When Laizer Solash, from Far Rockaway, New York, lost his job three years ago, he was ready to do just about anything to support his wife and four children. Never in a million years could he have imagined that he’d be making his dough by baking it. Now he’s putting bread on everyone’s table!
Successful owner and head baker of Solash Challah Bakery, Solash, thirty-eight, produces and delivers 100 to 1,000 challot per week to homes throughout Far Rockaway and the Five Towns. And like his challot, Solash keeps rising to the challenge.
After he lost his job as an electrician’s assistant, Solash struggled to make ends meet. One erev Shabbat Solash’s wife suggested that they save money by baking instead of buying challah—she then assigned him the job. To Solash’s surprise, his family and guests relished the results.
Neighbors began calling with orders for the heavenly homemade challah. When the weekly orders began doubling and then tripling, Solash suspected that he may have hit on something big. “I thought that maybe this was the Ribbono Shel Olam’s way of telling me that baking challah was my next profession,” says Solash. He decided to advertise in a local newspaper; the response was overwhelming.
Every Thursday night, Solash raced to fill the mounting orders—mixing, kneading, and sneaking in a nap while the dough rose. Since his oven only accommodated eight challot at a time, he often finished at daybreak. Solash would then load up the copious loaves and drive around town making deliveries (the bakery offers free delivery). “It was sink or swim,” says Solash. “But seeing the orders going out and the money coming in, I thought, ‘this is it—it’s a business!’”
As Rosh Hashanah approached, a customer called asking for 100 challot to give out to his employees as well as to his family. In that moment, Solash realized the true value of his product—and the limits of his kitchen space. “I stayed up for two days straight,” he says. “I started on Wednesday and by Thursday, at around midnight, I was seeing triple. I put twenty-five pounds of kneaded dough into a huge plastic storage bin, placed it on top of the oven to rise and collapsed on the couch. I was out for about an hour and woke up to a thud. I walked into the kitchen and saw an enormous pile of dough on the floor. Exhausted, I said gam zu l’tovah, made another batch and delivered it all in time for yom tov. It was very stressful, tiring, and very rewarding.”
A friend in the catering business heard about Solash’s space predicament and offered the use of his commercial kitchen. Solash promptly hired three workers and his wife perfected the production’s time management.
The bakery recently added whole-wheat challot, sandwich rolls, and muffins to its tasty menu. Solash has plans to branch out and distribute his bakery line to stores by next year.
Owning a business isn’t so easy, Solash concedes, but he feels grateful to be busy doing what he likes. He also acknowledges the spiritual benefits. “Most people rely on their weekly pay check; I don’t have that luxury,” he says. “One week I could make $200 and the next $1,500. I can clearly see that it all comes from the Ribbono Shel Olam.” He also takes pride in providing customers with a quality product. “I’ve been told that people can’t have a Shabbat seudah without us,” he says.
Bayla Sheva Brenner is senior writer in the OU Communications and Marketing Department.
To order delicious fresh challah, call 718-337-6706 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.