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24. Chapter 8i: Jewish Geography: Shabbos: How do I get invited?

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          How do I get invited?

          If you're puzzling over how to secure an invitation for Shabbos, deterred by the notion that a family would have to be crazy to welcome a perfect stranger into their midst for an entire day - stop worrying!

          What you are heretofore unfamiliar with, is a very beautiful mitzvah in Judaism known as "hachnosas orchim", loosely translated as hospitality but meaning so much more.  Hoping to fulfill this mitzvah, many Jews not only welcome the opportunity to have guests but actively search them out.  In fact, Shabbos guests are often in much greater demand than Shabbos hosts.

          The only thing a potential guest needs to do is to make himself available.

          Contact a Jewish outreach organization. Tell them that you would like to experience Shabbos. This type of organization should be your first option because they do this regularly.

          They will probably want to meet you in person and do an intake interview. Be cooperative: they really want to help you.

          After asking where you live they will either get in contact with an appropriate Sabbath-observing family they know in your vicinity, or put you in touch with your local synagogue rabbi. In the latter case, the rabbi will most probably want to meet you first before making Sabbath arrangements.

          The arrangements will initially be for a Sabbath meal and, if things go well at that meal, many more invitations are bound to follow.

          If, for whatever reason, these organizations cannot place you, feel free to call an orthodox synagogue or a yeshiva directly and let them know of your interest.  Most likely, they will go out of their way to help you. They can set you up with member families or even the rabbi.

          Once you have the name of a family and are calling or being called to arrange your Shabbos, keep in mind a few things:

          Don't leave anything vague or unspecified. Generally speaking, a Shabbos invitation can be: 1) for a meal only (Friday night dinner or Saturday lunch), or 2) first meeting at the synagogue for the Friday evening service followed by dinner; or 3) spending the entire Shabbos with the host family i.e. the full 25 hours, starting with candle lighting (before the onset of Shabbos) until the ‘havdalah’ service, a little after nightfall on Saturday evening (which concludes Shabbos). Make certain you know what is included in the invitation.

          Finally, be sure to mention any sort of special needs you may have before you come.  It can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for a host to serve a beautiful roast that required hours of preparation, when the guest announces that he is a vegetarian.  Of course, one should not read off a list of demands to the prospective host, but it's better to tactfully let them know about any special needs you have, before you arrive.

          As you'll most assuredly find out, securing a Shabbos invitation requires little more than a few simple phone calls and at most, a couple of brief meetings.

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COM_EASYBLOG_GUEST Sunday, 17 December 2017
Last updated on: 12/17/2017
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