The Jewish Table - Sh'ma Journal March 2012

When we consider a Jewish home, it is often the table that captures our imagination. Around that table, families eat, talk, argue, create habits, and construct what becomes family lore and memory. We devote this issue of Sh'ma to examining what happens at a Jewish table — what we eat, who is invited to sit with us, and what we learn.
The word tisch, the Yiddish word for table, is closely associated with a rebbe's Shabbat gathering. Or Rose and Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi discuss the role of the rebbe; Joel Hecker reflects on how a kabbalist might understand the pathway of food and spirit; Charlotte Fonrobert explores how the Shulhan Arukh (the Set Table) became a metaphor for Jewish law and tradition; Shulem Deen shares his history at a rebbe's tisch; Aryeh Cohen and Rachel Nussbaum suggest ways to rethink the hierarchical nature of the "tisch" and establish an egalitarian setting; Ruth Abusch-Magder looks at the foods on the Shabbat table and the women who stir the pot of cholent; and Joel Feigelson asks us to think about what the line from the Haggadah — "Let all who are hungry come and eat" really means today. 

We also include several pages that serve as a "metaphorical tisch" with Mimi Feigelson, Menachem Creditor, Karen Erlichman, Kerry Olitzky, Ronnie Serr, and Judith Kates teaching texts.
Please join us on March 25 at 8 PM EST/5 PM PST when Sh'ma hosts its first "virtual tisch." Go to our website ( and join David Ingber, Amichai Lau Lavie, Mimi Feigelson, Renna Khuner-Haber, and Karen Erlichman, among others for the live webcast. The website will provide easy instructions on how to participate, and how to send in questions and comments. Please learn along with us in real time right from your computers!
Sh'ma has always been committed to fostering real conversation beyond the pages you hold in your hand; we hope this virtual gathering is a significant step forward, with real implications for how technology can radically transform something as intimate and sensory as the Jewish table.
Have you been keeping up with all the great content on If not, you do not want to miss what we have in store for March. Don't forget to check in every Monday and Thursday to read the latest post on our "S Blog." Highlights include:
  • Amitai Adler looks at the traditionally Hasidic tisch in comparison to other non-Orthodox tischim.
  • Rachel Kahn Troster talks about the tisch as a place of connection and the importance and transformative power of hachnasat orchim, or welcoming guests to one's table.
  • Julie Pelc Adler describes her difficulties with the historically male-only tisch, and how she created a tisch for women—the kallah, or bride's, tisch— at her own wedding.

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