Guess Who’s Coming to Shabbas wraps up first year

by | Jun 13, 2014 | Other News

Congregation Beth El has many programs that are focused on building community within the congregation. One of the newest and most successful of these programs completed its first year with the fourth edition of “Guess Who’s Coming to Shabbas” on Friday, May 16. The goals of “Guess Who’s Coming to Shabbas” (GWCTS) program were to create opportunities for Beth El members to host and get to know other Beth El members and encourage members to celebrate Shabbat together.

According to the feedback, these goals were achieved with flying colors. As host Leah Flax says, “We had the best time hosting GWCTS! We always talk about how we want to do more Shabbat dinners as a family and with friends. I think we will do them more often in the future. We loved having everyone over for Ethiopian food. It was so wonderful having all the kids running around the house.”

Jalussee Miller and her family enjoyed being guests at Adam and Kristy Foleck’s house. Miller says “Sometimes trying to visit or get to know someone during Oneg or Kiddush can be an overwhelming and a challenge, but the GWCTS gathering was a lovely experience that afforded my family the opportunity to meet and spend time with other members in a more personal way. It really helped to heighten our sense of community. We got to know the people behind the faces we see on a weekly basis.”

Fortunately, nearly a quarter of Congregation Beth El has already had an opportunity to participate in this program. More than 100 families have been either hosts or guests, or both. Many of the guests from the earlier events have later hosted, such as Jordie and Michael Efland who say, “This program was such a fabulous idea! We had such a good time being guests and then hosting our own Shabbos dinner. We will definitely participate again in the fall.” In total, in this first year of the program, approximately 450 people have celebrated Shabbat together with members of their Beth El family.

The style of each meal was decided by the host and ranged from intimate to big groups, formal sit-down dining to casual take-out, and included all kinds of delicious food styles such as Mediterranean, tapas, pizza and chicken soup. All of the groups were given grape juice and challah (along with a “Guess Who’s Coming to Shabbas” bag) to use for saying Kiddush and motzi. While all the food was reported to be delicious, the best part was always said to be the company and the experience.

“We loved having the GWCTS dinner,” says host Alicia Friedman, “It was so nice to share Shabbat with a family who we all love but never get to see. The program is so great—it gives you the impetus to step out of your normal routine and create a rewarding experience for everyone involved.”