Invited to Shabbat? In big cities like Los Angeles and New York, you might find a group of modern Jewish adults and their non-Jewish friends gathering for dinner in their favorite restaurant. This dinner is Shabbat and the chef has prepared a special menu for them including a slow-cooked meal, loaves of challah bread and candlelight. These are the modern renditions of the Friday night Shabbat dinner which includes new friends, old traditions, and delicious food.
Around the world, people are doing the same thing at home. Gathering their closest friends and family or inviting guests who are new to the experience or perhaps aren't Jewish but want to participate in this dining ritual. For those who haven't attended here are the basics:
Shabbat begins at sunset.
Two candles are lit: representing the two commandments REMEMBER and OBSERVE.
There is a festive and leisurely dinner-by candlelight. Then the man of the house says a prayer over the wine sanctifying shabbat. There will be a prayer recited for eating challah bread and then the family eats dinner. Foods are usually slow cooked or stewed since cooking is prohibited during shabbat.
After dinner, the grace is recited to the sounds of upbeat music.
There is a great blog called theKitchn which is a lifestyle blog and has a fantastic Shabbat Dinner Menu which could be served at any time of year. The recipes are ones we love like Moroccan chicken and grilled zucchini. Remember we love all things Moroccan at Faithhaus!
Now a few suggestions on where to buy your hosting-or gifting- essentials...
THE MODERN WINE CUP
Our modern take on the Kiddush Cup (otherwise known as wine vessel). This simple recycled beauty by Hawkins NYC is modern and timeless. $8 each.
THE CANDLE HOLDERS
Obsessed with this candlestick no matter what the occasion. This is a very stylish set by CeMMent and yes, made from cement and stainless steel. So cool. $90-$112
Love them with our beautiful beeswax Shabbat candle pair with cotton wicks for a pure burn. $14
CHALLAH BREAD COVER & BREAD BOARD
We suggest buying from your local bakery. But you need something to put your challah on and under. We love these options from Jboutiq. Handwoven by a women's group in Latvia, these linen challah bread covers can do double duty and get softer with age. $35. Each bread/serving board is a unique slice of Oregon burl maple- no two alike. $30 and up.
THE CROCK POT
The Crock Pot. The best $35 spent ever. Trust us, if you don't already have a crock pot these are a life changer. The added bonus is no electricity after sundown. Target
THE HOSTESS GIFT
Should you want to bring a gift for the glowing host, Beautycounter makes all-natural bronzing compacts that are Shabbat (and Yom Tov)-friendly and the perfect gift to give her that summer glow! $39
THE WEDDING GIFT
This Shabbat Set from yours truly, Faithhaus makes for a thoughtful wedding, Hanukkah, or housewarming gift. Five essentials in one gorgeous set: wine tumbler, challah cover, candlesticks, candle holder, and Shabbat prayer. All handcrafted for $68.
We hope this helps you understand what goes into and what gets used at a (modern) Shabbat dinner.
Love & Light
Last week I text my neighbor and ask her what her family is doing for Rosh Hashana.
She says “Well we are bad Jews so, nothing.”
I said “Ok. I will text around for a good Jew and see if I can get some inside scoop for my blog.” She sends a smiley face.
By Sunday I get a message from her, “Do you want to come for dinner for the High Holiday on Monday night?”
“WE WOULD LOVE TO!”
I am so excited to get an invitation to experience other cultures and faith-based holidays.
I text her “Btw, I have an incredibly picky eater so should I bring pizza for him?” Half-joking.
I get “yes, LOL.”
I know by now that apples, honey and SWEETNESS are of utmost importance to this holiday. Since time and money factor into most gift decisions I make, I pick up some Honeycrisp apples - thinking I can hit two things, honey and apples! I also bring a challah bread cover from Jboutiq hoping they don't already have one (they didn’t and she loved it). Oh yah, I also had two half-full bottles of wine- one rose + one sauvignon blanc. Friends don't judge, they drink!
We arrive and I see this amazing display of homemade food- I'm talking HOMEMADE CHALLAH bread- that is so beautiful. I am truly impressed and it's a feast. She tells me that after I had texted her last week she got to thinking and decided they would do something for the holiday. Then once she started cooking she really got into it-seriously, she had never made challah before. I think it's like that no matter what the holiday. You are kind of dread the whole shebang until you get started an all of a sudden the fever hits. That feeling is what makes holidays so special. That and wine.
My picky eater tries everything. He goes back for thirds on the challah. Brisket is perfect. Her husband’s last minute trip to the store for some Montepulciano well worth it (goes v well with brisket). The crowd humors my buzzed over-sharing. The apple gallette is the absolute perfect combination of sweetly cooked apples on a crispy crust with a hint of glazed sugar. Most special was the opening to the dinner, the prayer over the challah bread that her 8 year old daughter sang. I had never seen or heard this so it really was a special experience for us. I'm hoping whatever God/s are up there I can get their blessing too (blessed by association?).
At one point I say “This is so wonderful- so how could you have said you were bad Jews?”
Well, she tells me they hadn't gone to congregation over the holiday, they didn't do all the prayers and the food wasn't kosher. I let her know about my theory which is that holidays are what you make them-and what your kids remember. If they are stressful and negative no one looks forward to them year after year. So this was perfect. Do it as it works for you, your friends and your family. To me they were fabulous Jews. Great food, no judgement on open wine or picky eaters, inclusion of people with a different faith and the spirit of their holiday. I experienced someone's religious celebration and I believe we became better people for that. As we walked home I thanked him for being a good 11 year old at a dinner party and he said he was really glad he got to have that experience. Thank you neighbors!