A Non-Jewish Person's Guide to Pop-Up Shabbat
A week ago, I attended Pop-Up Shabbat, a Friday night supper-club founded by my friend, Danya Cheskis-Gold. Themed "Collards & Kugel", this second-in-the-series event was a mash-up of Southern meets Jewish. The theme was perfect for me as I hail from the South; I knew nothing about Shabbat, but was ready to learn.
The event space, a private home in Bed-Stuy, was modestly decorated with butcher paper table coverings, candles, and vases of cotton stalks. The soundtrack for the evening was the gritty live music of The Bones of J.R Jones. I mingled and noshed before the main event, dinner.
Note: Many attendees will be Jewish, but (like you) some are not. All are welcome!
The Jewish day of rest, Shabbat is ushered in with blessings and candles on Friday evening and ends Saturday night. At Pop-Up Shabbat, candles illuminated the space and we were free to (or not to) recite blessings for wine, bread, and light from the prayer cards placed among the tables.
Note: Hebrew toasts conclude with "L'Chaim!" which means "to life".
Wine was followed by cornbread-inspired challah bread.
Note: Challah is super meaningful for Jews. Tradition calls for two loaves, each of six stands. Together, they equal twelve to represent the twelve tribes of Israel. It is usually made without milk or meat to meet kosher standards. Pop-Up Shabbat, being more inspirational than traditional, included cheddar cheese jalepeño challah which we then smothered in butter!
Served family-style, the meal was a satisfying blend of "Southern comfort meets Jewish deli" created by Scharf & Zoyer. Shannon Sarna provided the challah and sublime desserts (including a gluten-free sweet potato pie of which I may or may not have had two pieces). Okay, two and-a-half. Unsurprisingly, I met other Upper West Siders (a traditionally Jewish neighborhood) and ended the night with a flurry of business card and phone number exchanges.
Pop-Up Shabbat was a fantastic way to spend a Friday night and I can appreciate the ritual of a weekly gathering with friends and family to transition into the weekend. If you're in New York, I highly recommend going to one of the quarterly dinners. Sign up for the Pop-Up Shabbat newsletter to be notified of events.
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