Summertime and Shabbat is Easy…

Cindy has been following the blog since she found it on Pinterest (!) back in April, and I’m so excited to share her story. And as much fun as it is to share my friends’ Shabbat experiences through the blog (and, friends, please keep signing up), I’m really so amazed and proud that this project is also bringing together strangers (though, as Cindy said, only temporary ones). Also, Cindy’s title has a striking similarity to Yael’s post from a few weeks back, which just goes to show, Philly to Dallas, we’ve got lots in common!  

Shabbat Shalom from Dallas, y’all! You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Hebrew spoken in a Texas accent. It is just the best.  As was this past Shabbat…Friday the 13th. Best. Shabbat. Ever.

A little background about me.  I’m Cindy. Moved to Dallas 2 years ago and fell in love with it.  Getting married to Joe, who is Israeli, in November. We’ve been together 6 ½ years–engaged for…..a long time. I’ve been Jewish for just over a month.

Our guests this week were Danny and Heather, a couple we met at our amazing Conservative synagogue Congregation Shearith Israel.  They’re married and have been together over 10 years.  She also converted and we have a similar story.  We met them about a year ago at the shul, were by them for Pesach first night, and have wanted to connect with them as couple friends for quite a while.  They are only the second Jewish couple to come over to our place for Shabbat dinner.  We have a lot of non-Jewish friends, and we just usually subject them to all of it, or have them over after we sing Kiddush.

I was off work all Friday.  I had a really tough week during a stressful time at work and needed a true Shabbat. I worked all Friday on making Shabbat, but never once got tired. Danced and listened to music as I worked all day.  I felt energized and joyous. I felt like I had plugged into the universal energy of Hashem, and it was an incredibly spiritual experience.

I love Shabbat in the summer because it comes in so late. I was quite blessed this week because I finished my preparations with enough time to sit out on the porch with Joe and a glass of wine and totally relax before our guests arrived and Shabbat came in.  This week, because I was off work, it was my gift to Joe.  We give Shabbat to each other, depending on our work schedules.  If I’m working, he gives to me, and vice-versa.  He sings me the Ayshet Chayil each week anyway, in stunning Hebrew because he is totally awesome.  When I feel like I really earned it, it’s even better.

Our guests arrive.  We tour the house, we sit, we chat, we drink, we nosh, I announce that I am blogging this event.  We discover that we have so much more in common than we even realized…amazing-ness ensues.  Figuring out how to be the head of household on Shabbat and “do what you do.”  Realizing your father always told people, “We sit after the wine,” because it makes them feel more comfortable when they know what to do at his house. Having incredible conversations about conversion, the shul that brought you all together, matzo ball soup, and family.  That realization that your future children are going to grow up with their future children, and you are creating all your children’s memories before they’re even born….the essence of being Jewish, the essence of l’dor-va’dor [from generation to generation]. The essence of Shabbat.  Given in love, accepted with gratitude.  He gave it to us, we give it to each other…….

Now on to the food!  I took advantage of the cool Texas summer we’ve been blessed with to use the oven (it was only 93 that day, after all!).  Since we’re also vegetarians, I wanted to impress our meat-eating guests, so I made a creamy alfredo/marinara veggie lasagna.  Matzo ball soup, salad, and homemade challah rounded out the meal.  I make the challah dough in my bread machine, on the dough cycle.  Then I take it out, divide in three, braid it, let it rise 30 min, and bake it.  Find and use your own awesome recipe.  Mine is from The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger.  I photocopied the recipe and taped it to my flour container—best idea ever!

My recipe is dessert.  Pareve, all natural, and Kosher for Pesach if you use the proper vanilla.

Blitz 4 avocados in the food processor until they’re smooth.  Add 1 cup cocoa powder, 1 cup agave nectar, and a few splashes of vanilla. Blitz again. Result: glossy,velvety Avocado Chocolate Mousse “Pudding.”  They’ll never know it’s avocado until you tell them.

Thank you for letting me share my experiences.  I’m over word count by a few, but in my defense, it was the best. Shabbat. Ever. Shavua Tov, y’all.  –Cindy in Dallas

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