The Shabbat Experience in Charlotte
|Naomi Josman of Haifa University
What a difference a year makes!
Last year, we were ten, sitting around a hotel board room table in Long Beach, California, sharing a "pot luck-style"
dinner on Shabbat, that was put together at the last minute.
This year, were were 20, enjoying a catered Shabbat dinner in Charlotte, North Carolina, where we were gathered
in a private dining room at the Hilton Hotel, during this year's AOTA Annual Conference and Expo.
And what a wonderful Shabbat it was.
Last year, we were forced to light Shabbat candles by the pool, where the candles barely stayed lit long enough
for the women to say the B'rachot, before the wind blew them out.
This year, Shabbat candles were lit in our dining room, and they remained lit through our entire meal.
Last year, the words for the Z'mirot we sang together came from our collective memories.
This year, they came from our own specially-made OJOTC benchers which everyone was able to take home after Shabbat
as a souvenir of this Shabbat Experience.
From Kiddush in our dining room to Havdalah in the Hilton lobby, this was truly a Shabbat experience to remember
and to build upon for the future.
|Meg Nichols and Laura Borutaite of the Hilton Staff
Thanks to the graciousness of AOTA and the staff of the Charlotte Center City Hilton, we sat down and truly enjoyed
our Shabbat together, not just for dinner, but for Shabbat lunch as well.
AOTA provided us with the room, with its own placard outside, and the Hilton allowed our caterer, Jeff Gleiberman
of Charlotte's only Glatt Kosher restaurant and grocery, to bring in our meals, giving us the run of their kitchen and special
refrigerator space to store our lunch items overnight.
|Here Comes Out Dinner -- Just Out of the Oven
Dinner came in just out of the oven, having been cooked at the Charlotte Chabad Center Friday afternoon, and
delivered to us just in time for Candle Lighting.
And what a dinner it was:
Mouth-watering Gefilte Fish, fresh salads, herb-baked chicken, roast potatoes, green beans and luscious pastries
We ate, we talked, we sang Z'mirot, we listened to a Dvar Torah from Paul Stadler of Staten Island and by the
time benching came around, we were exhausted from a day at the Conference and an evening of Shabbat togetherness.
|Chezkie Rand of Brooklyn, Paul Stadler of Staten Island and Avraham Weiss of Brooklyn
We came from various parts of New York and New Jersey, as well as Georgia, Florida, Israel and yes, our host
state of North Carolina.
Not only were we pleased to have AOTA's immediate Past President Barbara Kornblau and her husband with us, but
we were also joined by AOTA Federal Affairs Reprsentative Leslie Jackson, who stopped by to make sure everything was running
well and stayed to enjoy dinner with us. (Leslie was the one who had worked with OJOTC through the past 12 months to help
us make the arrangements for this Shabbat).
|18-month-old Malka Molinsky with Chaya Gottesman of Manhattan and Tamar Fromm of Fair Lawn, NJ
We also counted among us the "youngest OT" (or "OT to be"), 18 month old Malka. daughter of Rivka Molinsky of
Shabbat lunch included plenty of salads, deli sandwiches and plenty of chicken and potatoes that hadn't been
finished at dinner. Joining us for lunch was Liz Lannigan, Treasurer of the NJ OT Association, who has worked with us to make
sure that Glatt Kosher meals are available at the annual NJOTA Conference.
There was even food for those who were staying at the Hilton to take to their rooms for Shalosh Seudot.
|Havdalah in the Hilton, led by Chezkie Rand and Paul Stadler
The only item not planned was where we would gather for Havdalah.
We decided on the plaza outside the Hilton. But the wind prevented our candle from staying it.
So we moved inside, to a corner of the lobby, and there we ended our Shabbat experience.
Shabbat was not the only day during the conference when eating a real Glatt Kosher meal was not an issue.
|Dinner is Waiting During Opening Night of the Expo
AOTA was able to arrange for us to enjoy a full box dinner on the first evening of the Conference, during the
first session at the Expo Hall. This came from Neshama Kosher Catering (Rabbi Mordechai Roizman).
We were told that more than two dozen meals were ordered just for the Expo Hall dinner.
In addition, Kosher meals were provided for other Conference events, quite a difference from a couple of years
ago, when only two OT's asked for Kosher meals during Conference.
|Peggy Gurock, Noah Gurock, Tamar Fromm
St. Louis, April 20-23, 2007, where we hope to once again double the number of OT joining us for Shabbat meals.
And for next year, we are already discussing how we can expand our Shabbat program, to make the Shabbat Experience
at Conference an even more inspiring one. First on our agenda, a Shabbat morning minyan, with Torah reading.