The Jewish Food Our Chinese Shabbat Guests Loved Best

The Jewish Food Our Chinese Shabbat Guests Loved Best

Last week, we Weisbergs were very, very busy hosting lots of large groups.
Sunday, the last night of Chanukah: we hosted 2 groups: a National Geographic group for candle-lighting, and an American Catholic family for dinner.
Monday: German Catholic theological students from the Dormition Abbey
Tuesday: Josh’s Israeli students for a Siyum
Thursday: A bar mitzvah trip for a family of Ukrainian-Jewish emigres from Long Island.
Friday: Chinese citizens in Israel for a conference
Saturday: Josh’s English-speaking and Israeli students.
It was Tishrei-busy. And today I am the day-after-Simchat-Torah worn out. But it was also a great deal of fun. I loved meeting so many lovely people from around the world (with the added bonus that I didn’t actually have to find a babysitter to do so).
But out of all the groups, and all the cool stories I could share, I want to tell you about a highlight from the evening with the Chinese group.
I always find it interesting when hosting people from different countries to see what they eat and what they don’t eat.
So with the Chinese group, I paid close attention to what they liked and what they didn’t.
They devoured the yerushalmi kugel, but didn’t touch the potato kugel.
They loved the limoncello (lemon liqueur) but drank no wine.
But what was most surprising to me was something else…
It’s true, I make great chicken soup, and every Shabbat I get compliments on it.
But the Chinese guests didn’t just love my soup, they were passionate about it! In my 25-years of hosting, I don’t remember ever getting so many requests for seconds for soup.
Their guide, Eiran, told us that our guests were saying the chicken soup had “chi,” which is a deep concept in Chinese medicine.
Here’s a definition I found,
“Chi is the basic component of all things that exist. Chi provides an energy similar to a fresh breath of air which gives life to all living things, supporting the quality of health of the human body. Physical and emotional health are determined by harmonious flow of chi. Chi is life-force energy known as the joy of being alive or the breath of life. ”
So I guess that explains, according to Chinese medicine, why chicken soup is Jewish penicillin.
Maybe it’s also the reason we call it chi-cken soup:)


  1. Hahaha!! Love the last part!

    Can you share your recipe so we can all get this “chi” Friday night?

    • 3 carrots
      1 big onion
      a kilo pumpkin (this is the secret I think to the soup’s “chi”ness, called דלעת in Israel), but try butternut squash or sweet potatoes if you live outside of Israel.
      a whole chicken
      2 celery stalks
      put in a pot and cover with water. Let it simmer for at least 3 hours, preferably longer. Add soup mix to taste. And matzah balls.
      My mouth is watering thinking about it!

  2. Michael Freedman

    I love this story. It’s great that you’re getting to host so many people in your home!

  3. Love it! Recipe for your soup please? At least the key ingredients? TY!

  4. Sounds like your soup is a “me-CHI-ya!”

  5. Kimberly A Graham

    The Chi is probably the fact you made chicken soup l’kavod shabbos and what they tasted was the special shabbos spice!

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