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Jewish Pandemic Baking in Chicago: More about Motzi

motzi challah 606 chitribe

Have you been baking during the Pandemic?

Meet Phoebe Skowronski and Kadi House, who are also baking during the pandemic! ChiTribe wanted to learn more about their passion project and new Instagram account Motzi featuring homemade Challahs and Macarons. Learn more and find out how to taste these delicious treats.


Meet Phoebe and Kadi

Where are you both from?

Phoebe: I’m from Chicago, IL. I grew up in the Edgewater and Rogers Park (East Rogers Park) Neighborhoods. 

Kadi: Redondo Beach, CA — & I’ve been living in Chicago since fall 2014!

Challah obviously is a huge part of the tradition of Shabbat. The ritual of sharing bread together at the Shabbat table is special to both of us. 

Phoebe and Kadi

What did you do Jewish growing up?

Phoebe: I grew up going to Emanuel Congregation. Sunday School, Hebrew School, etc. I went to OSRUI a couple of summers as well. 

Kadi: Summer camp! I started as a day camper at my synagogue… And then went on to be a CIT at Camp Newman and a staff member for 6 years at Camp Kalsman. I was also fairly involved at the synagogue I grew up at, Temple Menorah, participating in youth group activities, and working as a song leader/ madricha.

motzi challah 606 chitribe

How did you meet and decide that you wanted to do this? 

I mean, how do any Jewish friends meet each other in Chicago!? We’ve been to Jewish happy hours together, participated in Menches and Motion, led LEADS together, went to Trybal Gatherings together, we’ve done all the things which obviously sparked the friendship flame! Which brings us to 2020. It’s no surprise to anyone that this year has been tough. At the beginning of the pandemic we both found ourselves looking for social interactions which lead to many hours on HOUSEPARTY (shoutout Houseparty crew, iykyk). Through this app, we’ve spent a stupid amount of hours hanging out, dishing the tea about the guys we’ve dated and brainstorming our next creative adventures! And surprise surprise, we both found ourselves baking a lot during the pandemic! Which brought us to Motzi– How can we continue to bake, and share our creations with our communities? 

What baking did you do growing up? How did you get into the baking game?!

Phoebe: None! Back in Fall 2017, I was convinced to attend the Mega Challah Bake hosted by the Jewish Women’s Circle of Milwaukee (I used to live in Milwaukee, WI). If you google Challah and my name you can find an article about the event and find a picture of me holding my first ever loaves! Probably a month or so later, Mushka Lein, the Rebbetzin at the Chabad of the Eastside (in Milwaukee), who was also a chair of the mega bake, started hosting monthly Challah Bakes, and each month we would make a different flavor.

Kadi: Just for fun; I did a lot of baking with friends after school and on the weekends. I just really enjoy baking as a form of relaxation and self-care. Pre-covid, I’d love to host Shabbat dinner parties and I loved to cook and bake for my friends. Since covid though, like many others, I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen exploring new recipes and trying new things! This summer, one of my closest friends from childhood– Hi Sara– was experimenting with making macarons and I decided to join her! We would facetime together and compare notes on the texture of our meringue. We still find ourselves sending recipe ideas and processes back and forth to each other!

What does Jewish food mean to you? 

Both of us enjoy Shabbat. We enjoy the set ritual each week where we get to sit down with those who are close to us and share a meal together. We like pausing and being present and focusing on the moment. Challah obviously is a huge part of the tradition of Shabbat. The ritual of sharing bread together at the Shabbat table is special to both of us. 

The Motzi bracha, or blessing, is usually recited before consuming bread. “Ha-motzi lechem min ha’aretz”, the words from this bracha, mean “who brings forth bread from the earth.”  When deciding on a name, we felt that this idea of being thankful about bringing forth bread (grain) from the earth was an important part of Shabbat. We also discussed how this bracha could encompass more than just bread, or challah, but also anything that’s created out of grain… like macarons! (YES, macarons are made with almond flour, but just imagine with us!!!) 

At Motzi, we like to think that challah and sharing treats can be special and replicated at any point in the week. And that’s what we do, we want to offer the option to replicate the intention and uniqueness of Shabbat every day! Hey! Wanna have a Shabbat-ful moment on a Tuesday afternoon? Grab a challah and some macarons from Motzi!

Tell us more about what Motzi is up to!

We do bi-weekly predetermined flavor bakes of challah and macarons. We suggest that you follow us on Instagram and Facebook for updates on when and what our flavors will be for any given week. We expect that we will sell out for each bake, so it is encouraged to submit your order as soon as it is announced. If you are interested in a specialty order, please email us at motzi606@gmail.com to discuss.  

motzi challah 606 chitribe

How do we order? 

You complete this form, that can also be found on our social media pages. We bake our orders to fulfill the requests we get. By completing the form, our customers are committing to their order/purchase. After you fill out this order request, we will contact you to go over details and availability before the order is completed and confirmed. Without confirmation, we cannot guarantee your order choice will be available.

Prices for Motzi

$8 for a Challah Loaf & $8 for 5 Macarons

How do you stay motivated during the Pandemic?

Phoebe – I started setting monthly goals back in May. Examples being: 10,000 steps a day, eat fresh vegetables for breakfast, work on a family tree daily. All of my goals are daily goals but my goal is to only work on it for a month. It seems to really be working. I’ve even gotten a few friends to join in!

Kadi- Phoebe motivated me with her monthly goal setting & I’ve joined her in this! I keep track of my monthly goals in my bullet journal. I think for me, I am excited and motivated by small changes! A personal achievement in this pandemic is becoming a better runner. I started running in July, with just one mile daily and now I am training for a 10k. I am so excited that I am able to run far distances; distances I’ve never been able to run before!

motzi challah 606 chitribe

In non-pandemic times…What is your favorite Jewish spot for food?

Phoebe – Kadi’s Kitchen!

Kadi- ugh, anywhere in Israel for hummus. 

When the Tribe Gathers… Bring a treat from Motzi to share!


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