Nearly everyone in the Jewish community, no matter how secular or how orthodox enjoys a good Friday night dinner. At the Museum we have noticed that whenever we put on an event involving food it is always very popular. So when it was suggested that we take part in the national “Museums at Night” project, we decided to throw our doors open on an evening in May and offer all-comers a good Jewish Friday night dinner – but on a Sunday!
First we had a meeting with a local caterer and decided which of the many traditional dishes on offer to have on our menu. Then we had a bit of a panic trying to work out how we would actually keep things hot on the night. The Curator’s grandma came to the rescue with a hostess wagon which she no longer needed. And she said we can keep it for future events.
Then it was decided that the only two Jewish members of staff should be “Shabbos Mummy” and “Shabbos Daddy”. That meant me and the Learning Officer! We made sure to be well informed about the dishes on offer and the customs and traditions associated with Shabbos.
So on Friday night 18th May I ate a hearty shabbos dinner with my family, gained 31bs and then on Sunday night 20th May I had to get ready to eat another hearty shabbos dinner with visitors to the Museum.
The guests arrived, introduced themselves and sat down to an attractively laid table. The Learning officer gave a background speech about the Sabbath and its customs, while we were distracted by delicious smells wafting through from the tiny kitchen. I demonstrated lighting the Shabbos candles and saying the blessing. The Learning Officer demonstrated blessing the wine before drinking it. All the guests were fascinated. But I think they were a little bit alarmed when the Learning Officer cut his finger while slicing the bread after blessing it. That is not a custom, we explained!
Over a delicious five course meal, the guests chatted and got to know each other. They asked questions and were even brave enough to join in some singing.
All the feedback we got was very positive and we want to do it again!!