Shabbat Potluck with Spruce Street Minyan (22 October 2021)

It has been nice gathering with my Jewish groups again. A few weeks ago, I noticed Mallory sent around an e-mail to the Grad and Young Professionals’ Network about a potluck Shabbat hosted by the Spruce Street Minyan. I thought it would be fun, a chance to meet new people, and I signed up.

I sort of have a crush on Daniel. He’s a Celiac Jew and we met on Zoom earlier this year, formed a connection on being gluten-free and it was wonderful meeting him face to face a few weeks ago. I asked him if he was going, and he had to think about it. He said, “potlucks are difficult for people like us.” I told him I was going to bring gluten-free and he added, “Spruce Street Minyan is more devout than I am. We’ll see.”

Unfortunately, on Friday, he had a report to finish up for his PhD. He’s getting a doctorate in robotics and had a report due at 10pm. Awww, well, maybe next time or maybe I may invite him to do something at a later date.

Daniel wasn’t kidding, however, about Spruce Street Minyan. I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting a service before Shabbat. Mallory’s group doesn’t do that before dinner, so I wasn’t dressed for service. I like to dress up in business casual for Shabbat service, but I was in my Halloween t-shirt and ripped jeans. Mallory loved the shirt, but I felt a bit embarrassed for my casualness. I also didn’t bring my Siddur. The group had Siddurs we could borrow, and while I could follow along, this group was different than my Synagogue. We sang, worshipped, and prayed in Hebrew. Nothing was announced, Cantors just led the song and prayers. At that point, I gave up on the Siddur, and followed along with Mallory, Sasha, and my other friends. I’m used to a hybrid of Hebrew and English, and a Rabbi that announces page numbers and prayers.

However, it was all good. I was fine and it was a gorgeous service. It felt great singing and praying in Hebrew. Over 60 people attended (we all had to show proof of vaccination) and it was just awesome that all 60 of us were singing in unison. This was a total Happiness Box moment. The leader of Spruce Street Minyan made an announcement that this group is led by volunteers and they were in need of volunteers to read dvars. They would help if anyone needed help.

After the announcement, I walked up to her and said, “I’d be interested in reading a dvar. However, I’m in the process of converting and I would need help.”

She smiled and said, “Mazel tov! Welcome! We wouldn’t mind helping you at all. After Shabbat, e-mail us and we can start.”

I smiled too. I have to take classes to convert and I will, but I also know that I need to do Jewish things as well. I can read and study to morning comes, but it’s better to learn by doing. Hebrew is similar to Arabic, so I have that on my side too.

Daniel wasn’t kidding about another thing either. It is difficult to be Celiac at a potluck, especially when 60 people came and not everyone brought food. I expected to have a few slices of my pizza. Only had one slice, and it went. A lot of food that people promised to bring didn’t show up. I came home so hungry. Someone brought GF pasta and there were a few salads, but I still came home hungry.

I sat next to Rafael and we struck up a conversation, then we shared a Truly. “L’chaim!” I asked him if we could get a selfie l’chaiming for the Happiness Box scrapbook. Rafael was excited about being in the Happiness Box, that he gladly agree to l’chaim again. His friend joined the photo. We were l’chaiming. 😂😂😂😂

What a great evening. Mazel tov!

Next time I will be leading a dvar and I may bring two boxes of gluten-free pizza. Maybe I’ll bring something else gluten-free kosher as well. Overall, it was a great experience. I can’t wait to go 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 Potluck with Spruce Street Minyan (22 October 2021)”

  1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

    Thanks for taking me along to the potluck Shabbat, dear friend! I admire you for signing up for all these events where you know you will meet bunches of new people. I’d probably experience stranger anxiety going to all of those functions, but not you. You have a knack of turning strangers into friends. It’s nice that you found a friend in Daniel with whom you share a GF lifestyle, and a shame he couldn’t attend this latest event with you. I’m sure you and he will make other arrangements. Based on your account, Spruce Street Minyan is indeed more devout than what you and Daniel are used to. It’s good to know they did the p.o.v. thing to safeguard those in attendance. I also admire you for coming forward and volunteering to read a dvar, knowing that you will need some help to prepare. I’m sorry people gobbled up most of your GF pizza and that you went home hungry. I’m happy to see that Rafael and his friend eagerly posed with you for H.B. pics.

    You are plowing through 2021 unstoppable, dear friend JM. It does my heart good to see you out and about, learning and growing and making many new friends. Enjoy your week!


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