Attending a Sabbath Meal


My boyfriend and I recently moved to a new apartment. Most of the people who live are Orthodox Jews. We are not Jewish and feel somewhat out of place here. We want to be wanted and to get along with our neighbors.

One Orthodox couple here has welcomed us as neighbors, went out of their way to greet us and made us feel at home here, and now they want us to join them for a Sabbath meal. They seem very open minded and are interested in being our friends.


But we have no idea what to expect at a Sabbath meal. We are nervous about accepting this invitation. We would like to know is there anything special we should do? What should we say to them? What type of food can we expect them to serve? How can we reciprocate? They told us to wear whatever we want, but seriously, should we dress any particular way?



  1. Your question is very broad and it is hard to answer it definitively because much depends on the background of the family that invited you.

    In general, the Sabbath is the climax of the week. It is a day that is imbued with holiness. Everything that happens on the Sabbath is different from the rest of the week.

    For example, the meals are more elaborate and longer than usual. At a Sabbath meal, the talk will often revolve around that week’s Torah Reading or about some of the Laws of keeping the Sabbath. There will also be plenty of small talk and friendly bantering.

    The food will probably reflect the ethnic background of your hosts, but it will begin with some songs to greet the Sabbath and to extol the virtues of the hostess. Then there will be blessings over a cup of wine. After that, everyone will get up to ritually wash their hands in order to eat challah (delicious loaves of bread that are eaten on the Sabbath). The meal itself may begin with some kind of fish course followed by soup (classically chicken soup). The main course is then served and afterward desert.

    The Sabbath meals are normally a gastronomic delight. I hope that you enjoy it!

    Best wishes from the Team

  2. Dear Rabbi,

    I owe you an apology for asking this question the way I did. I should not have said anything negative about the Jewish people. This past Friday night, we had a very nice get-together with the Jewish couple that were so eager to invite us. We realized that they are really no different from anyone else.

    Before that evening, we had a very bad impression of the Jewish people in our development for not being friendly. But this one couple changed all that when they reached out to us. Turns out, they feel the same way we do about the lack of friendliness of the other Orthodox Jews. They have been treated the exact same way! All as they have tried to be friendly with their neighbors, the same way we have. They told us they have lots of Orthodox Jewish friends who are very nice and friendly. They just don’t live in this development.

    Once we came over, they welcomed us very warmly like we had known them for years. It was such an amazing experience. We never had anyone treat us with such kindness. As we got to know each other, we all found we have lots of common interests we them. Just like us, they like outdoor activities like hiking and boating. We are planning on getting together more in the future and enjoying these things. They also like a lot of the same music and TV shows as we do. And they enjoy travel like we do too.

    The did not eat any of the foods associated with Jewish people at all. It turns out they are vegan. They made a variety of plant-based recipes from the cuisines of several countries. Not any of the so-called Jewish foods we always heard of. And all very healthy. That’s exactly what we like!

    I did not have to dress up for them either. I like dressing comfortably, and I normally wear denim overalls all the time. My husband wore a flannel shirt and jeans. I was surprised to see that inside, she wears pants. She says she only wear skirts outside their home and she also wears pants for outdoor activities. She was wearing a sweatshirt and jeans. He was wearing a T-shirt and sweatpants. We didn’t feel out of place at all.

    We are now so happy to have new friends living so close to us.

  3. I am happy to hear that you had such a positive experience. I also find it somewhat ironic that with all your worries about what kind of food would be served that they ended up being vegan!

    Best wishes from the Team