Monday, June 4, 2012

Moishe House SFV Shabbat

We have been a Moishe House for nine months now. In that nine months we have created a fun, energetic, and vibrant Jewish community in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. Hundreds of our community members have participated in MHSFV events like Pub Quiz, Dodger Games, building a garden, and beer making. However, the event that we believe is the reason for the wonderful growth of our community and their commitment to making Moishe House SFV a comfortable place is our Friday night Shabbat dinners. One person cannot create the Shabbat experience. Every participant helps us turn an empty living room into a loud, silly, inviting space. Shabbat is our identity. I want to share how Shabbat becomes reality in Moishe House SFV. Friday afternoon: 12:45pm At my office, I should really leave soon, we have so much to do and I don't want to be here anymore. 1:00pm I blow up my Jetsons-esque doll and prop it up at my desk, play the recording of fingers hitting a keyboard on loop while I slyly slip out of the office...(shhh, don’t tell the boss.) I drive home to meet the roommates who I presume have done the exact same thing. 2:00pm They have done the exact same thing. I put on the new Edward Sharp album I just bought on vinyl, and we start to clean, sing, and dodge incoming Nerf disks shot from each other’s own personal Nerf weapon. Somehow the cleaning gets done, with a few added Nerf disk decorations around. 3:00pm We all pile in the car and drive to Vallarta, our amazing local Mexican market. Before we can even think about the next five hours of preparations we devour a trayful of tacos and glutton-sized horchata from Vallarta’s in-store restaurant. Stomachs full and thirsts quenched we start shopping. Fresh tortillas, rice, beans, carne asada, chicken, and lots of chiles. Vallarta’s butcher counter is the foundation of a good Shabbat meal. Stuff 30 grocery bags into the car and drive home. 4:30pm Arrive home to a few early birds who have come to help cook and prepare for the Shabbat. We’d serve dinner at midnight if it weren’t for our dedicated community members who leave their jobs early to help prepare dinner for people they may or may not know. I trip over the massive amounts of grocery bags and stare overwhelmed at $250 worth of ingredients and wonder how it will turn into dinner for 30 people in just a few hours. Oy Vey! The Barenaked Ladies album, Rock Spectacle has become our pre-shabbat anthem. So with the Amp turned up to 11, everyone starts to sing and get into the cooking mood. We set up tables, make place settings, cover challot, find kiddush cups and candles, pause for a beer, fire up the grill and fix the broken sink in the bathroom. 7:00pm People start to arrive, first 10, then 15.... 7:30pm More People, 20, 25... “Jason, I thought you said only 20 people RSVP’d on the Facebook event!” 7:40pm 30, 35... 8:00pm 40 people are now sitting around our table, some on chairs, some on couches, some on coffee tables, and some on each other. Those 30 bags of groceries have somehow been chopped, mixed, grilled, and baked into a delicious meal. Miles Davis has taken the place of The Barenaked Ladies as we introduce ourselves and welcome the new community members. We ask for volunteers to lead us in the Shabbat prayers. We have a ha’motzi tradition in our house where you touch the challah, or touch someone who is touching the challah, or you touch someone, who is touching someone, who is touching the challah. This way we make a big chain around the table all connected to the challah and say ha’motzi to welcome in the shabbat together. 8:30pm - 12:30am Eat, drink, and be merry/spontaneous dance party. 1:00am Jason, Noah, Terry and I sit around the table in our empty home examining the graveyard of challah crumbs and abandoned wine glasses. Its over, we did it. Shabbat is the time we welcome new people into our house, it is where we decompress from the week and it is the time we are able to share the things we love with our community. Good food, great wine, best friends, funny stories, and age old traditions. These are the reasons we started a Moishe House in the first place and Shabbat brings them all together at the same table. David Starkopf

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