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No-cook Shabbat for when you hit your pandemic wall

#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 Forward in sharing what you’ll be eating and how your feeling this week at #TweetYourShabbat

As we turn the corner on one year since the pandemic began, mothers across America are standing on the edge of a cliff emotionally, financially, psychologically, and worried they are about to fall off.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, check out the New York Time’s Primal Scream of Working Moms, a project that allowed women to literally call in and scream in frustration. The pandemic has compounded the existing stress and contradictions of working motherhood, making an already tenuous situation unbearable for millions of women. The system was always stacked against working moms, and now the support systems we relied on – childcare, school, the elderly family who can pitch in, have all been taken away.

American Jewish women – this is too much. I am worried about you. You deserve a break this week. Cooking for Shabbat should not be that thing that causes you to fall off the cliff, it should be the thing that helps you hold on.

When I started #tweetyourshabbat, I just wanted to know what you were cooking. I was running out of ideas and struggling with the constraints on my time after transitioning from newlywed to working mom. You sent ideas and I shared mine and the kitchen felt less lonely. Everyone needs to get something on the table, and we want Shabbat to feel special and apart from our normal time and space – yet we are cooking it while on conference calls, while kids demand snacks, or sometimes in the middle of the night just to have some quiet. With so many cooks in my kitchen, we made beautiful Shabbat meals around the world.

When Forward approached me to write a column, it was a heart-stopping moment of joy. I only had one concern – I don’t want to create one more thing that makes Jewish women feel like crap. I try to never forget who I am writing for – not chefs, not food critics, but Moms who work two jobs and are pregnant with their third kid. Home cooks who need to stop in the middle of cooking to run and help a little one with the potty. Dads trying to break down gender roles, bristling at the idea that they are a guest at their own table or a babysitter for their own children. Every week I try to create something beautiful and easy that will fill your house with the joy of Shabbat, instead of anxiety or guilt.

Yet every week, I fail at that task. While many people have told me #tweetyourshabbat is a gift, it is still making some people feel like crap. Every week I see comments where people harangue themselves for not having an Instagram-worthy Shabbat. There is a great quote from Tyra Banks: “Even Tyra Banks doesn’t look like Tyra Banks naked.” I don’t just wake up and just create beautiful food. I test recipes, scour cookbooks, make changes. Plenty never makes it into our inbox – some goes right in the trash. My butternut squash pizza recipe took four attempts and one family revolt against the orange squash. These recipes are designed to be a gift for Jewish cooks, easy and delicious Shabbat recipes for real homes. These are for you. #TweetYourShabbat is ultimately yours.

This week I wanted to create something for the cook who just wept on the bathroom floor for half an hour while tiny hands banged on the door. Many Jewish women tell me they feel small and inadequate and like a failure. You are not a failure – you are amazing. It is America that has failed you. American motherhood is broken. Policymakers failed you at every turn. These policy failures have been going on for decades: lack of access to equal pay, lack of affordable childcare, ongoing workplace discrimination, no paid maternity leave or caretaker leave and so much more have stacked the deck against working Moms. While we continue to fight for change in Washington and in our communities, I have your back. I also have a recipe for Shabbat for the week you just can’t take it anymore. Rest this week, please. You are more than enough.

Here it is, my no-cook Shabbat Mezze platter for your pandemic wall.

How was your week? How are you spending Shabbat? Let us know at #tweetyourshabbat! Everyone is welcome at this table! Come hungry.

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