Here at MJL we’ve seen how Jews eat, but my friend Leah Jones over at Accidentally Jewish has a great blog post about how Jews and non-Jews clear tables differently. Apparently, non-Jews do just a couple of plates at a time, and Jews do the whole thing at once. Leah says:
How To Clear the Dinner Table
Non-Jews clear the table like a waiter clears the table at a restaurant. Mom takes two to three plates at a time to the kitchen, come back and take a few more. When you get to the kitchen, you scrape the plates into the garbage and then pile into the sink to wash after dinner. Maybe, a big maybe, you might have people pass the plates to the head of the table and then carry an awkward tower of plates, food and silverware away to the kitchen.
How to Clear the Shabbat Table
Jewish families pass and scrape. Mom still stands at the head of the table before she goes to the kitchen, but as she receives each plate she scrapes the food onto the top plate and puts the empty plate on the bottom of the pile. All of the food scraping happens at the table. Then a less akward pile of plates with food and silverware on top of the pile is taken to the kitchen.
I’m trying to think if this rings true to me, but it occurs to me that I don’t tend to sit down at big meals where I’m the only Jewish person. And also, that when I do sit at those meals, usually I volunteer to help clear the table, and then I guess I probably do it the “Jewish” way out of habit. But recently I was at a friend’s Shabbat table and I started to stack plates and was brutally rebuffed. I guess some people just think it’s rude for guests to be involved at all. It’s kind of amazing/embarrassing how much my religion has impacted my table manners.