In Gary Rosenblatt’s column, “What’s Next After Birthright Next?” (May 22), he cites various programs to engage alumni of Birthright trips into Jewish life. OneTable’s Aliza Kline wants everyone to feel included at Shabbat dinners by making rituals very optional or watered down. She claims she doesn’t want anyone to feel awkward.
If the purpose of a Friday evening Shabbat dinner is just to have a meal together with friends, that can be done at any time and friends can even go out to a restaurant. But if the purpose of a Friday night Shabbat dinner is to engage Jewishly, then to deemphasize ritual is totally counter to our Jewish tradition and to the Shabbat experience.
I have hosted unaffiliated as well as Jews from the Conservative and Reform movement for Shabbat dinners. I tell them in advance that we perform the required Orthodox rituals associated with the meal. I have never had a situation where someone refused to wear a kippah or participate accordingly. It is a huge mistake not to have some sort of ritual obligation for a wonderful Shabbat experience.