A baguette at the table for Shabbat in Paris

I returned to Paris late this morning, although by the time I had returned to my apartment, the time had struck past midday. Yes, I returned home a few days early—a story on its own, one that I will save for the spring break blog post.

My best friend from camp put me in contact with a former exchange student, a Jewish, Parisian woman who, as a teenager, spent a year living with my friend’s family in Greensboro. Now a wife and mother of four, Laetitia lives just outside of Paris. And it was last night, while preparing my items for bed in my Milan hostel, that I received her email invite for Shabbat dinner for the follow evening.

With no hesitation, I responded an immediate yes.

Shabbat ran as shabbat runs everywhere; The grand dinner, albeit the baguette at the table, the raucousness of the family (eight of them in total), the beauty of shabbat. How warmly they treated me, welcoming in their demeanor. For the evening, I felt a part of their family. And after the last seven days of solo travel, it really did feel nice.

I spoke in French, much to their delight given I think they presumed I would speak English. Its been two weeks without daily French conversation and a full evening of mostly French proved perfect in throwing me back into the language. They appreciated when I asked what a word meant and they helped when I stuttered on my verb conjugations. My house mother typically just stares at me, waiting for me to muster up the right word. Or not come up with the word at all. Because really, Madame couldn’t care less. I like it when others correct me. It’s how I learn.

Different family members took turns explaining to me the meaning behind some of their jokes and French culture references. Laetitia, referencing her own experience in learning English during her year stay in North Carolina, sympathized over the difficulty of understanding humor in a language other than the mother tongue. I laughed, responding that I don’t really understand jokes anyway, English ones included.

Laetitia drove me home this evening. Drove me towards Gaite, the metro stop in which I live by—down the street with a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower. The time struck midnight as she drove and the five minute shimmer light show illuminated the iron lady in her finest glory.

Shabbat shalom, from Paris. After two weeks in Italy, it’s really nice to be home.

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