As I was searching the apartment last night for a pen – those things are almost as elusive as M’s single missing Shabbos sock that just evaporated, I found an old Shabbos list that really made me stop in my tracks. It wasn't a a grocery list or a sample menu or anything like that. It was a list of items to pack, directions and “to-do’s” before I left. You see, I spent every Shabbos for 4 years hopping from host family to host family. Everything I learned about keeping kosher came from helping these families prepare their meals Thursday nights. Everything I learned about keeping Shabbos, I learned from being a part of these families’ meals and tables. Whether it was the chaos of covering light switches, getting kids bathed and dressed or setting the table and putting the food to warm, it was this hands on practice and experience that helped to make me the itsy bitsy balebusta that I am today.
I will forever be grateful to the families who opened their doors to me. Although now when I set my table, setting one extra plate is no trouble at all, the impact that extra plate had on my life a year ago, is indescribable. Sure, it wasn't always easy packing up a bag, getting on a bus and navigating my way through new neighborhoods to meet families who I had at most only heard of, but who I was assured would be happy to have me. There were a lot of ups and downs, it took it’s toll, but the experience made me a stronger, more understanding and appreciative person. I still have to pinch myself every week, as I prepare Shabbos in my home, no gym bag or bus ride necessary.
This week I’m going back to a quiet menu for two – a Shabbos at home with my husband. Packing and schlepping replaced with setting timers, washing the last few dishes and making sure everything is ready. The power of having all those tefillahs heard for four years, reflected in my candles next to our table. To those of you packing up and calling around to finalize your plans tonight, I can’t wait until you have your own table and if you ever need to vent or need some extra courage to get on that bus, feel free to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). And to those of you who have the incredible privilege of celebrating Shabbos in your own homes, if you can, set an extra plate tonight.
Shabbos Menu #3
Homemade Challah (Gatherings)
Sweet & Sour Salmon
Sweet & Sour Chicken
Zucchini Bread (More Please, page 261)
This was absolutely fantastic! We really, enjoyed it. I made two loaves, one with chocolate chips and one without. Of course I loved the one with chocolate more, but even without it was fantastic (seriously!). It was a great side to tone down and compliment the flavors of the chicken as well as the previous course!
Steamed Green Beans
Chocolate Fudge Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze