shoshana tagged me to write an Israel experience that I had or one that I heard. Since I haven't been to Israel (yea, I know I need to go ASAP) I'll post about something I read.
I love this article by Sara Yocheved Rigler called
A Taste Of Heaven which is about this lovely couple in Jerusalem who invite and have a huge number of guests in their home for Shabbos and Yom Tov. Eventhough a lot of people there have a lot of guests, this couple has an extraordinary amount and they keep it up every shabbos.
Here's a piece from the article
""For more than two decades Rabbi Mordechai and Henny Machlis have opened their home to an amazing assortment of Shabbat guests. Every week 60-100 guests show up for Friday night dinner, and an equal number for Shabbat lunch. Who comes? Travelers, yeshiva students, university students, the homeless, the mentally ill, Hadassah ladies, tourists, lost souls, U.J.A. mission visitors, new immigrants, drunkards, widows, orphans, Sar El volunteers for Israel, Birthright participants, and truth seekers.
While most of their guests are from English-speaking countries, the Machlis family has hosted people from every continent, and from countries as far away as Japan, China, and the Philippines.
Some people come hungry for food -- the ample helpings of home-cooked gefilte fish, chicken soup, chicken with barbeque sauce, at least three kinds of kugel, an array of salads, vegetarian alternatives, and four kinds of cake. Of course, destitute souls could pick up food at a public soup kitchen, but what is Shabbat without Shabbat songs and words of Torah, which Rabbi Machlis provides as profusely as his wife's cooking?
Some people come hungry for love and warmth. Two orphaned young women in their early twenties have an apartment and good jobs, but on Shabbat they miss the family atmosphere they once knew. A refined 67-year-old widow ate alone every Shabbat for five years after her husband died; her independent persona dissuaded her friends from inviting her. Now all three enjoy the palpable warmth of the Machlis table.
Some people come for the spiritual inspiration and unconditional acceptance Rabbi Machlis radiates. Religious and secular guests sit side-by-side, most wearing kipot, some opting not to. Most people say the appropriate blessings, often for the first time; some opt not to. Everyone is encouraged to say a few words, of introduction or wisdom or personal reflection. Everyone is lovingly received.""
When I eventually go to Israel IY'H, I would love to check out this experience.