Shabbat shalom
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Shabbat shalom

Shabbat shalom, what? It’s Sunday!

Well, I’ll give you that one, it is Sunday. This post is about this past Shabbat and The Big Lipowsky’s adventures in hosting a Shabbat dinner.

Back in 2000 I went on Birthright Israel. It was a fantastic trip and although I cannot credit it for influencing my level of Jewish affiliation, it did have a fantastic impact on me. Well, Birthright Next is a follow-up program and one of the programs is called Next Shabbat. I signed up to host a Shabbat dinner through the organization and I invited 17 of my closest friends. Of those, 15 said yes for the dinner scheduled for this past Friday. During my freshman year of college I was food chair of Hillel, which meant I prepared Shabbat dinner every week for some 60 people. So cooking for 15 didn’t really scare me. Fitting them all into my apartment, however, was another story.

Using my existing round table and 6-foot folding table and a second borrowed 6-foot table, I actually managed to set up 16 seats in my living room. My menu of bristdekel (not brisket), meatloaf, shwarma, potato salad, chicken soup, and spiced red cabbage with apples and onions (all homemade, by the way) had come together. At about 7 on Friday I quickly ran out in the rain to grab some Tofutti sour cream I had left in the office refrigerator so I could make my tzatziki sauce to go with my Mediterranean meatloaf (onion, garlic, salt, pepper, mixed into the meat and then salt, pepper, zahatar, and garlic dry rub on top) and I am all set by 7:30 when ….wait for it… the lights go out. Yes, folks, a black out swept across about a four-block radius.

I quickly grabbed my box of 100 Shabbat candles and three candelabras and set them up throughout the apartment. Fortunately, my gas stove and oven kept working but my rice cooker shorted out. Second one to bite the dust – the same way no less.

8 o’clock arrives. Then 8:10. I start to wonder, “What if people decide to just stay home because of the blackout?” Then they started to trickle in, except for one family of five who had gone away for the weekend. With kiddush cup in one hand and a siddur in the other, I hunched over toward one of the candles to read kiddush. We slowly make our way to the kitchen to wash before hamotzi and after everybody sits down again and just before I am about to wash, miracle of miracles, the lights come back on.

And that’s how Shabbat was saved. And yes, it was delicious.

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