|Two Challahs, Hydrangeas, Shabbat Candles|
Last Friday night we had nine young Jewish women over for a Shabbat dinner. It was my first ever Shabbat dinner.
|Julia G., Me, Sarah F., Sarah W., Marjie and Stephenie|
Last year, at Marjie's Champagne Brunch I talked to the other Jewish women about trying to find some ways to engage in Judaism more and connect with other Jewish women. I found a group of women interested in getting together for Jewish and non-Jewish events and our "Just Jewish" group has finally taken off. We were all able to make it to the Shabbat dinner this last Friday, and it was our first Jewish event.
I can't think of a better way to really gel as a group than breaking bread together, eating amazing food, drinking wine, and talking about Jewish life.
The evening was deeply meaningful to me, and we talked about ways to keep our connections to Judaism going, ways to do things together as a group, and enjoyed being together. It's difficult in tis town to find other young Jewish folks to connect with, and our little group would like to hold tight to Judaism and its importance in our lives.
|A Gluten-Free Challah|
Most of all, I'd like for the presence of Judaism and my closeness to G-d to continue to grow.
This feels more possible now that I am able to engage in more activities. I am looking forward to trying to go to services soon.
|Ready for Shabbat! Even Got Out the Silver!|
Mom and I provided the location for the dinner and I was able to set the table for the event! I was pretty excited about this! I mean, it's been so long, I had to do a little searching in that brain of mine to remember what goes where on the table! Ha! I loved using our silver from my Jewish grandmother. We used her Corelle dishes too.
|A Pro In The Kitchen|
The success of this event is owed to one phenomenal young woman--Sarah. On Wednesday afternoon, Sarah came over to my house and we looked through all of her Jewish cookbooks to find some yummy recipes.
She sent out all of the Evites, did all of the shopping, cooked all day, and then brought food to cook over here while she let me rest! This event happened because of Sarah!
What a spread we had! Everything was DELICIOUS!
|Spinach Salad With Goat Cheese, Walnuts, Dates, Apples, Cherry Tomatoes and Vinagrette|
|Asparagus With Pickled Onions|
|Roasted Broccoli With Red Peppers|
|Tuna Steaks in Awesome-Sauce Garnished With Cilantro|
|Mixed Berries With Chocolate Covered Almonds|
|LOTS Of Wine Provided By Our Guests|
It was quite the spread indeed. Sarah even made a gluten-free Challah for me to have. It was honestly THE best gluten-free bread I have ever had. I felt like I was eating bread for the first time in 17 years!
We blessed the candles, the bread, the wine, and the children.
I love ritual.
|Some Q's For Discussion|
To turn our focus to Shabbat, Jewish life, how to grow as a group and help get to know one another, I created a few questions to discuss over dinner.
We kept it informal, but we did go around the whole table and heard from each of the nine women present.
|Julia R., Nicole, Julia G., Me|
We agreed that it is important for us to keep our connections to other young Jewish women strong; to engage in both Jewish and non-Jewish activities together; to consider future potluck style Shabbat meals; to try going to synagogue together once a month; to be mindful of the many Jewish holidays--major and minor--and finding ways to celebrate them.
|Sarah F., Sarah W., Marjie, Stephanie|
The girls are already planning a Sip and Paint party, wine dates, movie dates, and more. I know I'm going to have to say 'No' more than I wish I had to, but the opportunities to continue to connect are there and growing.
|Melissa and Brandon|
I knew some of the women before Friday, but some I had not met. Melissa brought her little guy, Brandon, who didn't seem to mind being surrounded by all the ladies.
|Someone Found A Lap!|
|Nicole and Tovah Rose|
And Tovah really enjoyed hanging out with Nicole!
|Julia R., Nicole, Julia G.|
I thank the women--Julia, Marjie, Melissa and Steph--who first encouraged me at that Champagne brunch a little over a year ago to start searching for a deeper Jewish life.
I thank everyone for coming together at our home to celebrate Shabbat.
|After A Successful Shabbat!|
I thank, most of all, Sarah, for her commitment to making this event happen, for providing us with the prayers, and for cooking such amazing food. Her generosity of spirit overflowed into the entire evening and her food cooked with love filled all of our souls.
|Marjie Captures My JOY|
Last year at that champagne brunch, I also listed TEN places I wanted to keep my focus, TEN ways I wanted to focus my life. I've come back to that list over and over. Sometimes I'm right on track, sometimes I'm way off track. Some days I've made choices I feel honor where I want to be. Some days I say "Yes" instead of "No" and sacrifice where my focus needs to be.
And as my life changes almost daily now, I'm asked to recalibrate, to re-examine, to reevaluate where my energy needs to be and what matters most. I'll keep coming back to my list over and over, because it's still spot on.