Danger of Eating Shlissel Challah?


shlissel-challahAs is well known, there is a minhag to make shlissel challah for the Shabbos after Pesach. Shlissel challahs are best known as a segulah for parnassah, although there are other several reasons for baking a challah with a key in it. However, some have raised health concerns regarding this minhag. Keys have been found to leave behind unsafe amounts of lead, leading some to suggest that the practice of placing keys in challahs in making shlissel challah may present a danger.

Brass is a soft metal, so lead is added to give keys more strength. Some keys have a silver-colored nickel coating over top the brass, but this wears away. Sucking on car keys is dangerous. Even handling car keys can leave lead on one’s hands. Not all keys are brass; some are aluminum and are lighter weight.

Never give a child real car keys or brass items to play with. Adults should wash hands after handling keys or other brass items, especially if pregnant.

For more info, see here.

In light of the above, some have wondered what harm one may be doing to one’s family by baking a shlissel challah and letting them eat it.

The following report has appeared in The San Diego Union Tribune:

Keys found to leave behind unsafe amounts of lead!

Attorney general files lawsuit over lead content in brass keys

By Caitlin Rother

So you thought you were safe after getting rid of your lead pipes and lead paint.

According to the latest public health warning, now you have to watch yourself and your children around keys.

The warning, which came in state Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s lawsuit this week against 13 manufacturers of brass keys, has some parents in San Diego concerned and confused.

Lockyer’s office found that when the keys are used as intended – held in the hands for 15 seconds while unlocking something – lead in the keys is deposited on the fingers at amounts well above the safe level. Proposition 65, the state measure adopted in 1986 that requires public notice about toxic materials, limits exposure to 0.5 microgram a day.

Lauri Bollinger, a health-conscious parent in El Cajon, said that after the state’s warning she realized she should not have let her toddler chew on her key ring.

But Bollinger does not know what to do with all of her brass keys, each of which contains about 2 percent lead. Similarly, retailers and key manufacturers were left scratching their heads about what to do with this common item that has been around for years with no apparent ill effect on people.

Toxicologists say children under 6 are more vulnerable than adults to lead poisoning, which can cause a decrease in intelligence, clumsiness, a loss of appetite and sleep, and abdominal cramps. And every parent knows that children like to put things in their mouths.

Lead poisoning can be treated with medication.

After learning about the lawsuit, Bollinger, 35, grew more worried when her keys registered in the dangerous level on her home lead tester.

Lockyer said some keys leave lead on hands at a level that is up to 80 times above the 0.5 microgram per-day limit, while the average level detected on hands was about 19 times above the “no significant risk level.”

“My house keys and my car keys that I use every day tested positive,” Bollinger said. “I’d like to figure out how to get nonleaded keys.”

Master Lock Co., one of the manufacturers named in the lawsuit Lockyer filed Tuesday, does not know what it is supposed to do any more than Bollinger does.

“We’re waiting for the other shoe to drop,” said Master Lock Spokesman Todd Robert Murphy. “I mean, what’s (Lockyer) want?”

The lawsuit asks the court for injunctions to prevent the manufacturers from exposing California residents to lead in keys “without first providing clear and reasonable warnings,” and to pay the costs of bringing the suit.

Murphy said the lawsuit came as a total surprise because Master Lock never has received a complaint from any parent whose child got sick after using keys as a teething ring.

“How much damage is actually being done?” He said. “Who is actually being hurt by these products?”

Some car keys are made of stainless steel and contain only trace amounts of lead. But most keys on the market are made of brass because they are more durable and are less likely to break off in a lock. The lead makes the brass easier to cut.

Small retailers such as San Diego Hardware and big chains such as The Home Depot say they use brass key-cutting equipment and make copies using only brass keys. Company representatives at both stores said their key cutters do not wear gloves because it would be too difficult to do the work.

Like Murphy, Bill Haynsworth, an owner of San Diego Hardware, voiced some skepticism about the potential hazards of lead in keys.

“I kind of felt as though there’s possible carcinogens in everything you touch in this world,” Haynsworth said. “Maybe it’s a really bad thing, but at this point, I tend to shrug it off as kind of premature to say the keys have a dangerous amount of lead in them until they do studies that back that up.”

What should people do in the meantime?

“Don’t ask me,” Haynsworth said. “I have no idea.”

State health officials suggested that consumers do what Bollinger did – check lead levels with home detections kits, which can be purchased at many home improvement and hardware stores. People also can contact manufacturers for more specific information on key composition.

Poison control officials and lead experts said this was the first time they had heard about the potential hazards of lead in keys. Sandra Michioku, a Lockyer spokeswoman, said the intent of the lawsuit is to make consumers aware that keys can be a source of lead exposure.

Health officials also suggest that, like Bollinger, concerned parents contact their doctors and ask for a blood lead test.

They recommend that people thoroughly wash their hands after handling keys, particularly before preparing food, eating, smoking, applying makeup or engaging in activities that bring the hands near the face or mouth. They warn parents not to let small children put keys in their mouths and to tell older children to wash their hands after playing with keys.

Consumers can reduce contact with the lead in keys by placing plastic or rubber covers over the heads.

{Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. This Caitlin Rother at the Union Tribune is obviously an anti-semite that wants to abolish Lechem mishna!

    Shlissel Challah is a minhag of klal Yisroel that has been around for generations. There has never been a published and irrefutable medical paper linking shlissel challah to any sort of brain damage or poisoning.

    In all other cases they bring DNA proof, why has no one brought DNA proof??

    Who are these fancy scientists that they can uproot our minhagim based on their modernishe ideas?

    We shall not deviate!!

  2. there many out there who are trying to destroy our Mesorah. Matzav please stop publishing these articles and write things that will strengthen our tradition.

  3. Shlissel chala is based on a christian custom in which they bake bread with a cross on it or in it.

    Go ahead, ask your Rov

  4. Rav Herschel schachter said shlissel challas are darkei emori mamash and it’s based on Easter bread where the Christians used to put a cross on top of their breads and a cross looks very similar to old keys and somehow this “minhag” caught on but is chukar hagoyim

  5. Rav Herschel schachter said shlissel challas are darkei emori mamash and it’s based on Easter bread where the Christians used to put a cross on top of their breads and a cross looks very similar to old keys and somehow this “minhag” caught on but is chukas hagoyim

  6. Never give a child real car keys or brass items to play with. Adults should wash hands after handling keys or other brass items, especially if pregnant.

    Who in the right minds gives a child a key, or any other metal object come to that, to suck on?


  8. For those who are “health conscious,” almost nothing is safe. An article just as long can be written about the dangers of aluminum.

  9. How dare you contest ‘ah alteh alteh minhag” that has been the source of ‘Parnooseh’ for most of our ‘heimisheh Yidden’.

    Are you also against “Metzizh B’pay” ?

  10. just throwing this out there there is a REAL issue with this minhag shtus like tosfas in bb daf 2a which explains that not all minhagim have credence. there is basis to say that this segula is a issur dariso of nechush. the minhag started to represnted what gemera says about panassah and im just curious to see how many people baking the challah know which gemera in meschata tannis that this minhag is based on. why wont people just rely on what tur says that if we want a segula for parnassah then say pashas hamon after davening.

  11. The plastic bag around the challa is dangerous for kids
    if you touch the oven while its hot you might burn yourself
    if you swallow the key you can choke
    You can cut yourself with the Challah knife
    if you stick your hand in the mixer you won’t be able to wave goodby anymore
    Oh! come on

  12. We always made a form of a key out of some small strands of dough, and placed it on top.

    Just make sure to make it big enough, cause eache kid insists that he HAS to get a piece.

  13. Shlissel Challah? I heard it was a minhag Taus based on Easter Bread. They bake fancy breads with the shape of a Cross on it. The old keys looked a lot like a cross. I am aware of those who say there is a segulah from kabbalah about it, but there is difficulty finding a real source in meforshim.

  14. Maybe it’s the other way around. A lot of goyish customs came from ours. Maybe the cross on the Easter bread came from shlissel challa. After all we had Pesach before they had Easter and they always copied us. Any way I wrap the key in unbleached parchment paper, sparing me from the dangers of aluminum foil and lead, and to cover all the minhagim, i also make a challo in the shape of a key, and a regular challo with a kep shaped piec of dough on top! HAVE A NICE DAY EVERYONE.

  15. Shlisel Chalah has a mekor in several chasidishe seforim, there are 3 different ways mentioned, one is to bake chalah with the key, one is just to poke the key in the dough (and thats it), and one is to make a shape of a key with dough.

  16. It could be true what R’ Schachter is saying, however,I believe that it is the Christians who adopt customs from the Jews not the other way around. For example, Christians celebrate Good Friday by waving leaves from palm trees. This custom comes from the Lulav we shake on Succos.

  17. The real source of the minhag has nothing to do with any of the above comments.The source of the minhag is the key to the “yoshon” cellar where the “chadash” grain was kept until after Pesach.

  18. Same nonsense every year. Shtusim on top of shtusim! Tell me one person that got wealthy from making some challa with a key inside?

  19. To Mr. Secular:
    Are you Christian that you know their minhogim, or are a simple secular (??????? ???”?) whatever you are, or don’t know yourself what you are?

    Team up with Bubba masos. He sounds very similar to you.

    And Ben Torah, you’re looking at the wrong calendar.

  20. to # 33- – it is brought down in seforim hakedoshim that Yosef Mokir Shabbos was zoche to his great wealth (from the Jewel in the belly of a fish) because he was very makpid on the minhag of schlissel challah.

  21. The real minhag comes from making the transition from Pesach to after Pesach. Some people had leftover matza and would have liked to continue eating it until it was used up. So the minhag came about in order to separate the mitzva of matza on Pesach from the rest of the year.

  22. the “minhag” of shlissel challa does NOT come from the christians, rather it comes from the gypsies. So if you like being like the gypsies, then go bake your shlissel challa.

  23. “Tell me one person that got wealthy from making some challa with a key inside?”

    The bakers, who charge an extra dollar for each such challah they sell (with blank keys baked inside).

  24. Just because a ?????? ??????? writes a seemingly scholarly paper which in fact is nothing more than his theories and all idiots jump unto his garbage wagon and whoever can comes up with more outlandish stupidity, does not give anybody the right to be ????? on an old ???? which goes back many generations of ??????? ????? and ?????? ???? ??? ?????.