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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Is there a dress code?

No dress code!  Please wear what makes you most comfortable.  However, the Shabbat meal is a festive occasion.  We do suggest that you wear something more formal to match the atmosphere.

 

When will the meal start?  How long do the meals usually last?

The Shabbat meals start depending on sunset times, which changes throughout the year.  In general, we begin the meals at approx. 18:00 in the winter moths and 20:00 in the summer months (with small changes inbetween seasons or according to the host family).  Our meals generally last 2.5 hours, however the guests may want to stay longer.  If you need to leave early, its not a problem- just let your host know in a polite manner.

 

Can we take pictures at the meal?  What if I need to use my phone?

It is our custom to “turn off” for 24 hours, meaning no cameras and no phones (among other things- which you will learn about at the meal!).  We ask that you respect our customs and not take pictures or use cell phones while at our homes for the meal.

However, if you need to use your phone, it’s not a problem!  Please just walk outside of the home to make your phone call.

 

Can I catch a cab at the end of the evening?

The host will walk out their guests at the end of the evening to a main street where you should be able to catch a cab.  We suggest having a phone number of a reliable cab company as well (you can usually get one from the front desk at your hotel).  Since we do not take transportation or use phones on Shabbat, we wont be able to help on Friday night with hailing or cab or calling ahead of time.

 

I have a special diet and wont eat all of the food at the meal.  Will the host be offended?

Not at all!  Feel free to eat or not eat as much as you like.  If you have specific constraints, best to let us know ahead of time so that we can make sure that you have enough to eat.  Vegetarians and gluten free diets are not a problem at all- there are plenty of options.

 

I celebrate Shabbat on my own.  Is this program for me?

Certainly, but it’s up to you!  Our program is open to people of all backgrounds and religions – most of whom have never experienced a Shabbat dinner before.  We therefore include explanations about the customs at the beginning of the meal.  It may be a review for you, but we find that even people who are familiar with the customs can also learn something new from a different perspective and can also add to the conversation.  We personally love the experience and look forward to it every week. But it’s important that you know what to expect and that this is the type of experience that you would enjoy.

 

Where is the host home located?

Shabbat of a Lifetime has the honor to include over 100 host families on our team.  Because of the logistics of the program, we only set final host details approx. one week before the scheduled date.  At that point, you can expect a detailed explanation of the meeting place where your host will be waiting for you and the other guests at a set time.  From there, your host will walk you to their home.  All of the host homes are located in Jerusalem and are accessible by foot or by a short cab ride from many central hotels.

 

Who will be hosting us for dinner?  

Shabbat of a Lifetime has the honor of including 100 families on our team of host families.  Our families come from a variety of backgrounds and each bring their own unique touch to the Shabbat meal.  Take a look at our About Us page to meet just a few of them!  

 

When will I receive information with the host family details?

You will receive a detailed email approx. 5 days before your meal (on the Sunday beforehand).  The email will include the exact meeting time and place where you will meet your hosts.  

How can I reach my hosts on Friday night?

Our host families do not use phones or check emails during the duration of Shabbat under any circumstances. We suggest printing out all of the information before leaving for your meal.  That way, if you are running late or can not find the meeting place, you can arrive directly to the host home.  The hosts know to expect you and will wait at the meeting place for approx 15 min- but if for some reason, an emergency comes up and you come later than that- feel free to use the address information provided to come directly to the host home.  Jerusalem is a friendly city and people will also be happy to help!  But best to come early so that you dont miss your hosts!

Are we expected to bring a gift?

That is very kind of you to ask! There is definitely no expectation to bring a gift. That being said, if you do choose to bring one, it will be greatly appreciated. 
Wine is a common gift- it just needs to be Kosher certified. The vast majority of wines in Israel are, but if you aren’t sure, you can just ask the shopkeeper.
Flowers are a beautiful gift too- and readily available locally. However, many families will not place flowers into water on Shabbat, so if you do choose to bring it would be best if they come inside water (you can ask the flower vendor to rubber band on a bag with water in it).
Other common gifts are hand towels or a small dish, or a memorabilia for your hometown. 
Electronic items are problematic (we don’t actively use electric on Shabbat). 
If this is too confusing (or even if not), please do not feel obligated to bring a gift, just bring a smile and they will be more than happy! 

How many people will be at the dinner??

Our meals generally have 12-16 total guests. We find that this is a good number to create a positive group dynamic and still enable personal attention over the course of a 2.5 hour meal. 

Will the meal be a home-cooked dinner? 

Our meals are cooked using traditional Jewish recipes in our Kosher (Mehadrin) and Health Department certified kitchen by chefs with many years of experience cooking Shabbat meals for their own families. The food is all food that we proudly serve in our own homes- in terms of taste, quality, and tradition.

How do I pay for Shabbat of a Lifetime? 

Shabbat of a Lifetime accepts payment via any major credit card. All payments are processed through PayPal although a PayPal account is not required. We unfortunately cannot accept cash on Shabbat as we do not engage in financial transactions as part of our traditions.

Can Shabbat of a Lifetime help me arrange with transport to or from the meal? 

 Shabbat of a Lifetime does not include or engage in any sort of vehicle transfers even within Jerusalem.