A summertime Shabbat is often a less formal affair, even for those who are pretty informal to begin with.
For one thing, Shabbat starts late; here in Toronto sundown is around 9 pm in July and we’re in the southern part of Canada. By 9 pm, everyone’s just about relaxed anyway as work ended a for most people a few hours ago and the weekend mood has been on.
I should mention that Mitzuyan Kosher Catering is offering a July special you should check out if you’re thinking of a special midyear celebration. Let us prepare you a kosher meal that frankly, you wouldn’t expect to be kosher. But it is!
Cooler, Simple Meals for Summertime Shabbat
The heat and humidity make cooking less attractive for many Shabbat celebrants, who are happy to have a nice dairy meal during the hot and humid season. Moreover, if you are going to wait til sundown to have a meal, you want it to be light if you’re turning in before midnight.
Since it’s summer, many of us may be the road during Shabbat where it can be tricky to observe the holiday. If you’re camping, Shabbat can be even more of a spiritual event since all the cooking can still be done before sundown and everyone can eat ’round the fire.
Here are some ideas for a campfire Shabbat:
- Kebabs: they can be all vegetable or a mix of veggies and meats (kosher, of course!)
- Burgers: meat or vegetable burgers; see the recipe below for lentil burgers to prepare at home
- Fruit salad
All these can be purchased or made at home before the trip. Just be sure you have enough space in your cooler and can keep everything properly iced until it’s time to eat or cook them.
If you have a portable grill with a temperature gage, you can even bake in it before sundown. With the top down, a grill becomes an outdoor oven. Go ahead and bake some challah at your campsite if you’re ambitious! Or, use the grill to warm up food you prepared at home.
Grateful Dead Fans Observe Shabbat with Help from Chabad
I recently read in JTA about a group of observant Jews who drove from New York to Chicago to attend the Grateful Dead’s concerts held on the US July 4th holiday, which happened to fall on a Saturday this year. These fans, who call themselves JamShalom, follow jam bands like the Dead. Like all dedicated DeadHeads, its members knew that this could be the band’s final performances after 50 years of the looong strange trip.
JamShalom’s leader, a US-born Israeli named Shu Eliovson, wanted to maintain Shabbat for his band of DeadHeads. A Chabad member generously offered a private lot near the concert venue, but this was soon vetoed when the Chicago police informed Shu and his fellow Heads that the city’s camping ban included private property. They decamped to a less obvious location—Chabad’s own HQ parking lot—where they kept alive both Shabbat and the spirit of DeadHeads everywhere.
As it happened, the weekend also marked the 20th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s death. We’re sure Jerry would’ve dug the dodge Shu and his buddies pulled off. They were joined by a small group of local Jews who brought instruments to put on a Kabbalat Shabbat service. Traditional songs were set to the tune of “Uncle John’s Band” and other Dead hits. When it was time to attend the Friday night concert, those with tickets were within walking distance of Soldier Field, site of the Fare Thee Well tour.
If that isn’t a Shabbat miracle, please tell me why.
Lentil Burgers and Chutney
Lentils are ancient food and very popular during Biblical times. My Jewish Learning, citing information from The Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, says eating lentils became associated with mourning and were served to mourners after a burial. Later, many Jews, particularly Ashkenazic, associated lentils with poor people so it’s not surprising that they didn’t gain popularity until the whole foods movement became popular. Sephardic Jews, however, have always enjoyed a nice dish of Arab-inspired mujaderra, which combines lentils with rice and “deeply browned onions.”
Don’t know about you, but that sounds delish to me.
Lentils, though, are also associated with Jacob’s deceit of Esau; you may remember Esau was hungry enough to sell his birthright for some food. Guess what was in that stew?
Chutney, of course, is an Indian dish that’s become as popular as Indian cuisine, which we feature prominently among our catered kosher food stations. We like it because it combines fresh fruit with spices and makes for a great topping on all kinds of hot food.