FISHKILL – Rabbi Zalman Sandhaus and his wife, Goldy, are hoping to bring Jewish families in southern Dutchess County together while educating them about their culture.

That’s why the two started the Pardess Center for Jewish Life in South Dutchess after moving from the rabbi’s native Brooklyn to Dutchess County in 2014.

“We reach out to Jewish residents in southern Dutchess County, primarily to Jewish people who are not necessarily affiliated, who are not so involved with Judaism, and we bring Judaism to their level,” the rabbi said. “We let them experience their heritage and their culture and we make it convenient.”

Since starting the organization two years ago, the couple has hosted a variety of religious and holiday programs. But it was while they were hosting a children’s’ menorah-making class at Home Depot last year that the couple realized there was a need for events Jewish parents could attend with their children.

That’s when the couple decided to host a Challah-making class — the first of many children and parent activities to be held throughout the year, the couple said. On Sunday afternoon, children gathered at the Fishkill Recreational Center, 793 Route 52, with their parents to learn how to make the traditional braided bread, which is typically eaten on the Sabbath or holy days.

“Programs like this make it fun and exciting and it’s very educational for parents and children,” Sandhaus said. The event served as a fun ice breaker for parents to ask questions about their Jewish heritage, while children got to experience the fun side of their faith as they learned to knead, roll, pat and braid dough.

Elisha Posniack of Beacon brought her 4-year-old son, Seth, so he could learn about his roots and try something new and fun.

“He loves to bake and create with his hands,” Posniack said. “Free activities like this for children can be hard to find.”

Seth told the Journal that his favorite part of making the dough was pouring the sugar into the mix.

Children also learned about where the traditional bread comes from, how it’s made and why it’s eaten.

“The bread is typically served during Shabbat dinners and during the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and Yom Kippur,” Goldy Sandhaus said.

The Pardess Center in Fishkill is an affiliate of the global Chabad outreach network, which provides outreach to unaffiliated Jewish people.

“We want children to have a good association with Judaism,” Goldy Sandhaus, who directs the center, said. “Many of them are the only one in their class who is Jewish, so sometimes it doesn’t feel like very much fun to be different. So when there is an opportunity to experience Judaism in a fun way, it makes them feel more proud of their heritage.”

Amanda J. Purcell: apurcell@poughkeepsiejournal.com; 845-437-4807; Twitter: @amandajpurcell