Shabbat Shalom! | Hillel Network of Philadelphia’s Shabbot Dinner | 23 August 2019

The other day, I received an e-mail from Jewish Philly about their Shabbat at the end of October (I have to tell mom so I can work it into the budget – $18), and I am super excited for that evening. However, I wanted to attend a Shabbat dinner earlier than at the end of October and I Googled different events.

There’s a Meetup type website for faith based activities and I did see a free Shabbat dinner, where I had to bring my own dish, in Rittenhouse Square. I was tempted, but since I was looking at work and it was only a few hours away, I didn’t have a dish I could bring. The Hillel Network for Grad students and Young Professionals was having a dinner, $10 at the William Way LGBT Center and I decided to go. I bought the ticket and was ready for 7pm.

I arrived at 6:30 and saw two Jewish guys standing outside of the red door at the William Way LGBT Center and knew I wasn’t too early. Matt and Tsil; Matt loved my Ravens shirt since he was from Baltimore and we chatted for a bit. I apologized that I wasn’t dressed for the occasion, I found the event on Google and decided last minute. They were glad that random people could find events.

Anyway, as the evening went on, I chatted with Matt and he is going to be moving to Israel to go to Rabbinical school. I asked him what the process was of becoming a Rabbi because that always interested me. Melody, the group’s president, and I were chatting and I mentioned that I was brought up Catholic.

“Oh, are you converting?”

“Just learning. I did my 23 & Me test because dad was adopted and mom’s mother was adopted, so I wanted to see what exactly I am. Ashkenazi Jewish showed up in my lineage.”

“What percentage?”


“That’s a good amount!”

” That’s why I’m interested in learning more. Catholicism never stuck with me, I left at 11 because it didn’t feel right and I’ve been exploring ever since. Dad and I used to joke that Judaism felt natural to us and now it might make sense.” (Mom’s DNA didn’t show Ashkenazi Jewish, so it had to come from dad… dad doesn’t want to get his DNA done, since being in law enforcement, he’s a bit paranoid.)

I was welcomed into the fold, met Jon and Rachel and washed up with another young lady. I also met Anna. I sat with Rachel and she invited me to join her improv group. I gave her my e-mail address and I’m waiting to hear from her about the first meet up. šŸ™‚

At 7:30, Shabbat began. We lit the candles, I followed the lead of the Yiddish songs that were sung, blessed the Challah, and passed it around. I had to say, “No thank you, I have Celiac Disease.” However, the chicken, rice, and the rest of the food that was served was GF.

I had a great evening and met a lot of new people. I can’t wait to go to other events and I feel blessed. I am grateful that I was included, welcomed, and was invited back.

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Creator of the Happiness Box Project Initiative, a project where you write your happiness or gratitude each day, then open the box in the New Year. The Initiative is to teach joy and gratitude, to pass it on to others.

One thought on “Shabbat Shalom! | Hillel Network of Philadelphia’s Shabbot Dinner | 23 August 2019”

  1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

    I hope you are feeling a lot better at this hour, dear friend! I’m delighted to read how you shopped around for a free or low cost Shabbat dinner to attend and found the one at the William Way LGBT Center. You made important new contacts with Matt, Melody, Jon, Rachel and Anna, and your conversations with them elicited helpful info and advice. My spirits are buoyed seeing these pictures of good people coming together to worship, dine and network. You are welcomed wherever you go because you have an open mind and a kind heart. I admire those qualities, and people who really matter value them, too.

    Feel better and enjoy the rest of your weekend, dear friend JM!


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