Congregation Or Haneshamah has announced a new initiative called Shabbat Around the Table to which members invite Jewish and non-Jewish guests to join them for Shabbat dinner at their homes. The first event took place in January, and I was reminded of a time when I was welcomed at a Shabbat table.
I lived in Amsterdam for a few months in 2014 and I sought out the Jewish community there. I was so moved by the generosity of the people I met at Liberaal Joodse Gemeente and Beit Ha Chidush. Just one week after meeting Mirjiam at a Shacharit service, she invited me to her house one sweltering Friday afternoon to bake challah or, rather, to bake challot, because, in the Dutch Ashkenazi tradition, you always bake two loaves for Shabbat and offer them both, holding them up together, when you bless the bread. Other communities do this too, of course. I also saw this custom in Poland at Beit Krakow in the dreamy and mystical Kazimierz neighbourhood. [Read more…]