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14: Hosting

08/16/2019 03:00:00 PM


Rabbi Elie Karfunkel

Of all the roles for a Rabbi and Rebbetzin, none is more ubiquitous than hosting people for meals, specifically on Shabbat and Festivals.

We’ve had guests for almost every dinner and lunch for the past 20 years. When we don’t, our kids often complain that they’re bored.

The guests bring out the best in the hosts, and each other. The conversations are always vibrant with a spiritual aura—no gossip, and nothing petty. 

At the Karfunkels, we’ll have people over who have a relationship with the Forest Hill Jewish Centre, but also people who are just passing through.

We once had a Gentile over who knew the entire Tanach by heart. A pretty humbling experience for me, the so-called-scholarly Rabbi.

And then there was that Pesach when a guest planted a beautiful tray of chametz cookies on the table as a gift. 

Walking home from the shul when it was above Starbucks, I once wished some tourists waiting for a bus a good day, and they replied with “Shabbat Shalom.” 

So, instead of getting on that bus, they came over for a great lunch. 

But my favourite story was when I got a call from the airport from a stranger who heard that I was a Rabbi who hosts people. He asked if he could come for a day until he got settled.

I asked Rifky for permission first. She’d just given birth, so her agreement wasn’t resounding as usual, but she was ultimately willing. This guest slept by us and ate by us that Shabbos… and the Sunday… and the Monday…

(Six months later, my friend and regular guest Murray Goldman bought him a one-way ticket to Israel.)

L’Chaim to hosting! Food brings us all together, which makes the Shabbat table a very holy place, no matter who’s coming over next.

Tue, June 18 2024 12 Sivan 5784