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Voices

Le Creuset and the hospitality of strangers

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On Sunday afternoon, I was reminded what it is that I love about the South African Jewish community. It so happened that I was in a particularly good mood. My son had announced his engagement the evening before to a girl we adore, the weather was brilliant, the COVID-19 numbers were low, and together with our soon to be family, we hosted a tea to celebrate the hell out of the occasion.

Unbeknown to us, we weren’t the only ones who had something worth celebrating. It so happened that a few doors down the same road, a similar event was taking place. And whereas I’m not clear exactly what they were celebrating, it was confusing enough to cause chaos. Confusing enough that the street security guard chose to get involved by ushering anyone with a gift into the home of the few-doors-down neighbour. A number of our guests initially thought they were about to be fleeced of their Le Creuset coffee mugs, only to realise that this was a street in party mode.

There were also many who were bamboozled enough to attend the wrong party. When a very busy Glenhazel granny bustled in without so much of a word of mazal past my son and his fiancé as they stood greeting guests, both assumed that she was a guest of the other. Only 10 minutes later, when she returned (still holding what looked like a set of Tupperware) did she explain that as much as she would like to, she wouldn’t be staying. Because this wasn’t the party she was hoping to be at.

Later on, we were told that a number of our guests had made themselves comfortable down the road. And only (I assume) after sampling their catering did it dawn on them that they should have recognised more people than they had done. I genuinely have no idea how many of the neighbours’ guests we fed, and how many of ours were watered down the road.

And it mattered not a bit.

I don’t know if they, too, encouraged our visitors to take food with them when they left (because we had enough left over for a nation in need of a diabetic coma), but I do know that some of our people, who eventually made it to the right function, seemed to have had a very decent time. Which was exactly what I would have wanted for them.

We’ve all heard stories of people arriving at the wrong house for the wrong event. Those stories are funny because they make us uncomfortable in a “there but for the grace of G-d go I” sort of way. Which is why Sunday was so special. Because that was absent. The neighbours’ guests could just have easily spent the afternoon with us as ours could have with them. No one asked why they were there or made them feel uncomfortable. And everyone got fed.

There is something so unique about a community which invites strangers in simply on the basis that they are standing at the door. With a gift from Le Creuset.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Wendy Kaplan Lewis

    Nov 4, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    Love love this article

  2. Frank

    Nov 5, 2021 at 4:58 pm

    This South African Jewish Community is known the World over for everything that makes Our Jewish Community so Incredible.

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