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One Shabbos, Lifelong Inspiration: Post-Seminary Girls Reflect on Their Most Memorable Shabbos Experiences

Michal Eisikowitz

At the end of a packed year in seminary, it’s the memories of warm family meals imbued with the holiness of Shabbos and hosts who’d “cornered the market” on hachnasas orchim that are often the most vivid. Girls share their fondest recollections of seminary Shabbos experiences.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Ask any seminary girl’s mother for her take on the Shabbos set-up. You’ll likely be treated to a fiery monologue enumerating her dear daughter’s weekly challenges of “finding a place for Shabbos,” punctuated dramatically by the oft-heard, shrill question: “And for this we’re paying twenty grand?”

But fast-forward to several years later and the picture sometimes changes. As the kallah meidel looks back on that seminal year, she’ll often realize that it was those varied Shabbosos that touched her most. Out of ten packed months that whizzed by in a blur, what often remain are the vivid memories of warm family meals imbued with the holiness of Shabbos and hosts who’d “cornered the market” on hachnassas orchim.

For a soon-to-be wife and mother who will be a hostess and queen at a Shabbos table of her own, seminary out-Shabbosim offer girls the opportunity to glean myriad examples of practices, perspectives, and ideals they’d want to incorporate in their future homes.

“When I came back to seminary each Motzaei Shabbos,” remembers Orly Cohen, now a busy wife and mother of a boisterous brood, “I made a list of exceptional hachnassas orchim routines I’d observed that I wanted to eventually integrate. Ranging from the simplistic to the more meaningful, this extensive list included items like walking guests to the bus stop and waiting with them until the bus arrived or learning halachah as a family at the Shabbos table, whetherhilchos Shabbos or shmiras halashon.

“I’ve learned to do things like set up a small table of drinks and snacks in my guests’ room to show that I’m really happy to have them, and I always offer Erev Shabbos potato kugel — it makes homesick seminary girls feel so at home! Being on the receiving end has taught me how to give. And the many seminary girls who now come to my home for Shabbos thank me for the same ‘little’ things that made me feel welcome and wanted as a nineteen-year-old girl.”

“I couldn’t put my finger on why I was enjoying myself so much one Shabbos,” remembers Yehudis Lieberman, now a seminary mentor on the other side of the desk. “And then it struck me. It was the extraordinary shalom bayis that reigned: it was the exceptionally caring way the husband spoke to his wife and the enormous respect with which she reciprocated. Now that I’m married, this couple serves as my personal paradigm, continually giving me something to strive for.”

To be sure, not every seminary Shabbos experience will be remembered fondly. But for a girl who’s eager to grow, she’ll find something to learn, regardless of whether it’s a “do” or a “don’t.”


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