It's a lot more low-key than Chabad, and I wonder if things would have been different for me if it had been around when I was in college - the Hillel was too far away and Chabad was not what I was looking for.
The husband of one of the couples being honored last night takes a Talmud class with jonbaker. Maybe there were empty seats or maybe Lloyd got a certain number of tickets and, even with his mother and her father and their three very tall sons and one daughter-in-law, had some going spare. Anyway, on Monday he invited us and the others (and their wives) to this dinner, which would otherwise cost us $750 a person. We ARE giving a donation, of course.
The short notice, btw, produced an odd result. We couldn't find our place card. There was nothing for "Baker". But. There was a Debbie and Jonathan (Other Last Name). The other last name belonged to another member of the class. That's just too much of a coincidence and, given the short notice, made sense. Once we got that straightened out, we got to sit with the rest of the class.
Before that happened,though, I wandered through the smorgesbord rooms. Yes, *rooms*. Two mirror image rooms, both with two bars, a sushi station, a panini station, a smoked salmon station, steamers of dumplings (chicken and veg) with sauces, duck wraps, cold cuts, passed trays of sushi, beef rounds, tiny falafel burgers and lamb chops and more things than I can remember.
Jonathan missed that - there was the seat confusion and then he got drafted for an evening service (with the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel. Worth missing the smorg, I'd think.)
Especially since he didn't exactly go hungry. There was a trio of cold appetizers (spiced duck breast on a braised fennel and fresh pear salad, Thai beef with jasmine and pistachio rice *and* slices of chicken roulade over yamaguchi) waiting by our places, and before we got a chance to start them, we got the entreés of chateaubriand, bourbon glazed chicken breast, grilled asparagus (so good!) and roasted potatoes. I didn't even touch the chicken, and Jonathan finished my appetizers.
There were the usual round of speeches (for those of us facing away from the front, there were even screens so we didn't have to turn around, plus video presentation of the honorees.) Two of them has such extraordinary faces that I entered descriptions of them in my pda - one was full of the things he'd seen and done, but also of kindness, and the other had this quality of both youth and age, of serenity...
And then there was the Viennese Table, the dessert buffet. Fruit station, chocolate wantons, ice cream, coffee, a brownie bar, cookies, cakes, apple cobble baked in individual china petrie dishes (I shared mine with Jonathan). Tiny lady apples dipped in chocolate. They even suppled plastic boxes so people could take things home.
I did. And brought it to work with me.
And the Waldorf? Is beautiful in that just pre-deco thirties way. Just amazing. all the way around.
(All that food came at a price. 1. The actual cost of the food was $230 a person. They had to say that so that the people who paid would know that part wasn't tax deductible. 2. They hadn't made arrangements with City Harvest (the kosher division, of course) to take the leftovers. *Sigh*. We told Rabbi Buchwald, so we can hope that it will be done better next year. And there were lots of leftovers.)