For Shabbat, have some chicken pot pie with your pre-election anxiety
#tweetyourshabbat is a global movement founded by Carly Pildis, celebrating the struggle and joy of getting Shabbat on the table every week. This is a place for real dinners and real conversations about Jewish life. Join us at forwarding in sharing what you’ll be eating and how your feeling this week at #TweetYourShabbat
I’ll never forget the Shabbat before election day in 2012. I was working for Obama for America. It was about 5:00 p.m. and the sun was just starting to set. I was standing on the steps of the Democratic National Committee headquarters, watching my colleagues gear up for the weekend heading for overnight canvassing trips in Virginia and Pennsylvania, incredibly proud of the organizing we were doing. Hundreds of people were streaming into vans and buses, going to work, and I was going home for Shabbat. Suddenly, I felt gripped with intense loneliness and otherness. I felt different, less American, and racked with guilt that other people would be doing my job for the night. My Jewishness made me feel separate — apart and alone. It’s not an uncommon feeling for Jews.
As I stood on the DNC steps, watching Shabbat inch closer, I seriously contemplated blowing off Shabbat all together, jumping in a van and heading out. I was already justifying it in my head, when I felt a warm hand on my shoulder, a friendly clap on the back. I turned and saw my boss, DC Director Kouri Marshal standing there.
“Shabbat Shalom, Pildis!” he yelled. “Time to go home! We got this!”
Seeing my hesitation he reminded me that an America that values and celebrates differences was what we were fighting for, and I remembered I wasn’t an inconvenience, or irrevocably different and incapable of belonging, I was a loved team member and colleague whose culture was respected and celebrated. I mumbled a thank you and rushed home, struggling to contain my emotion at his display of warmth and inclusion. I knew that I belonged
President Trump has made a habit of telling American Jews we don’t belong, of othering and endangering us. He called the Nazis who marched in Charlottesville very fine people. He called us “greatly disloyal” and said we “are only in it for ourselves” and “stick together. He told violent antisemitic white nationalist hate group the proud boys to stand by — and they were so proud of it they put it on their logo and sold it on their Tshirts.
American Jews have suffered greatly under President Trump’s leadership. A poll released this week found that 84% of American Jews feel that antisemitism has risen in the past 5 years and that 89% found the extreme political right to be a serious threat to American Jews.
President Trump has brought that extreme political right into mainstream and welcomed them at all levels of government. Antisemitic hate crimes are at historically high levels, with every passing year seeing an increase in hate crimes aimed at Jewish Americans. It’s not just Jews, This President revels in the division and in the othering of Americans, and any potentially vulnerable group is a target for his ire, as long as there is a political upside to hate. It is very clear who belongs in MAGA America and who is left out in the cold.
The election is coming in just five days. You could be forgiven for wanting to blow Shabbat off entirely and focus solely on volunteering, donating, or simply doomscrolling. I urge you not to give up on Shabbat this week.
No matter how busy, frightened, or angry you are — if we give up on the things we are fighting to preserve, how will we find the strength to continue the fight? If we set aside who we are in service of America, we weaken the country we love and our place in it. Simply put, when we are tested by history, we need to double down on who we are and Shabbat is a core part of that. I’ll still be observing Shabbat and I hope you do too, rest up so we can fight like hell for the final three days.
I’ll be cooking something distinctly American, chicken pot pie, with a few tweaks from tradition to make it kosher. This pot pie is rich and seasonal, filled with butternut squash, sweet potatoes, kale, sage, and chicken. Most importantly, it’s easy and you can make it ahead of time — I’ll make mine early in the week and stick it in the freezer until an hour before Shabbat. It will make great leftovers when I am working away on Sunday, and fill me with strength for the long days ahead.
Shabbat Shalom. Hope to see you out there campaigning with me these final days of the 2020 election.
How was your week? How are you spending Shabbat? Let us know at #tweetyourshabbat! Everyone is welcome at this table! Come hungry.
Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Chicken Pot Pie
This recipe is a Shabbat lifesaver for a busy week. You can make the whole thing the weekend before and put it in the freezer, throw it in the fridge Friday morning and then bake. You can make the whole thing the night before and it’s perfect the next day. It makes great leftovers ( just reheat in the oven, not the microwave). However you make it, the weekend before, the night before or day of, just make sure that the puff pastry is cold when you bake it. I highly recommend buying precut pareve puff pastry.
3 cups butternut squash diced
3 cups sweet potatoes diced
Tablespoon fresh thyme + 7 additional stems
3 yellow onions, diced
2 tablespoons chopped sage
7 boneless skinless chicken thighs( approximately 3 cups once cut up)
2 tablespoons honey drizzled over veggies
Additional honey and garlic salt drizzled over chicken
2 cups chopped kale
3 tablespoons fresh chopped sage
1 stick margarine
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon onion powder
Defrost puff pastry (will take approximately 2 hours room temperature or overnight in the fridge)
Pour squash. onions, and sweet potatoes into a large oiled casserole pan. Drizzle with honey (about two teaspoons worth) and season with garlic salt ( about a tablespoon, but to taste) and stemmed thyme. Place chicken thighs on top. Drizzle with honey and season with garlic salt. Top with reserved thyme.
Bake until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove the chicken, cool, and chop into bite-sized chunks – not too small, not diced, but tender large forkfuls of meat. Crumble the roasted thyme over the top. Continue baking the vegetables until very tender and rich, about 15 to 20 more minutes.
While the chicken and vegetables are cooking, prepare the gravy. This rich, sage-focused gravy replaces the traditional treyf chicken broth with heavy cream, but has a similarly rich , velvety and warm flavor. Melt one stick of margarine in a large pan. Cook sage in the pan on low, until leaves are thoroughly wilted. Gently and slowly add a half cup of flour and whisk vigorously to make a roux. Add 3 cups of chicken broth and onion powder. Whisk continuously over low heat until the gravy is rich and thick.
Mix together root vegetables, cut up chicken thighs, 2 cups of raw kale, and gravy. Top with puff pastry. Place in the fridge for at least one hour to cool.
Beat one egg and brush over the top of the pastry. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until the puff pastry is golden brown and double in size.