The home of Zvi Vilor in Queens, New York, has become a center for Jews of all types – religious, secular, and otherwise – who come to eat at his home on Friday nights. Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Zvi said that he was inspired to undertake this effort by his own return to Judaism.
“I saw and experienced how people welcomed me, fulfilling the mitzva of welcoming guests (hachnasat orchim),” said Zvi. “I said to myself that when I established my own household that I would do the same, hosting each Jew with love.”
He was as good as his word from the beginning, Zvi said. “Right after the wedding festivities we began hosting Jews from all backgrounds. The first few weeks we had only six guests, and we were disappointed. I told my wife that we would eventually get a lot more – and now we have.”
Nowadays, he said, the family often hosts dozens of people for Shabbat. Zvi and his wife cook all the food themselves, and pay for it as well. So far, four “matches” have been made between guests who dined at their Shabbat table – with one proposal taking place during dinner itself, between the soup and the fish courses.
Running an operation like this is not cheap, and several times Zvi has had to scramble for funds to run the operation. “On Passover we had a major fiscal crisis, but we pulled through and were able to invite a respectable number of guests for the holiday,” he said. Money, of course, is necessary to run an operation like this, he added, “but it's worth the investment. You never know when and how this kind of investment in helping your fellow Jew will pay off.”
But money is nothing compared to the positive Jewish feeling that the Shabbat table that he and his wife host brings to participants, with special Shabbat songs, words of Torah wisdom, and positive conversation fostering a feeling of love for fellow Jews and for Israel, Zvi added.