“One of my friends said to me, ‘Come on, we’re going to go to Wendy’s for Shabbat,'” says Roberta Mahler, 87. “I said, ‘Wendy’s? Shabbat?’ I couldn’t believe this.”
So begins Wendy’s Shabbat, a delightful short film about a group of elderly Jews in Palm Desert, California, who gather at the fast food restaurant every Friday night for Shabbat dinner.
Directed by Rachel Myers, the charming four-minute film profiles this remarkable group that’s thinking outside the bun — er, box. (Wait — that’s a Taco Bell slogan. Let’s just say their idea is fresh, never frozen.)
Viewers learn about the genesis of the tradition (“We’re not fancy people, so we figured, let’s go down to Wendy’s”, says Sharon Goodman, 79, the group’s founder); to the kindness of the Wendy’s employees, who set up and reserve the tables; to the items people tend to order (“I usually have a Son of Baconator,” says Lou Silberman, 91, to giggles in the room. “And some well-done french fries. Other times I’ll have a baked potato and with some chili, because I want to tell you something: Wendy’s chili is outstanding.”)
We watch the group sitting around the tables, saying the blessings over the candles, the wine, and the challah. We see them order and eat their food, we watch them chat and laugh. Then we see them drive off, smiling, in their golf carts in the cool desert night.
“Living by yourself, and having a group like going to Wendy’s — it gives you a feeling of belonging,” says one woman.
And if that’s not the feeling of Shabbat, then we don’t know what is.
Watch the short below. You won’t regret it — and it just may inspire you.