Saturday, January 9, 2010

Shomer Shabbos Dos and Don’ts: A Quick Guide for Reform Jews

Late yesterday afternoon, I posted this update on Facebook:
Gift-wrapped kosher wine: check; long skirt and boots: check; phone turned off: check; no talking between hand washing and motzi: check. I'm off on an adventure...Shabbat shalom!
Based on my own experience (and that of several colleagues with whom I consulted beforehand), here are the top 10 dos and don’ts to keep in mind when visiting an Orthodox home as a Shabbat dinner guest:

10. Do wear a long skirt, long sleeves and other modest clothing.

9. Don’t bring flowers to your hosts. They won’t be able to trim the stems to fit them in a vase. Stick with kosher wine.

8. Do turn off your phone.

7. Don’t ring the doorbell when you arrive; knock instead.

6. Don’t offer to shake hands when you’re introduced to the man of the house or male guests.

5. Do follow the lead of others when it comes to ritual hand washing. Once you’ve washed your hands, don’t converse until after the motzi has been recited and you’ve tasted the wonderful pull-apart challah dipped in salt.

4. Don’t turn the light off in the bathroom. It will then have to stay that way.

3. When you leave with other people, don’t even think about hitting the elevator button. Instead, follow them to the stairwell and carefully walk down nine flights to the lobby.

2. Don’t get in a cab or on a bus until after you’ve wished them Shabbat shalom and parted paths.

1. Most important of all: Do try to relax and enjoy the gracious hospitality, delicious food and wonderful company of the evening. I did!

Shabbat shalom!