Shabbat Dinners

Shabbat Dinners

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.


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