My First Shabbat Dinner, Redux, and Telling My Kids

3 Sivan 5774

The prayers went reasonably well, although my ebook reader closed the page with the prayers just after I’d said the candle-lighting blessing. I did, however, get through them and felt accomplished just for getting through the transliterated version. I’ll work on reading directly from the Hebrew later on.

After that I was very, very busy, making all the dinner things. But I’m pleased to report that the dinner went off splendidly, and our guest was impressed. Yay!

The challah was not light-and-fluffy, but it was still recognizably bread, and it tore just like I’m told challah is supposed to tear. It tasted a bit more foccacia-like than eggy, but that’s probably the olive oil. Slathered with butter it was REALLY good. Next time I’m going to try using sugar instead of honey and see if that makes a difference in the proofing of the yeast and the rising of the dough (this didn’t rise much and the yeast didn’t bubble much, either). I’ve also ordered whisks and the smaller pan for next weekend’s Shabbat.

The soup was very well-received and tasted better than I’d hoped for (I am so glad I have a stick blender). The chicken was pretty good and there was enough left over for my partner to take some today for lunch, but I think I want to make it sweeter – the combination of lemon juice AND olive brine made it very, very sour even with the golden raisins added, unfortunately. The rice, although I didn’t try it, was apparently very good. I need to let the green beans cook a little longer, next time.

And one of my candlesticks broke when the flame got near the rim. 😦 So I have to find a replacement for it, somewhere.

My partner paid me a compliment when he got home: “Wow, people will think you’re Jewish with all this food!” We had LOTS of leftovers, but everyone was very full when we got up from the table. So it was a successful Shabbat dinner – yay!

My breakfast this morning was the last bit of leftover challah, some cheese, and some cashews. It was wonderfully filling.

– – – – – – –

About my kids. I have two daughters – sixteen and fifteen – and they’re both incredible young women. They live with my Catholic ex and my ex’s Jewish-by-birth partner, and I mainly get to see them every few weekends for an overnight or two. We have gone about three months without visits due to our schedules not working out, so I was anxious to tell them about my conversion plans. They’ve both been to many Temple services and Shabbats, so I was hoping that neither of them would be too fazed.

Happily, they weren’t. Not only that, my younger one said “If I could choose a religion, I’d probably be Jewish. They let you ask questions and they don’t care if you don’t agree with them.” This means that I can probably look forward to some Shabbat dinners with my kids, now, if they want. I don’t have to hide it from them. It was a lot lower-key than I was worried about, and I’m glad.

When I explained that I wasn’t going to keep kosher, my younger child said “Eh. Not many Jews do. R and N” (her stepmom and one of her stepmom’s daughters) “only keep it because her parents would be upset if they didn’t.” So that won’t be a hurdle either.



Filed under Conversion Process, Jewish Practices, Judaism

8 responses to “My First Shabbat Dinner, Redux, and Telling My Kids

  1. ShoshanaR

    Mazel tov on all accounts!


  2. Mazal tov! I wish you many happy Shabbat dinners. Leftover challah makes great breakfast, doesn’t it? It’s good on its own, but it also makes terrific French toast.


  3. Rachel Sommer

    That sounds really, really lovely.

    Can you post your gluten-free challah recipe? I’d like to try making it and see if it can be braided. Also, if the olive oil bothered you, I recommend grapeseed oil (I use it when I make my regular old wheat challah), which has no particular flavor of its own.

    Regarding the candles: cover the tops of your candlesticks with foil, and when you can get to a Judaica store, pick up the little metal candlestick liners that say שבת on them. 🙂


    • The recipe is on the blog called “Shabbat Shalom,” but it won’t be braidable – it comes out like cake batter. That’s pretty much a standard for all gluten-free breads, unfortunately.


  4. Rachel Sommer

    PS. Your kids are awesome and totally correct in their observations.


  5. Rachel Sommer

    PPS. Kosher chickens come pre-brined.


  6. I should also say a couple other things that happened during telling my kids (I was wiped-out exhausted yesterday for reasons I’m still not able to identify, so I didn’t remember as much as I wanted to; sleeping on it seems to have helped).

    Kid #2 is learning Japanese, and noticed that I was writing things down in Hebrew letters, and asked about it. This was sort of my entry into explaining what had been going on with me the last few months. I hesitantly said, “So… you have a Jewish mom” – my ex’s partner – “so, how would you feel about having a Jewish dad, too?” And neither one had a problem with it. This is when Kid #2 said “Hey, if I could choose a religion, I’d be Jewish.” And the only reason she can’t, yet, is because she lives with my ex-mother-in-law during the week, and they’re deeply Catholic. I’m not going to push her towards conversion, of course, but once she turns 18 that option will be open to her if I have anything to say about it.

    During the discussion of why I am not going to keep kosher, Kid #2 said “I love matzo ball soup; it’s my favorite Jewish food!” So I’ll have to find a way to make gluten-free matzo ball soup, I suppose!

    Kid #1 has ADHD and some other problems, so her attention wasn’t as good as Kid #2, but she still accepted it. When I said the brachot (quietly, under my breath – we went to a restaurant for dinner), neither of them had a problem with it.


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