremony in the synagogue I grew up going to. We gave out personalized masks that said, “I’m smiling for Kevin and Julia.”
The day was just perfect. It was really special and intimate and lovely. We still really want to be able to celebrate with everyone we love. Our reception is now scheduled for August 2021 in Denver at our original wedding venue.
Tell us about your job.
I am a senior analyst for WWC Global, consulting to the Department of the Navy. I work on a portfolio called enterprise risk management, helping to look at the risks that the Navy faces, from a business side. It’s been really interesting.
What else are you involved in?
I’ve been involved in a number of Jewish organizations in the city. I just finished the Anti-Defamation League’s Glass Leadership Institute, learning about how to combat anti-Semitism and hate. I was a Sixth & I Ambassador, am involved in Jewish Women International JWI, and I’ve been taking Hebrew classes at the [Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center] for the last five years.
I also run a book club. We only read books written by women and meet monthly. We’ve been at it for five years and we’ve moved to a Zoom format. I love having a community of smart, thoughtful women to discuss the issues of the day with and I think there’s nothing like reading a book that helps give you perspective into somebody else’s life.
Anna Lippe is a Washington writer.