Last fall, a St. Louis Park synagogue decided to make a generous offer to observant Orthodox Jews heading to Minneapolis for the Super Bowl — an overnight stay with another Orthodox family with whom they could celebrate the Sabbath.
The Darchei Noam synagogue placed announcements in Jewish publications in cities such as New York and Boston, which sparked inquiries about Twin Cities kosher food and thank-yous for the kind offer.
By last week, newspapers ranging from the Philadelphia Inquirer to the Jerusalem Post had published stories about the unusual outreach.
With the Super Bowl kickoff on Sunday, however, just one group of seven — a family from Boston — had taken up the offer. That's despite the dearth of hotel offerings in the area.
"It was an adventure," said Rabbi Max Davis of Darchei Noam. "We figured we'd either have a limited number of people — or be swamped. I'm happy with the response."
Late Friday afternoon, the sole hospitality takers had arrived at the home of Darchei Noam hosts Bob Karasov and his wife, Hanna Bloomfield. Guests Naty Katz, wearing a New England Patriots jersey, appeared at the front door with his five children and a friend.
Turned out they had more in common than their Friday night dinner. Bloomfield is a Boston native. Much to their surprise, Bloomfield and Katz learned they had attended the Jewish Day School there together as kids.
Karasov, who thought the Super Bowl outreach was a good idea, wasn't surprised that he ended up being the sole host — with the sole guests.
"I'm guessing that most people wanted to be closer to the swing of things," said Karasov. "And not everyone is comfortable staying in someone's home."
Rabbi Davis, however, stressed that staying with a fellow observant family should have been an attractive option.
The Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown Friday and ends at sundown Saturday. During that time, Orthodox Jews don't drive, don't turn lights on and off, and participate in centuries-old religious practices.
"We knew it would be difficult for people to observe the Sabbath in an orthodox way," said Davis. "There's a lot of details to Sabbath observations, and it's a lot easier to do in community."
Davis thinks the sheer difficulty of getting Super Bowl tickets limited the pool of takers. Plus, staying with a host family requires the buy-in from everyone in a group — and that can be a challenge.
Regardless, on Friday night a group of friends and former strangers sat around a dining room table, lit candles and shared a traditional Shabbat meal. No word on their predictions for the Super Bowl game.