I get invited to Shabbat dinners and lunches quite a lot. I have lots of new friends who are not just kosher but also Sabbath-observant! My house is not kosher, so sometimes I feel guilty accepting these invitations because I cannot reciprocate. I live in a big city that has lots of kosher restaurants. Should I invite these hosts out for dinner and pay?
Feeling like a mooch
Dear “NOT A MOOCH!!!”,
First of all, let me assure you that anyone who invites you for a Shabbat meal is NOT looking for reciprocation. They are looking for your company. They are looking to share the bounty with you. They are hoping to share in their joy of celebrating that weekly practice of humans BEING, not humans DOING. So enough with the Jewish guilt! It’s so misplaced in this scenario.
Second of all, how fortunate you are to live in a place with lots of kosher food available! You should know that half of your pantry is also probably kosher-certified. So many foods already are, and you might not know it. Look for the variety of symbols on the labels (Google kosher symbols), and you will see what I mean.
But entertaining a kosher guest is not so different than entertaining a vegan, a vegetarian, or a person with food allergies. It just means being mindful and ensuring that they have something delicious and nutritious as well! The only difference, in your case, is that you will need to bring that food in! Or of course, you can take your friends out, but let’s discuss your options for staying in first.
Forget hosting on Shabbat: there are too many complications that are inherent in the process. There are six other nights of the week – or afternoons for that matter.
If you order from a kosher restaurant or grocer, ask them to keep the food sealed in its packages so that your guests might feel comfortable seeing and knowing that the food is from a source they feel comfortable with. Buy some lovely paper or disposable plates/cutlery and set your table. Perhaps instead of hot food (which is not impossible to serve but will require a bit more effort and time to prepare your oven), order things that can be eaten as they are delivered. Wraps, sandwiches, salads, and the like are always great. Just don’t serve meat and dairy at the same time on the same table.
Put on some beautiful music, arrange some lovely flowers, and open your home to your friends with your heart wide open!
In most cases these days, there will be individuals coming into your home who are vegan and vegetarian, gluten-free or sugar-free, keto, or follow any number of other diets.
The extra effort you make will be met with the endless appreciation of your friends and you will have the utter pleasure of being a “Baalat Hachnasat Orchim” (a master of hospitality). Hospitality is one of the cornerstones of a Jewish home. Good luck with your next level of it!
I am waiting for my invitation!