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World’s Largest Shabbat Draws 2,226 to Tel Aviv

The mega-dinner was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records

Stephanie Butnick
June 16, 2014
World's largest Shabbat, in Tel Aviv on June 14, 2014. (Casey Kelbaugh)
World's largest Shabbat, in Tel Aviv on June 14, 2014. (Casey Kelbaugh)

History—at least the Guinness Book of World Records kind—was made in Israel this weekend, as more than two thousand people gathered for what was officially deemed the world’s largest Shabbat dinner. The record-breaking event, which was organized by White City Shabbat, drew an impressive crowd of 2,226 (with 3,000 more people on the waiting list) and required “800 bottles of wine, 80 bottles of vodka, 50 bottles of whiskey, 2,000 challah rolls, 80 long tables, 1800 pieces of chicken, 1,000 pieces of beef, 250 vegetarian portions,” according to the jubilant press release.

Guinness World Records adjudicator Pravin Patel, in town from London to oversee the record-setting attempt, called it at 11 p.m. according to Haaretz, the Guinness rules guiding the event were almost as strict as the halakhic ones.

All the attendees needed to be in their seats and served their first course by the waiters within five minutes, and then be at their tabled eating for a full hour. Table captains were appointed to make sure that the meal adhered to traditional Jewish customs for Shabbat, including the proper prayers, Kiddush, HaMotzei, and that no Jewish religious laws were broken.

While only 1,000 people were necessary to qualify for the record, the crowds came out for the festive event, which was also attended by Ambassador Michael Oren, former Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, and Israeli basketball player Tal Brody.

Sounds like quite the party.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.