"It's more than the food “ TGIF in Israel
In 2006 I read in the International Herald Tribune an inspiring article “It's more than the food “ by By C.J. Moore,
and immediately it was clear to me that it was a perfect article to discuss with my students. I teach English as a Second Language in a business college in Israel and am on a constant search for interesting articles. As the title indicates Moore acknowledges the significance of sitting down for a meal with the family. He cites a report that in Britain just 64% of young people eat regularly with their family. What it means is that 36% miss out on a big part of their socialization: they do not get to practice conversation around the table, to try out new ideas, or to exercise table manners.
In Israel we have a tradition that the family gets together on Friday nights for Shabbat meal. I asked my students ( between the age of 22 to 28) to write about the importance of that dinner in their life. I asked them to write a short, one page, and story about Friday night with their family. My assumption was that as young people some would be critical of, or at least question the merit of this custom which involves many preparations before hand – cooking the food, setting the table, and still more work afterwards—clearing the table, washing the dishes etc. I was sure that at least some would say that on their free evening they would rather do something fun with their friends.
However, the results of this little experiment surprised me. All the students who chose to complete the assignments wrote that Friday night was very significant for them. Their tone was not ironic; they simply loved Friday night with their family. Some wrote that it was the most important night of their week, and that they were always looking forward to Friday to meet their family. They all wrote that they helped with the meal and enjoyed it. They wrote about the joy of seeing their grandparents, siblings, or young nephews or nieces. They hardly mentioned what they ate, just that their family always prepared the food that they loved..
I always thought that, in my family, it was I who worked hard at keeping this tradition alive. But lately I came to realize that my adult children are not that different from my students . I am not a great cook, but by being around our table on Friday nights they prove that as C. J. Moore is right: “it’s more than the food” .
p.s You may have heard that in the last few days the south of Israel has been bombed . Here in Tel Aviv and 80 Km away in Jerusalem we went on about our business as though nothing has happened. But to our last evening in Tel Aviv we heard a siren.I refused to believe that it was anything serious but some people said that they heard a boom. Today, Friday when we were busy with our Shabbath preparations, we heard another siren. This time we ran for shelter. On Friday afternoons, in preparation for Shabbath, the National radio airs leisurely programs in which the correspondent interviews proud home makers about their menu for their wonderful Friday night meal. Today ,however, he was taken by surprise when during his shift, for the first time, a siren was heard in Jerusalem. Let’s hope that next Friday we will go back to talking about menus