Someone typed “what to bring to shabbat as a guest” into the search engine to get to my blog this morning. I hope they found a post with the answer, but I thought this deserved a post of its own.
A gift is not strictly necessary. A thank you note, however, is the proper thing to do afterwards.
If your friends keep kosher, all of these make a nice gift to take to a Shabbat meal:
- flowers (the safest choice by far)
- an unopened box of kosher candy or cookies
- an unopened bottle of kosher grape juice
If you are certain your hosts do not keep kosher, add to that list:
- a bottle of wine
- a bottle of grape juice
- some small table item, like a trivet
Flowers are always your safest choice. The reason I say that is that even if you bring kosher food or drink, and you bring it unopened, the hecksher (rabbinical seal) may not be one your kosher host recognizes. If you stick with flowers, you can’t go wrong unless they are allergic to those flowers.
Do NOT take to a kosher home:
- homemade food of any kind
- wine of any kind
- kosher food that has had the seal broken
Just take my word for it. Kosher kitchens are important to those who keep them and these things create complications, no matter how well meant they are.
Last but not least: if you don’t take something, that isn’t the end of the world. Write a paper (not email) thank-you note afterwards, and all will be well. Actual thank you notes are much rarer than wine or trivets, and they tend to be remembered for a long, long time.
If you have a question for a rabbi, click “Ask the Rabbi” at the top of this page, and I will do my best to answer your question! No question is “stupid” and you can rest sure that someone else wants to know, too. You are doing a mitzvah by asking!
3 thoughts on “Ask the Rabbi: What Should a Guest Bring to Shabbat?”
Also, if the home is a very observant Jewish home, you really should not bring anything for Shabbos, because we are not allowed to carry anything on Shabbos. If you do decide to bring something, a gift bag filled with some nice teas (look for the kosher symbols on the packaging, especially good is the letter “u” inside a small circle), after dinner mints and some babka purchased from a kosher bakery. Ask if the babka is parve (also spelled paerve).
Good suggestions all, thanks!
Even the flowers aren’t foolproof; I understand that for some people, putting them in water after Shabbat has begun is not permitted.