By Erin Davis, Shabbatness
Last month, my 90-year-old, 4'10" Nana Roza Goldberg baked over 1,000 hamentaschen from scratch in the same little kitchen in Jacksonville, Florida, in which she's baked numerous delicacies since immigrating to the U.S. after surviving the Holocaust. Since my recent 29th birthday, Nana has been particularly distressed that I am the only one of her grandchildren who has hit this age unmarried. This past Purim, she packed two additional "special ingredients" in her famous annual batch of hamentaschen: love, in hopes that it infects all who eat it; and extra sugar, because "no man likes a tiny tucchus like yours!". With these two magical ingredients, she made only one request - that they be served after a Shabbat dinner hosted in my home. "Shabbat," she says, in her thick Polish accent, "is magical - nothing brings together nice Jewish boys and girls like a good, home-cooked Shabbat dinner." Although I may not believe the majority of my grandma's superstitious advice nor indulge in her tucchus-plumping tactics, I couldn't agree more strongly on her belief in the power of the Shabbat experience.
I obeyed Nana Roza and served her delicious hamentaschen at my last "Shabbatness" - one of my intimate, private dinners for even-ratio groups of single Jewish professionals in their 20s-40s, personally selected based on common interests and compatibility. As a proud 2014 Presentense Fellow, my dream of launching my social venture based around Shabbat matchmaking programs and events has become a reality, and I host groups of 8-14 in my home a couple times per month. At this past dinner, be it the hamentaschen, my potent bourbon-based "Shabbatini" cocktail, or the abundance of plump tucchuses (tucchi?) in the room, my Nana would've kvelled at the sight of so many good, hardworking, accomplished young Jewish singles connecting over the Shabbat table. I called her a few days after to thank her for the cookies and share the news that three new couples formed that evening. I could practically see her wiping away her tears of joy with the sleeve of her T.J. Maxx cardigan, itching to call her best friend Pearl (whose grandson is single, did you know? But so much baggage!) with the news. I am also a bit teary-eyed to soon be celebrating the one-year anniversary of a couple composed of two of my very closest friends that I introduced at a Shabbat last June, who will be moving to Boston together this summer. I, myself, even recently met an awesome guy at Shabbat a few weeks ago (nothing serious, Nana!), with whom I bonded over a preference for Patron over Manischevitz while taste-testing various challahs (raisin just edging out over chocolate).
Shabbat really IS magical. In addition to connecting the present to the past, participating in the rituals of our ancestors and making it our own, it's also a time to gather with family and friends, old and new, after a long, busy week. Putting our phones away, checking out from the hustle and bustle of city life, and taking time to eat, talk, and relax - it's truly unlike any night of the week, and there is nothing that makes me feel more strongly connected to my Jewish identity. Shabbat Shalom!
If you're interested in learning more about Shabbatness or attending a future Shabbatness dinner, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NANA ROZA'S HAMENTASCHEN
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