I had been in Boston for a few days when my fiancé and I broke up. On the one hand, it wasn’t exactly a shock. On the other, we had been together for eight years.
Eight years is a very long time. However, I was in a brand new city, and it was the perfect opportunity to get a fresh start in the world. I intended to build a life for myself in Boston, and I was going to do just that, come hell or high water. There were a few tears and a few phone calls, and then I knew I had to find an excuse to get out of the house. I googled, I emailed, and I found myself sitting down with Keshet’s community organizer the very next week.
“Where are the potlucks?” I asked. “I want Shabbat potlucks.”
“Okay then. Let’s make that happen.”
And so we did.
A Keshet Shabbat potluck is a beautiful thing. It is a place to pray and eat, but it’s so much more than that for so many people. Over the past two and a half years, I’ve gone to about twenty Keshet potlucks. Some of them have had less than ten people, but most of them have had too many people to comfortably fit in the host’s apartment. There have been potlucks in friends’ houses, and there have been potlucks in strangers’ houses. There have been potlucks with too much food, and there have been potlucks with too much wine. There have been potlucks when I have seen Orthodox GLBT Jews moved to tears upon entering a room filled with so many comfortably queer Jews. There have been potlucks where I have seen people storm out of the room because their date flirted with somebody else. There have been potlucks where I have heard of couples’ engagements. There have been potlucks where I have consoled friends upon hearing of significant breakups. There have been potlucks where I didn’t feel comfortable because it was too noisy and I was feeling quiet, and there have been potlucks where I felt bashful because I didn’t know the majority of the people (yes, even me sometimes). However, there has never been a single Keshet Shabbat Potluck where I went home without a hug.
When I sat down with Keshet’s community organizer that day, I knew I needed community after a serious breakup. However, I never could have envisioned what Keshet potlucks have become. From a tiny sprout, they have exploded into a giant garden—vines overtaking flowerpots, roots spreading everywhere, flowers blossoming, fruit ripe and heavy. It is perhaps the most nourishing situation in which I have ever found myself, and I think Boston is incredibly lucky to have such a loving and cohesive GLBTQ Jewish community in its midst.
At last week’s potluck, I spent some time with a friend who had recently gone through a serious breakup. I wish her strength and courage at this moment in life, but more than that, I wish her community. May we all take the opportunities for growth that life assigns us, and may we enjoy this gorgeous sunny season that Boston bestows.
Love and veggies,
I do not know what to do about the issue of there being too many people for the hosts’ apartments most of the time. We have played around with the idea of renting larger spaces, like social halls, but then it wouldn’t be so cozy and welcoming. We have also played around with the idea of having multiple Shabbats hosted on the same night, but then we wouldn’t get to know everyone. I think we kind of gave up and resigned ourselves to being overcrowded. If you have any ideas or solutions, please suggest them! You can post a comment here, or you can email someone who works for Keshet, or if you really really want to you can also email me.
Contrary to popular misconception, Keshet does not pay me! I know; I do community stuff like it’s my job, so it’s really not strange to assume that I am somehow obligated to the organization. But I’m not. I do this because I am a crazy radical who believes in community that much. I think that isolating people in little nuclear families is incredibly destructive to our society and to our souls, even when the little families are queer nuclear families. I believe that you can’t grow a cell outside of the right tissue culture, and you can’t grow a healthy relationship outside of a good community. So cook some veggies already and show up.