Rosh Hashana table.
(photo credit: Wikicommons)
It may be hard to believe, but the High Holy Days are fast approaching.
Very soon it will be time to sit around the table alongside a few
cherished family members and perhaps some less cherished ones.
Hosting such a holiday meal has been a complicated task for many generations now, and it doesn’t seem to get any easier.
hosts are spending the month of Elul, prior to the High Holy Days,
creating a menu that will complement the guests’ requirements. The host
will also be creating guest lists and seating arrangements and investing
a few moments every day in a heartfelt prayer to God for an amazing
So, when hosting a holiday meal: What are the secrets to turn it into an amazing one?Know your enemies
important to be up-to-date with the latest quarrels in the family. Make
sure not to sit two guests that aren’t speaking to each other side by
side at the table.
The awkward silence or constant bickering
between those two is probably something the rest of the guests would
rather avoid. Even if your life mission is to bring peace between
people, putting those two in a stressful environment, surrounded by
their family members’ watchful eyes, might not be the best way to go
about it. Leave politics at the door
always something interesting going on in local and international
politics. Another interesting talking point is the intense debating and
loud yelling that discussing politics can bring to an otherwise orderly
dinner table. So unless you’re bringing up a political subject in order
to distract the aforementioned bickering relatives, you might be better
off letting the family joker tell some stories. Or better still, sing
some holiday songs to include everyone. The party pooper
can be found in every family: A grandmother who is hard of hearing that
whispers loudly in someone’s ear about how much she dislikes the host’s
cooking; or an outspoken uncle who has to say it as it is, and asks the
newlywed cousin who just returned from her honeymoon when she’s
planning on getting pregnant. With family members who don’t find their
remarks entertaining, it might be best to use “divide and conquer” as a
preferred method. That is, if hosting both nights of Rosh Hashana,
invite one on the first night and the other on the second night.
true that after leaving politics at the door, there aren’t so many
things to discuss at the dinner table, and a party pooper is always sure
to make things more interesting. At the same time, you don’t want to
encourage any of your invited guests to leave before main course,
because of a very rude remark, implying that she’s been enjoying her
food a little bit too much lately. Children will be children
the thought of sitting around the holiday table for a couple of hours
sounds like torture, just imagine what the kids around the table must be
feeling. Being cut off from their computer and TV with little
entertainment around the table, it’s just a matter of time before they
start creating some “excitement” of their own.
Some hosts would
just excuse the children from the dinner table. Others are more afraid
of the havoc those children could create around the house, now that they
are unsupervised. Other hosts may want the kids to be part of the
In such a case, there are a few options.Try giving them a
role, such as helping with serving the food and clearing the table. You
may also get them involved in the conversation, by discussing the
meaning of the High Holy Days and encouraging them to share what they’ve
learned in kindergarten or at school.
you decide to do, make sure you have realistic expectations of the
evening. It may turn out to be a night no one will forget, but it’s
better to be prepared for what might happen. At worst, you may be
surprised… for the better.
Nothman has a Masters degree in Conflict Resolution and believes that
like charity, conflict resolution begins at home. If you have any
questions for Shimrit, please use the comments section below or email
her at email@example.com.
This column is brought to you as general information only and should not be a replacement for professional advice.