When Gerry and I joined Temple Sinai almost a decade ago, what helped us establish an almost instant community were the “Wandering Chavurot” organized by member Jannie Dresser. Members met for Shabbat on Friday evenings and the occasional Saturday evening to break bread in one another’s homes. They were wonderful!
Teri Bleckner and I (Joanne Rocklin) decided that we would like to reestablish those dinners, with Rabbi Mates-Muchin’s blessing. The idea fit so nicely with Rabbi’s desire to inspire congregational “conversations” during the next year.
Dinners will take place in homes and apartments of all sizes, mostly in Oakland, although groups in the past have also met in surrounding areas such as Albany, Castro Valley, El Sobrante and Orinda, etc.
Here is what we visualize, based on Jannie’s successful past planning:
• Hosts are only required to provide the space, set the table, heartily greet the lovely guests, provide a bit of cheese and some crackers for early arrivals, perhaps provide coffee/tea, and clean-up. They also decide in advance the number of guests they can accommodate.
• Guests provide one dish or beverage, etc. of their choosing, or mine, or at the host’s suggestion. We will always try to be aware of and accommodate guests’ food allergies and restrictions when planning the menu.
• I will organize the dinners every few months, perhaps three or four times a year. Once I find out who wants to host during that period of time, I will send out an email to announce the date, general location, description, and maximum number for each planned dinner. Guest sign-ups are on a first-response/first reserved place at that particular table.
• Guests can sign up for more than one dinner.
• This is not a true, i.e. ongoing, “havurah”, as each dinner meeting will vary in terms of where it is held and who is attending. Guests will only find out their dinner companions after the sign-ups are complete and they have received the address, driving directions and food assignment for the event.
• These will be informal, friendly, relaxed get-togethers. They are a way to get to know one another better, and are not for newcomers only (although newcomers will be most welcome!) Heavy debate is not necessarily the goal, although meeting, greeting and perhaps heavy noshing is! Some evenings are more social than religiously formal, but the blessings over candles, wine and challah are always made. Each host can decide and guide the mood of the evening, eg. Shabbat/Friday or Havdalah/Saturday, whether it includes kids or not (or no preference), music, movie, kvetching, etc.
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN HOSTING?
Please answer the following via email at [email protected]
• We are currently looking for hosts during March through August. We will always try to prevent conflicts with special Temple activities. Please choose some dates you would be able to host. (I will get back to you to discuss which one is most feasible.)
• We are also looking for hosts for the first night of Passover, which is Friday, March 30.
• Let me know if there are future dates your home is available, if you can’t host during this period.
• Are there pets in your home? What kind?
• How many guests do you wish to invite?
• Do you have any restrictions re smoking, perfume, children, etc.?
• Is your home wheel-chair accessible?
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN ATTENDING?
Check out the list of current dinners planned and drop me a note!
I will contact hosts and attendees again with more information as the organizing proceeds, i.e. contact/planning with hosts; assignment of dinner locations; then a final reminder of what to bring about a week before the dinner.