Con­gre­ga­tion Etz Chaim works with all peo­ple of Am Israel in sup­port­ing their health, spir­i­tual evo­lu­tion, con­nec­tion with HaShem, and Enlightenment.

Our Facil­i­ties

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The Kosher Mikvah

Our mik­vah is a kosher mik­vah open to the skies and rain and receiv­ing puri­fied well water fed into the mik­vah via a water­fall there­fore ful­fill­ing the require­ments for a kosher mik­vah. It is cer­ti­fied kosher by Rabbi Yossie Shem­tov of Tuc­son Chabad. The mik­vah con­tains no chlo­rine, flu­o­rine, or bromine and is puri­fied with hydro­gen per­ox­ide. It has the tra­di­tional seven steps with seven tiles show­ing the seven sacred grains and fruits of Am Yis­rael lead­ing down into the water; and it is sur­rounded by twelve tiles with the sym­bols for the twelve tribes. The mik­vah is in the shape of a womb as the waters of the womb are con­sid­ered most sacred, and tak­ing a mik­vah is con­sid­ered sym­bolic of this rebirth purifi­ca­tion process. The mik­vah is housed in a lovely walled Chanokhian gar­den with live fig, pome­gran­ate, almond, and apple trees. It is main­tained on a bi-weekly basis and may be accessed by appoint­ment with the front desk.

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Kosher Kitchen

Con­gre­ga­tion Etz Chaim is home to the Tree of Life Café – a kosher kitchen serv­ing organic, live-food, vegan meals break­fast, lunch, and din­ner on week­days and brunch and din­ner on week­ends. We grow much of our own pro­duce using organic and veg­anic farm­ing meth­ods. Our café is cer­ti­fied kosher by Rabbi Yossie Shem­tov of Tuc­son Chabad. Rebet­zen Shanti Golds Cousens has devel­oped a kosher, live-food, gluten-free, vegan chal­lah, which we use on Shabbat.

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Ingre­di­ents

3 Cups Dry Raw Oat Groats (with­out husks)

1 1/2 Cups Fil­tered Water

1/2 Cup Raw Mesquite Meal

3 tsp Himalayan Salt or Trans­for­ma­tional Salt (or to taste)

Ste­via to taste (optional)

2 tsp Com­bi­na­tion of Sweet Spices of choice, such as Cin­na­mon, Car­damom, Vanilla pow­der, Nut­meg, Cloves, or Allspice.

2 Cups Flax Seeds, ground in a cof­fee grinder or high-speed blender

1 Cup Cold-Pressed Sesame Oil

To Sprout the Oat Groats

In a large bowl or sprout­ing jar(s), soak the oat groats in puri­fied water for 6–8 hours.  Drain soaked groats, rinse, and drain again.  This can be done in a colan­der if you do not have a sprout­ing jar with a screened lid. Set aside to sprout, rins­ing 3 times a day for 1–2 days. When oat groats have grown small tails they are sprouted and ready to use.

To Pre­pare the Bread
Com­bine sprouted oat groats, fil­tered water, salt, ste­via and spices in a food-processor and process until smooth. Stir in the oil, mesquite meal, and flax seed meal. Allow to sit for at least 5 min­utes in order for flax seed meal to bind the dough.

Sprin­kle work­ing sur­face with addi­tional mesquite flour and cin­na­mon or flaxseed meal to pre­vent dough from stick­ing while form­ing into braided loaves. Dehy­drate at 145°F for one hour.  Reduce heat to 115°F an addi­tional 5–7 hours.

Chal­lah Prayers

The moment of sep­a­rat­ing chal­lah is an espe­cially pro­pi­tious moment for pray­ing for fam­ily and loved ones. You may, of course, offer a per­sonal prayer in your own words, or you can say one of the fol­low­ing.
Prayers to be recited before sep­a­rat­ing challah:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ שֶׁתְּבָרֵךְ עִסָּתֵנוּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁשָּׁלַחְתָּ בְּרָכָה בְּעִסּוֹת אִמּוֹתֵינוּ שָׂרָה, רִבְקָה, רָחֵל וְלֵאָה, וִיקֻיַּם בָּנוּ הַפָּסוּק: “וְרֵאשִׁית עֲרִיסוֹתֵיכֶם תִּתְּנוּ לַכֹּהֵן לְהַנִּיחַ בְּרָכָה אֶל בֵּיתֶךָ”

May it be Your will, our G-d, the G-d of our Fathers, that You bless our dough, as You blessed the dough of our Moth­ers, Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah. And may we be blessed as in the verse: “You shall give the first yield of your dough to the kohen to make a bless­ing rest upon your home.” (Ezekiel 44:30) 

Some have the cus­tom to recite the fol­low­ing verse twice before recit­ing the bless­ing for sep­a­rat­ing chal­lah (Sefer Chukei HaNashim):

וִיהִי נׁעַם אֲדׁנָי אֱלֹהֵינוּ עָלֵינוּ וּמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנָה עָלֵינוּ וּמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ כּוֹנְנֵהוּ.

May the pleas­ant­ness of the L-rd our G-d be upon us; estab­lish for us the work of our hands; estab­lish the work of our hands (Psalms 90:17).
יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁהַמִּצְוָה שֶׁל הַפְרָשַׁת חַלָּה תֵּחָשֵׁב כְּאִלּוּ קִיַּמְתִּיהָ בְּכָל פְּרָטֶיהָ וְדִקְדוּקֶיהָ, וְתֵחָשֵׁב הֲרָמַת הַחַלָּה שֶׁאֲנִי מְרִימָה, כְּמוֹ הַקָּרְבָּן שֶׁהֻקְרַב עַל הַמִּזְבֵּחַ, שֶׁנִּתְקַבֵּל בְּרָצוֹן. וּכְמוֹ שֶׁלְּפָנִים הָיְתָה הַחַלָּה נְתוּנָה לַכֹּהֵן וְהָיְתָה זוֹ לְכַפָּרַת עֲוֹנוֹת, כָּךְ תִּהְיֶה לְכַפָּרָה לַעֲוֹנוֹתַי, וְאָז אֶהְיֶה כְּאִלּוּ נוֹלַדְתִּי מֵחָדָשׁ, נְקִיָּה מֵחֵטְא וְעָוֹן. וְאוּכַל לְקַיֵּם מִצְוַת שַׁבַּת קֹדֶשׁ וְהַיָּמִים הַטּוֹבִים עִם בַּעֲלִי (וִילָדֵינוּ), לִהְיוֹת נִזּוֹנִים מִקְּדֻשַּׁת הַיָּמִים הָאֵלֶּה. וּמֵהַשְׁפָּעָתָהּ שֶׁל מִצְוַת חַלָּה, יִהְיוּ יְלָדֵינוּ נִזּוֹנִים תָּמִיד מִיָּדָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, בְּרֹב רַחֲמָיו וַחֲסָדָיו, וּבְרֹב אַהֲבָה, וְשֶׁתִּתְקַבֵּל מִצְוַת חַלָּה כְּאִלּוּ נָתַתִּי מַעֲשֵׂר. וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁהִנְנִי מְקַיֶּמֶת מִצְוַת חַלָּה בְּכָל לֵב, כָּךְ יִתְעוֹרְרוּ רַחֲמָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְשָׁמְרֵנִי מִצַּעַר וּמִמַּכְאוֹבִים כָּל הַיָּמִים, אָמֵן:

May it be Your will, our G-d, the G-d of our Fathers, that the mitz­vah of sep­a­rat­ing chal­lah be con­sid­ered as if I observed every one of its details. May my rais­ing of the chal­lah be con­sid­ered as the sac­ri­fice that was offered on the altar, which was will­ingly accepted. Just as giv­ing the chal­lah to the kohen in the past served to atone for sins, so may it atone for my sins and I shall be like a per­son reborn, free of sin and trans­gres­sion. May I be able to observe the holy Shab­bat and Fes­ti­vals with my hus­band (and our chil­dren), and be nour­ished from the holi­ness of these days. May the influ­ence of the mitz­vah of chal­lah enable our chil­dren to be always nour­ished by the hands of the Holy One blessed be He, with His abun­dant mercy, loving-kindness, and great love; and the mitz­vah of chal­lah be accepted as though I have given a tithe. And now, as I am ful­fill­ing the mitz­vah of chal­lah with all my heart, so may the com­pas­sion of the Holy One Blessed be He be aroused to keep me from sor­row and pain always, Amen.

Through­out the entire Chal­lah mak­ing process:

Lichvod Shab­bat Kodesh / Yom Tov – May all who eat from the Chal­lah be blessed with the Beracha it con­tains. May it nour­ish their bod­ies to be healthy to do Mitzvot.

Sift flour – Just as I sep­a­rate the good from the bad, Hashem please help me to dis­card the neg­a­tive influ­ences in my life and the lives of my fam­ily. Remove the Yet­zer Hara (bad incli­na­tion) so that only good remains. As I feel the flour I am now part­ners with Hashem.

Sugar – Hashem please sweeten my judg­ment with mercy. Help me judge oth­ers favor­ably and see every­thing with an Ayin Tova (good eye). Help me act with love and Chesed (kind­ness). Bless me with a sweet life and enjoy­ment from rela­tion­ships.  Its sweet­ness sym­bol­izes loving/kindness (חסד) and soft­ness.  May we always be sweet to oth­ers, develop a good eye to see the pos­i­tive in every­thing! May Hashem for­give us and sweeten the judgment!

Salt – Salt has nat­ural bound­aries. The right amount of salt pre­serves and enhances; too much is unhealthy. Hashem, help me to know my lim­its (just like you must limit your salt intake) and to hold back, to think before I speak and act. Help me watch my Tzniut (mod­esty). Let me live accord­ing to the bound­aries of Halacha that You have set up as guide­lines for me. Hashem let me have patience, and let me be sat­is­fied with my lot.

Yeast (Flax) – Hashem please help me to do your will with hap­pi­ness and excite­ment. Yeast in Hebrew = She­marim. Shemira=guard. Hashem grant me your pro­tec­tion and pro­tect us from all phys­i­cal and spir­i­tual harms– from the Yet­zer Hara (bad incli­na­tion), from Lashon Hara (bad speech), and from all bad things. Just as yeast rises, let me rise and get excited to ful­fill my role in life. Help me to have Sim­cha (hap­pi­ness) in my home and in my life. Please bring Refuah Shelema (speedy recov­ery) for all (include names of sick).

Oil (Coconut Oil) – Oil is a sym­bol of Beracha (bless­ing). All Beracha comes from Hashem, and “Birkat Hashem Hi Ta’ashir” — The bless­ing of Hashem will make us rich. Hashem bless me with the oil of life and all of life’s bless­ings, such as health, suc­cess, and wis­dom. Pray for Par­nas­sah (liveli­hood). Hashem please bless me to use my time pro­duc­tively and to learn Torah Lishma (even with­out reward). Shower us with bless­ing from your hands. Bless me to know that every­thing is from your hands. May we merit in the anoint­ing of Mashiach.

Warm Water – “Ein Mayim Elah Torah” (there is no water except for the Torah). As water uni­fies and con­nects all ingre­di­ents, Hashem please help me con­nect to you, your Torah.