Frequently Asked Questions
No dress code! Please wear what makes you most comfortable. However, the Shabbat meal is a festive occasion. We do suggest you wear something more formal to match the atmosphere.
The Shabbat meals start depending on sunset times, which changes through the year. In general, we begin the meal at approximately 18:00 in the winter months and 20:00 in the summer months (with small changes in between seasons or according to the host family). Our meals generally last 2.5 hours, however the guests may want to stay longer. If you need to leave early, it's no problem - just let your host know in a polite manner.
It is our custom to "turn off" for 24 hours, meaning no cameras and no phones (among other things, which you will learn about at the meal). We ask that you respect our customs and not take pictures or use cell phones while at our homes for the meal. However, if you need to use your phone, it's not a problem! Just walk outside of the home to make your phone call.
The host will walk out their guests at the end of the evening to a main street where you should be able to catch a cab. We suggest having a phone number of a reliable cab company as well (you can usually get on from the front desk at your hotel). Since we do not take transportation or use phones on Shabbat, we won't be able to help on Friday night with hailing a cab or calling ahead of time.
Not at all! Feel free to eat or not eat as much as you want! If you have specific constraints, best to let us know ahead of time so that we can make sure that you have enough to eat. Vegetarians and Gluten-Free diets are not a problem at all- there are plenty of options.
Certainly! Our program is open to people of all backgrounds and religions- most of whom have never experienced Shabbat dinner before. We therefore include explanations about the customs at the beginning of the meal. It may be a review for you, but we find that even people who are familiar with the customs can learn something new from a different perspective and can also add to the conversation. We personally love the experience and look forward to it every week. But it's important that you know what to expect and that this is the type of experience that you would enjoy.
Shabbat of a Lifetime has the honor to include over 200 host families in our team. Because of the logistics of the program, we only set final host details approximately one week before the scheduled date. At that point, we can expect a detailed explanation of the meeting place where your host will be waiting for you at a set time. From there, your host will walk you to their home. All the host homes are located in Jerusalem and are accessible by foot or by a short cab ride from many central hotels.
Shabbat of a Lifetime has the honor of including over 200 host families on our team. Our families come from a variety of backgrounds and each bring their own unique touch to the Shabbat meal. Take a look at our About Us page to meet just a few of them!
You will receive a detailed email approximately 5 days before your meal (on the Sunday beforehand). The email will include the exact meeting time and place where you will meet your hosts.
Our hosts do not use phones or check emails during the duration of Shabbat under any circumstances. We suggest printing out all the information before leaving for your meal. That way, if you are running late or cannot find the meeting place, you can arrive directly to the host home. The hosts know to expect you and will wait at the meeting place for approximately 20 minutes - but if for some reason, an emergency comes up and you come later than that - feel free to the use the address information provided to come directly to the host home. Jerusalem is a friendly city and people will also be happy to help! But best to come early so that you don't miss your hosts.
That is very kind of you to ask! There is definitely no expectation to bring a gift. That being said, if you choose to bring one, I'm sure your hosts will greatly appreciate it.
Wine is a common gift- it just needs to be Kosher certified. The vast majority of wines in Israel are, but if you aren't sure, you can ask the shopkeeper. Flowers are a beautiful gift too - and readily available locally. However, many families will not place the flowers into water on Shabbat, so if you do choose to bring it would be best if they come inside water (you can ask the flower vendor to rubber band on a bad with water in it). Other common gifts are hand towels or a small dish, or memorabilia for your hometown.
Either way, please do not feel obligated to bring a gift, just bring a smile and they will be more than happy!
Our meals generally have 12-15 total guests. We find that this is a good number to create a positive group dynamic and still enable personal attention over the course of a 2.5 hour meal.
We accept payments via any major credit card. All payments are processed through PayPal although an account is not required. We, unfortunately, cannot accept cash on Shabbat as we do not engage in financial transactions as part of our traditions
Shabbat of a Lifetime does not include or engage in any sort of vehicle transfers even within Jerusalem.