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Hosting the Ultimate Shabbos Table

Margie Pensak

“A wonderful gift I have in My treasury house and Shabbos is its name.” Inviting guests to our Shabbos table gives us the opportunity to share that gift. The logistics, though, can sometimes seem daunting. Family First unravels the who, where, and how of enjoying Shabbos company

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Perfect Invitation List

Putting together a guest list starts as early as the beginning of each week, even before planning a menu, (which is often custom-tailored to reflect special dietary requirements, as well as particular likes and dislikes of repeat guests).

Guests often fall into three categories:


*People who need a place: singles (never-before-married, divorced, and widowed), students who are not in-towners, and the physically/mentally challenged. Basically, those who may not receive a Shabbos invite and are therefore spared from eating alone.

*People who would enjoy a meal out: mothers (and families) of newborns, large families who may seldom get invitations, those either just back from or about to go on vacation, CPAs during tax season, those who just moved, those who are about to make or recovering from making a simchah, etc.

*Fun Friends: longtime and newly made friends, coworkers, and neighbors (both frum and non-frum).


In mixing and matching these groups of people, maintaining the right blend of company is the tricky part. Knowing something about your guests in advance can be a big help in forming a successful Shabbos table. Here are some do’s and don’ts for making the right Shabbos table “shidduch.”

Do try to invite guests who are compatible. Although commonalities of age or background may give guests things to talk about, they are never a guarantee of compatibility personality-wise. Those who share intellectual or creative pursuits, the same hometown, or eclectic interests, may have more in common.

Do keep in mind that a guest may prefer to come alone. There are those who would benefit from being the center of your attention.

Don’t invite guests who may clash over religion (strong hashkafic differences) or politics. Probably the worst scene at my Shabbos table occurred just prior to President Obama’s election, when a very liberal outspoken pro-Obama guest butted heads with another outspoken guest who was very anti-Obama.

Do try to invite non-frum relatives, friends, neighbors, and coworkers.

Don’t invite close-minded, judgmental guests who may inadvertently make insensitive remarks at the same time as these potential newcomers to Yiddishkeit.


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