Monday, June 27, 2011

I thought hospitality was universal...


My friends and I went to a Shabbat dinner and lunch while we were in Rome. They were kindly arranged by the Chabad on Rome and I gave a donation to thank the families that hosted us. I just contacted the Chabad to get addresses for the host families to send thank you cards and was informed that one of the families was upset that I bought my friends who are not Jewish.

Now, I can understand their frustration, but while we were at their home they we much less than hospitable. We were seated at the end of the table and the man of the house spoke to me once or twice and his wife barely looked at us. My friends, who had only experienced Shabbat meals at my house and at the other host family (who were lovely and welcoming) were disappointed. I was disappointed, but now I am irritated, on the cusp of enraged.

I would like to know what these people think when non-Jews have assumptions like "Jews only care bout other Jews" or "Jews are mean and hostile to outsiders" or "Jews don't want non-Jew around their families". I am not blaming all misconceptions on the actions of Jews and Jewish communities, but this family had the opportunity to give these non-Jews a positive and warm experience. Who knows, maybe my friends would have come out of the experience as stronger advocates for their Jewish neighbors. We can't expect non-Jews to go out of their way to explain away what seems like institutionalized Jewish rudeness.

I will not apologize for bringing my friends with me to a meal that I donated money for where we were treated badly. This is the very epitome of "shandah for the goyim" - a Jewish disgrace in front of non-Jews. Something that exposes the worst in our community that will have to be explained away.

I hope that the family in question will eventually learn something that is a more basic and central value of Judaism than Kashrut, or Shabbat, or almost anything else. Hospitality. Abraham and Sarah are remembered as having welcomed everyone into their tent. It was an expression of openness and sharing and generosity. I pray that we will all recognize the importance of these things.

That being said, I thank the other family that opened their home to us and shared beautiful words of Torah. Truly having fulfilled the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim (welcoming of guests).

1 comment:

Loraine said...

Wow, I am shocked. In our experience, members of Chabad are very warm and welcoming to everyone (no matter what faith). I can understand why you are so upset and hope your friends realize that this is not typical.