Racheli Morris walked up to me in the hallway and I immediately knew it was her. She was so elegant- exactly the way you would think someone who puts together such ornate table settings would put herself together, beautifully. But this beauty has brains too, not only does she lecture on Hebrew and Jewish culture at universities in Southern California; she also mentors teachers of Hebrew and Jewish Studies. She greets me with two kisses, “the Israeli way” she says, and we immediately get into discussing her book and how to set the table for the Jewish holidays.
These days there are so many “do’s and don’ts” it’s hard to keep up. Racheli has made it her mission to bring her philosophy and ideas to the masses. She encourages everyone to be creative and bring yourself and your families’ personality to your table. With more than 70 table settings, a history of the Jewish holidays and delicious recipes, her book serves as a foundation where you can take her ideas and make them your own. It is through the table that traditions are learned and new ones are made. What is so special about Racheli’s book is that she combines her deep knowledge of Jewish studies with her creativity and artfulness so that families can learn, in a meaningful way how to celebrate each Jewish holiday with elegance and style.
For those of you with children and grandchildren there is even a page for each holiday appropriately titled, “How to involve the children,” where she goes into some fun, festive ways to include your kids! Whether it is making a decorative cupcake, arranging floral headpieces for the guests to wear, or even creating a menorah out of clay! Another unique idea of hers, which I’m certainly bringing to my table, is printing a matzo out on regular stock paper and using it as a runner. These tips and more are included in Racheli’s book; Celebrate the Jewish Holidays with Racheli Morris, a perfect gift for the holidays! You can buy it on Amazon, at The Golden Dreidle here in Orange County, and the gift shops in the local temples.
Her ideas are simple, cost-effective and can be done by anyone. These may look intimidating to some (I’m including myself in this category) but if you start small with simple little personal touches here and there —that’s what people remember the most. She even encouraged me, a single girl on a budget, to check out the dollar store for fun ideas!
The most important thing Racheli learned on her journey is to knock on the door and ask for help. That is such a strong statement and I think says something much more than just setting a table. Of course one has to be ready and willing when opportunity comes knocking for you but that’s only half the battle—the rest is up to you. You must have determination and the chutzpah to knock on the door to get what you want. “Don’t wait for anyone,” says Racheli. What a class act.
For more information please visit her website www.rachelimorris.com.
Tanya Schwied graduated from New York University, studied abroad in Israel, and currently works for the CEO and President of Jewish Federation & Family Services.