An urban family Shabbat 180

I love Shabbat.  Anyone who has ever seen me sit through a Shabbat meal can tell you that my eyes almost always well up with tears (of happiness, of course) when seated around a table amongst my family or friends.  Whether I’m celebrating Shabbat at camp with 300 other people, sitting around my aunt’s beautiful Shabbat table with my cousins, or eating off paper plates on the floor of my apartment, there is almost nothing I love more than taking an entire evening to celebrate the end of the work week with good food, good wine, and good company.

Shabbat at camp...the dining hall filled with lots of people and lots of singing!

Up until I moved to Montreal, Shabbat was a holiday celebrated only when visiting my aunt, uncle and cousins in Toronto, or while I was up at camp.  Once I moved out on my own, however, I began to feel the importance of celebrating Shabbat with the people around me, in order to start building my own traditions in a new city that I now call my home.

Anyone who has moved to a new city knows the importance of building a support system of people around you; an urban family made up of close friends who you know will always be there for you.  They bring you Gatorade when you are sick, celebrate holidays and milestones with you, and help you drag your couch up three flights of stairs every time you move apartments.  I have been lucky enough to have found an amazing urban family since moving to Montreal six years ago; a group of friends who have truly become my family.  And although we see each other on a more-than-daily basis, it is very rare that all of us get together to spend quality time with each other.  Just like a busy family, we all have activities and jobs that take up a lot of our time, but over the years I have learned how important it is for us to slow down, take a break, and catch up once in a while.  And so, every now and then, we all get together to celebrate Shabbat.

Shabbat dinner at home; although there may be a lack of dining room furniture, there is definitely never a lack of food


This past Friday, our Shabbat dinner was a little more special than usual.  Friday, April 1st was Shabbat 180, a collaborative initiative within the Montreal Jewish community which aimed to celebrate our unique and vibrant community by bringing Shabbat into as many homes as possible on the same night.  The ultimate goal?  To have Shabbat celebrated in 180 different homes, in 180 different ways.  And if there is one thing I love about my urban family it is that everything we do is pretty “different.”  Ours was probably the only Shabbat dinner that included a birthday cake made to look like a traditional Montreal poutine, featured the one non-Jew at the table taking the time to learn to recite the prayers in Hebrew, and concluded with a dance party to top-40 hits.  We really did come together to celebrate Shabbat in our own special way.  I have never been happier to celebrate Shabbat with a house full of people that I love.

The amazing poutine cake (special thanks to my incredible roommate, Sarah, for the creation and to Lee, for the idea)

I’m sure that each home that celebrated Shabbat 180 has their own story about why their Shabbat was “different,” why their friends are so awesome, or why their traditions are the best.  I invite you to share your own stories of Shabbat with us, and help us understand what makes your own urban family so special.  And remember…no matter how busy you get, once in a while its important to slow down and enjoy some quality time with the people you love.


Posted on April 6, 2011, in Community, Family, Feel-good, Food, Holidays and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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