Friday morning, I was telling a student about the song, Shalom Aleichem, that many people sing at the beginning of Shabbat dinner. One explanation is that singing this song at the beginning of Shabbat welcomes the angels into our home and creates a peaceful setting for the rest of the day. I’m not much for angel imagery, but I do like setting the scene for Shabbat with those words. In a fit of rushing to get ready for Shabbat while it was pouring rain outside, we ended up driving to the Grad Network potluck dinner at Emily’s place, so I sang Shalom Aleichem to Aliza in the car. Perhaps not traditional, but fitting nonetheless.
I was incredibly happy to see so many new people at this potluck; the beginning of the school year really is a special time. I also think we learned a lot about just how much food we need to feed people at a potluck, especially when wine seemed to be the main item people wanted to contribute. Josh has often said that Philly is especially good at potlucks, so all you new folks: it’s ok, you just got here! But seriously, I hope that as we continue to do this kind of dinner, people will get more interested in contributing food, and especially in contributing food that they make themselves. In case you’re just tuning in, I kind of have a thing about that.
The combination of the car, the baby, and a room full of grad students making merry conversation with each other meant that we ducked out early and went straight to bed. Somehow, even with a reasonable night of baby-tending, we woke up for Minyan Tikvah in a bad state. Services were lovely, the weather held out, Aliza looked adorable in Sheila’s dress, and the home-hospitality-lunches-following-services experiment went smoothly. But oh, the exhaustion.
We had lunch at Bertram’s, and he made a middle eastern feast for us. I don’t have it to include right now, but I really want his recipe for eggplant and tomatoes. It was incredible, maybe the best eggplant I’ve ever eaten. He also had a thoughtful and impressive variety of beer, including creme brulee stout that, for some reason, had a Jewish star on the label.
We even had a nice walk back through the city. But all that tired just bubbled up and erupted when we got home, and it was not pretty. And though I feel guilty admitting it, I said to Marc, “I wish someone would just take her away for a few hours so we could both sleep.” Instead, through some series of delirium-induced events, I ended up lying on the hardwood living room floor next to Aliza (she, at least, was on a blanket), trying to will her to sleep so that I could nap.
Instead, there was a knock on the door. And though I generally avoid this type of comparison, and I’m not much for angels (see above), and though it, perhaps sounds overblown or insincere, and though I could not possibly have any more commas or justification in this sentence, with all my heart, I am honestly reporting that at that moment my Shabbat angels arrived.
Beverly, Naomi, and Sara were taking a walk after their Tikvah lunch at Sara’s, and they just wanted to stop by to say hello. Within about 2 minutes of that knock on the door, they had Aliza packed up in her stroller and out the door, and I was asleep in bed. I don’t think I’ve ever needed a nap so badly in my life, and they arrived and made that happen. It was magical. It was otherworldly. I’m really glad I had sung Shalom Aleichem the night before and primed my Shabbat for angels.