- This event has passed.
Eshel Across America
November 3, 2023 - November 4, 2023
What is Eshel Across America?
Eshel Across America is an annual event that we mark on the week of Parshat Vayera to teach the Torah of hachnassat orchim, welcoming guests. Shabbat Vayera has a special place in our heart because it is the source of our name. In this parsha, Abraham plants a tamarisk tree, an eshel. Our midrashic tradition teaches that the eshel that Abraham planted provided shelter and nourishment to travelers in the desert. This echoes the heavy emphasis placed on the mitzvah of welcoming strangers in the parsha, as Abraham and Sarah show generosity in caring for the three mysterious strangers who visit them.
Every year, on Shabbat Vayera, we invite our community to participate in the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim. Beyond simply hosting our friends and family, the mitzvah of hachnassat orchim requires us to expand our boundaries, to make space for those who are different from us around our table.
How Can I Participate?
- Invite guests to your Shabbat meal on November 3 or 4! Be mindful of including those who you’ve never hosted before, those who have different backgrounds, demographics, points of view, and life experiences.
- Order challah (including rainbow challah!) from our partner, Challah Back Girls to brighten your Shabbat table. Use discount code ESHEL for 15% off your order. (Order by Sunday to guarantee delivery for Shabbat).
- Sign up below to receive our discussion guide. Use your Shabbat meal to raise questions and discuss the obligation of welcoming the stranger.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How should I invite guests, even those I may not have met yet?
There are many ways you can opt to invite guests to your table. You might reach out by email or text to send personal invites to those you already know. Online platforms such as OneTable and Evite allow you to share a link to the meal you’re hosting more broadly, such as in local Facebook or Whatsapp groups, and welcome new faces to your table. You can also reach out to Rabbis, community leaders, and friends to identify individuals local to you in need of hospitality.
Do I have to be LGBTQ+ to host an Eshel Across America meal?
No! This year we are opening up Eshel Across America hosting to all – LGBTQ+ people, parents, siblings, friends, and allies. We believe that expanding our Orthodox communities’ awareness and comfort with talking about and sharing space with people who are different from them will help us humanize one another and be more open to conversations about LGBTQ+ experiences.
What if I’m not available that Shabbat or can’t host people in my home?
We encourage you to think creatively about the ways you can create a welcoming space to gather people to practice and discuss hachnassat orchim. Maybe you can host a group on a Thursday night for a mishmar-style preparation for Shabbat, get together in a park or larger space, or gather for a melave malka after Shabbat ends on Saturday night. You can always sign up to receive our discussion questions and use them another time.
Will the meals be Kosher?
We encourage hosts to make their meals kosher, but understand that people may have different standards about what counts as kosher. With that in mind, we ask that hosts make it clear to their guests what the kashrut standards are at their meal (such as whether the meal will be catered, homemade, or potluck-style; meat or dairy; cholov yisroel; etc) so people can make informed decisions about attending. Let us know if you need help making a kosher meal – whether that’s by ordering from a kosher restaurant, cooking in a neighbor’s kitchen, or some other creative alternative.