What the Heck is a ‘Pop-Up Shabbat’!?

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 Shabbat!?”
Danya smiles

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.

And of course, challah
and dessert was provided by yours truly: rosemary and garlic challah rolls, “everything bagel” challah rolls, and a selection of macaroons. I would like to think they were enjoyed by all, at least from the generous compliments I received from those in attendance. Perhaps my biggest fan of all was the evening’s artful photographer Cait Oppermann who I noticed kept sneaking roll after roll. Thanks Cait!

This was first taste of what I hope will be many other Jewishly inspired Shabbat dinners with new flavors and new friends to meet.  In the meantime, if you are interested in hearing more about pop-up Shabbat make sure to like the Facebook page for updates or learn more on the website.

I will share that the most exciting part about this first pop-up Shabbat wasn’t even the food – it was celebrating Shabbat in a new way with a group of Jews I had never met before. Somehow we were all connected, either through a shared love of quality Jewish food, or through a social connection. But we were all connected.

For me personally, it’s nice to be out and about with people and my baked goods, as opposed to my usual role here: behind the keyboard. So while I love to connect online, it also feels good to have the chance to meet people, taste delicious, new food and collaborate with other like-minded Jewish-food lovers.

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