• East Bay Minyan is on hiatus. (After nearly six years, you might say we're resting for shmita)! Email us for more info or if you'd like to host an EB Minyan event.

Shabbat Dinners

Davening connects us to tradition, the Divine, and one another, but that’s only half the fun! There’s no better way to build community than around the Shabbat table. East Bay Minyan matches up dinner hosts and guests and tries very hard to make sure that everyone who wants a place for Shabbat meal has one. Click or scroll down for information on hosting, being a guest, potluck dinners, Shabbat dinners in general, and a note about Jewish observance.


Welcoming guests to your home for Shabbat dinner is fun and easy. And if you’ve never done it before, we’ll help! So whatever your level of kashrut, if you’d like to fulfill the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim (welcoming guests) and bring some EB Minyan friends to your table after davening, write to our friendly meal-matcher at meals@eastbayminyan.org and we’ll help you make it happen.

Being a Guest

Fulfilling the mitzvah of hosting requires guests. So don’t be shy! Meet new friends and make Shabbos and community, by joining someone at their table for Shabbat dinner. Just email meals@eastbayminyan.org, tell us your dietary requirements (kashrut, veggie, etc),  and we’ll do our best to match you up with a delightful and compatible host. And please consider returning the mitzvah by hosting or helping someone else to host on a future Shabbat.

Potluck Dinners

East Bay Minyan sometimes organizes potluck dinners for Shabbat, Sukkot, and other holidays. We also respect all modes of Jewish observance, which can be a challenge when it comes to kashrut. In order to have potlucks where everyone can participate, we have adopted a practice (pioneered by Van Ness/Ruach Minyan, Tikkun Leil Shabbat, and Kol Zimrah) that uses two separate tables for potluck contributions. One table contains food that is vegetarian or fish. The other table contains food that, while still vegetarian or fish, also comes from hechsher-kosher kitchens and has not been carried on Shabbat. This creative arrangement allows everyone to contribute and to enjoy a Shabbat or festival meal together as a single community.

More About Shabbat Dinners

A Shabbat dinner is simply a time to mark the specialness of Shabbat and share a meal with friends. For those of us who aren’t old pros, there is a lot of information on the web, but a typical Shabbat dinner looks something like this:

  • Shalom Alechem: a traditional song to welcome the angels or messengers of Shabbat.
  • Kiddush: a blessing that declares the sanctity of Shabbat and includes the blessing over wine. (Other blessings are sometimes inserted after kiddush.)
  • Ritual handwashing: Done as a reminder of (very) old school Judaism, when the kohanim (priests) would wash to purify themselves for Temple ritual.
  • Motzi: The blessing over bread, traditionally said at the beginning of any meal that includes bread.
  • Dinner!
  • Birkat Hamazon: A series of blessings, sometimes sung as a group, that express appreciation for the food we have just eaten. This is often referred to as “bentching”.
  • Songs: Shabbat dinners often conclude with lively singing. The words to many songs can be found in the same “bentchers” that contain birkat hamazon.

If you need help with any of this, just ask!

A Note About Jewish Observance

East Bay Minyan respects all variations of personal observance. While our public events are designed to accommodate people with a high level of Jewish observance, who could not otherwise participate, Shabbat dinners follow the custom of the individual home. (We do, of course, make sure that dinner guests are comfortable with the kashrut of the home to which they are matched.)

As an inclusive community, we value mutual respect among participants whose Jewish observance differs. Toward this end, it may be useful to be familiar with some of the practices of our more traditionally observant participants. In particular, Jewish law prohibits cooking, carrying, and commerce on Shabbat and chagim (major holidays). Therefore, in observant homes, Shabbat meals are cooked before sundown on Friday night. And if you’re a guest in a traditional home for Shabbat dinner, there’s no to bring anything! (Or you can drop off kosher food in advance.) You can reciprocate by hosting a dinner for your EB Minyan friends on another Shabbat.