The secrets of frum hospitality

Me at the HotelBy Chaya Miriam Fried

I don’t know if you ever got a chance to stay at a Marriott Hotel, but they have their signature (l’havdil) Book of Mormon and copy of the Gideon Bible in every room (at least I think they still do), and I got to wondering, what would a frum hotel chain look like? Maybe a Chitas or Mesillas Yesharim in every nightstand? They could include setting you up for negel vasser with turndown service at night; they could even offer wake-up calls at shkiah, no electronic door locks, etc.

There’s something about frum hospitality that’s different from staying with non-Jews. When I was a kid, you couldn’t just suggest a slumber party to someone; that was considered rude. Once I reached adulthood, if you asked to crash at someone’s place, you’d better be either drunk with no ride home or prepared to deal with the sideways glances the roommates would give each other, using their eyes to remind each other for what reasons it’s not a good idea. That’s the beautiful thing about frum Jews, you can get away with showing up with nearly no notice, practically calling them from their own doorstep to see if you can crash for shabbos.

I accidentally fell asleep on one family’s couch while everyone farbrenged after shabbos dinner once, and I awoke in the morning to their son (age 11 maybe?) already balancing the baby on one hip while he set up the highchair and offered me negel vasser all at the same time. I thought I’d overslept the entire morning, but he assured me that nobody in the house was awake yet, and I slipped out without incident.

Do you know what happens when you fall asleep after drinking at a non-Jew’s place? They write on you with a Sharpie…ON YOUR FACE. Try dragging yourself to shacharis with an eccentric mustache drawn on. Not getting an aliyah is the least of your problems, I assure you.

A traveling Yid’s only concerns are things like: Did they give you a Styrofoam head on which to place your sheitl at night? Do you have a shabbos light in your room, or do you have to dress with the door partially open and crouching behind an open closet door? Do they have any Trader Joe’s ice cream in the freezer? Are they cool enough that when they say “Help yourself”, it really does mean you can climb into their cupboard in the middle of the night and mamish raid the place? Is the husband going to try to get you to join Ambit right after havdalah?

Hachnasas orchim is pretty much my favorite thing to do right now, I don’t exactly have a hotel website, but I’m trying to polish up my skills (what do you mean you want a clean sheet?), but I figure we’ll get there slowly. We mostly have male guests, which is great because they don’t notice the screw-ups like I feel women might (don’t you just hate mattresses that are like, off the floor and stuff?), and they’re usually pretty young, which is awesome because all you have to say is that you have plenty of beer and it makes up for the fact that I almost always shut off the bathroom light before shabbos. If you consider my husband’s ability to make an extraordinarily good meal and cross it with my ability to vacuum the house very quickly, you can see why the Frieds’ is the destination of choice.

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