What the Heck is a ‘Pop-Up Shabbat’!?

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Last week I told you about the first pop-up Shabbat, “Shabubbe” which I had the privilege to provide challah and dessert for. But everyone has been asking me this week: “what the heck is a pop-up
Danya smiles
Shabbat!?”

Pop-up Shabbat is the beautiful brainchild of Danya Cheskis-Gold, and to understand a bit about Danya is to understand how pop-up Shabbat was born. Danya is a natural community-builder and social connector with a warm smile a mile-wide. She’s been a national recruiter at Teach For America, a founding employee at Skillshare, a consultant for early stage startups, and is now the Director of Community at Spark Capital. In New York, she joined the boards of Jewish non-profits, tested out synagogues in Brooklyn and the Upper West Side, but above all the “Jewish stuff” she did, hosting potluck Shabbat dinners for friends was the most fun and meaningful. And so, this is how the idea for pop-up Shabbat came about.

Pop-up Shabbat will be taking place a few times throughout the year, each with its own name (this time – ShaBubbe) , theme and location. The Shabbat dinner-evening-experience is designed particularly for connecting and is “Jewishly sourced,” which Danya defines as “inspired by Jewish culture but can be enjoyed by all.”


kvass cocktails

When guests first arrived, they were greeted by the music offerings of the Jewbadours, as well as a kvass, gin and orange bitters cocktail made by the talented folks from Gefilteria. And then Danya officially kicked off the evening with words of welcome, a dvar torah and Kiddush.

The first part of the meal itself were some small bites also from the Gefilteria, including pickled watermelon rinds and pickled string beans, as well as their traditional beet borscht.

Chef Melanie Shurka served a variety of Persian flavor-inspired dishes, including two stand-outs: “kuku sabzi,” fritters of fresh parsley, cilantro, tarragon and celery served with labneh yogurt and onions stuffed with ground beef, lentils, rice, herbs, tomato and lime.


Persian chicken

The evening took place in the Brooklyn space of Kitchen Surfing. I might have gotten lost once trying to get there, but thanks to my iPhone and a helpful cab driver, I made it in one piece, albeit a bit sweaty.