Here’s a little recap from Shabbos Parshas Vayeitze 5774 / November 5th and 6th 2013.

Over Shabbos we had quite a number of special guests. In honor of Sara’s 11th (hebrew) birthday upcoming this week she had 10 girl 6th grade classmates sleeping over for Shabbat. In addition, our eldest daughter Mushky had 3 of her HS friends over. Ben Z. had a friend Brett from Mayanot Yeshiva over for Shabbat. Brett is active at the Chabad in UMASS and is finishing up his undergrad there this semester. Two prospective freshmen, twins from Woodmere in the Five Towns visited for Shabbos, too. Tal P. had her sister Edi up for the weekend. Eliot H’s parents were up for Shabbos, sweet folks, always good to celebrate with them. Did we miss anyone?

Special on Friday Night? We sang the Ufartzta Song from the Parsha, the pineapple chicken was quite a hit, a nice hung group hung out after the meal, even after Raizy and Mendel went off to sleep. Hillel announced their Week of Awesome (an especially full week of Hillel programming with events almost every night) and Raizy announced a reminder for Snorkel and Study Girls Program sign-ups (over a week in Florida with hundred college girls and excellent teachers, no cost aside airfare) and steep travel subsidies for those interested in spending winter break studying at a Yeshiva in Israel, Florida and some other places.

For Shabbat Lunch we asked Gabe Bensadon (Dec 2013) to speak about his father’s recently published memoir titled “Where the Wind Blew: A Boyhood Lost in Tangier” about growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust to a Sephardic father and Ashkenasic mother in the multicultural Moroccan city of Tangiers, and subsequently in the United States. Gabe was warm and animated, and shared the flavor of his father’s book and the tensions his father grew up with when his mother left for America on her own. Gabe is graduating in December, so we’re glad he was able to share his family’s story with us before he leaves Albany.

Shabbat ends quite early now, so we originally didn’t plan much for the final, light Shabbat meal “Shalosh Seudos” but ended up with about 5 tables of people. No Ding-a-ling Hotline this time of year, so we asked Tal and her sister Edi to share some tidbits of their Moroccan Jewish heritage, the twins from the Five Towns to tell us something about home, and Brett of UMASS shared a beautiful (and useful) teaching about Jacob’s switch from sheep to cattle in the verse’s language when approaching Esav. Jews have to have both sides, the soft meek and humble side, as well as the tough, strong and determined side, depending on the challenges and circumstances.