Guest post! (written by an anonymous dear friend of mine)
My invitations to Jewish functions are usually very direct.I’ll invite a friend to join me on Friday night for Shabbat dinner or come with me to hear a speaker.And sometimes, even when I can’t make it to something, I’ll send them an invite anyways and encourage them to attend.
Like anything, this direct approach has its advantages and its disadvantages.It gives the person very specific knowledge of the activity, whether it be a dinner or a speaker or whatever else, and can give them the extra push to attend something that they would not have otherwise attended just for the sheer fact that they were personally invited.
On the other hand, such direct discourse can sometimes come off as a bit too aggressive and actually have the opposite effect of what was intended.The invite may come off as a sort of holier-than-thou greeting to try to get them to become more “religious.”As a result, the person may feel intimidated, rather than inspired, by the invitation and respectfully decline in fear of committing to something greater than the one-time dinner or discourse to which they are being invited.
I’ve always been impressed by the markedly warm and welcoming way in which some of my friends invite others to do something Jewish.Yes, it’s important to invite people to meaningful Jewish activities like Shabbat dinners, they say, but it’s equally important to give them the space to make the decision on their own volition rather than feeling like they’re being pulled into something.
This summer, I finally decided to take that approach when I met a student at a social function for Jewish college interns,We had a wonderful conversation about Jewish life on our respective campuses, and afterwards I thought it would be a great idea to invite her to a weekly Shabbat dinner widely attended by Jewish interns during the summer months.
In the middle of writing her a Facebook message on a Friday afternoon in which I planned to invite her to dinner that night, I recalled the idea about giving people space and, rather than sending her a direct invite, I told her how nice it was to have met her earlier in the week and merely ended the message with two simple yet incredibly powerful words as my signature:“Shabbat Shalom.”
Moments later, I received an e-mail from her.She said that it was great to have met me as well, and then, to my amazement, she asked if I had any suggestions for Shabbat dinner that night!I immediately called up Hart -- who as it turned out, was making a H2H meal that night – and told him what had happened.It was a memorable moment and a vivid reminder of the power of the simple two-word greeting we extend to our fellow Jews each week as Friday night draws near:SHABBAT SHALOM.By sincerely sharing these two simple words, we can have a tremendous impact on others.It is a greeting which is inclusive and gives them the space in which to interpret what it means to them at that particular moment in time.Ultimately, It’s about connecting in a real and genuine way, heart to heart, and allowing someone to feel comfortable establishing that connection with you.