Sitting at the impromptu Shabbat dining table we set up that morning, I looked around at my fellow teaching fellows, all clean and bright and wearing their Saturday’s best. We were taking part in the Shabbos Project, an initiative that brings Jews together to celebrate Shabbat on the same day all around the world.
In the traditional sense, we should have been eating Kosher, not listening to music and eating luke warm food heated from the night before. But we had our own idea of what Shabbat meant.
The table was decorated with potluck dishes galore including roasted vegetables, couscous, sweet potato mash, pasta and egg salad. With the contribution of my mom’s special challah French toast (it’s really only special because we use challah…and love) the completely random menu fit into a patchwork of foodie greatness. The fifteen of us split a bottle of wine, singing the Kiddush (blessing over the wine) and looking across at each other in joyous understanding. I smiled at the thought that these misfits, who were strangers only a few months ago, had become a loving, dysfunctional family in such a short amount of time. We were present and aware. Our phones had been set aside, as Bobby (our resident Jew guru) blessed the challah, tearing off bite-sized pieces and chucking them around the table.
We sat and ate, enjoying the fruits of our ill-equipped labor – keep in mind we’re working with next to no counter space, uneven hot plates, knives that bend and maybe even a missing microwave.
My self appointed task was to keep the good vibes rolling, playing classic tunes that would bring any kid from the 90’s to attention. It was the classic R&B that got everyone singing along, and maybe even Christina Aguilera made an appearance. Then the Billy Joel and Frank Sinatra hit and if any of my friends couldn’t guess, I was out of my seat in seconds asking my comrades for a dance.
The air outside was light and the atmosphere inside was even lighter. It was the first time I felt connected to these people without prescribed program activities and mandatory Hebrew classes. We had chosen to create a day for ourselves, where we made the rules and we contributed what we had. Our Shabbat had accomplished something. Otherwise alone and separated, many of us may not have taken the time to take note of the special day. But together, we made an ancient ritual our own with “No Scrubs” on repeat and a crepe cake on par with any delicious bakery in town.
For your listening pleasure…:)