Havura Potluck Shabbat Dinner Planning Guide

The following is a guide to assigning people what to bring to the dinner.

Assignment Guide

(how many people to assign to each category)

WINE 1 1 1 1
CHALLAH 1 1 1 2
SALAD 3 4 5 6
MAIN DISH 4 5 6 7
DRINKS 2 3 4 5
DESSERT 2 3 5 6






WINE - one bottle of a nice kosher wine per person assigned. Suggestion: 1-white and 1-red

CHALLAH/BREAD - two loaves per person assigned (must be uncut loaves of challah/bread and certified kosher).  If two people are bringing challah/bread (because the number of people coming is large then have the second person bring "interesting" loafs of bread (i.e. Zaro's pumpernickel raisin and raisin nut breads)

SALAD - each salad should have about 8-10 servings. Ideas: green, pasta, toboulli, cucumber, three bean, Waldorf, carrot, vegetable

MAIN DISH - each main dish should have about 8-10 servings. Ideas: lasagna, kugels, (2) quiches, rice pilaf (2 boxes), chili, baked ziti

DRINKS - two half-gallon (or 2-liter) bottles per person. Ideas: cola, diet cola, seltzer, diet caffeine free cola, diet Sprite, diet 7Up, orange juice, apple cider,  (seltzer and diet caffeine free cola are the most popular drinks)

DESSERT - each dessert should have about 8-10 servings (i.e. 2 packages of cookies). Ideas: seedless grapes & strawberries, ice cream (2 pints), fruit salad, cookies (cookies are much more popular than cakes)

PAPER GOODS #1 - paper plates, napkins, cups, and bowls (not the cheapest uncoated plates!). Assign paper goods for 125% of expected needs.

PAPER GOODS #2 - plastic forks, spoons, and knives (not the cheapie stuff!) + 50% extra spoons. Assign paper goods for 125% of expected needs.



Remember to remind people that all food must be vegetarian or fish or dairy and contain no un-certified kosher cheese or grape products. Cooked dishes must be made in a kosher home. All commercially prepared foods (including all baked goods) must come from a certified kosher source.

Guests with non-kosher kitchens can make a fruit or green salad for the havura as long as all the ingredients are fresh, cold, and uncooked vegetables or fruit. There must not be any onions, radishes or scallions used in green salads prepared in non-kosher kitchens.

Guests with non-kosher kitchens can also buy pasta dishes from a kosher place (see below), kugels and salads from various certified kosher places and other items from the kosher places listed below. The heating up of items in non-kosher kitchens is problematic.  Arrangements for heating up items bought by those with non-kosher kitchens should be arranged with the havura's host(s) assuming they have a kosher kitchen. Otherwise alternative arrangements must be made.

Guests with non-kosher kitchens can also buy the "easy" non-cooked items listed below.

"Easy" non-cooked food ideas

  • 2 bags of pre-washed carrots and a dip (i.e. hummous, techina, baba-ganoush).
  • "Interesting" loafs of bread (i.e. Zaro's pumpernickel raisin and raisin nut breads).
  • Prepared (and certified kosher) baba-ganush and techina or hummus dips from the dairy sections of many supermarkets and pre-cut vege's and/or pita bread slices
  • Bags of prepared green salad mix (iceberg lettuce, cabbage and carrots), tomatoes and other ingredients for a green salad.
  • Bags of plain cole slaw.
  • seedless grapes and strawberries can also be served as a side dish.
  • lox.
  • gefilte fish.
  • 101 Simple Salads for the Season (from the New York Times)


Please remember that the havura only serves kosher dairy or kosher pareve foods (including fish).  Some of the places listed below (in alphabetical order) also sell foods that are not dairy, pareve or kosher. As these are all commercial establishments, all food brought to the havura from them must be specifically certified kosher (unless the entire establishment is kosher, as noted below).

Bagels & Co. - Amsterdam Avenue between 78tha and 79th. Offers a limited selection of pasta dishes. Compared to Saba's (below) the dishes cost less and are smaller. My guess is that three pasta dishes from Bagels & Co. has about the same amount of food as two dishes from Saba's. Closes for Shabbat.

Saba's Pizza - Amsterdam Avenue between 79th and 80th. Sells only kosher food including a variety of pasta dishes (i.e. baked ziti). Closes for Shabbat.

Fairway - Broadway between 74th and 75th streets. Sells some certified kosher prepared and in-store baked goods as well as various kosher packaged goods. Be sure to check that the particular item is certified kosher.

Fischer Brothers - West 72 Street between Broadway and West End Avenue. Sells only kosher food. Closes for Shabbat.

Kosher Marketplace - Broadway between 90th and 91st streets. Sells only kosher food including various prepared salads and main dishes as well as challah's. Sells meat and pareve prepared and packaged foods as well as dairy, pareve and meat packaged foods. Closes for Shabbat.

Zabar's - Broadway and 80th. Be sure to check that the particular item is certified kosher.


Typically the "hardest" items to get people to bring are main dishes and salads. One way of encouraging people to bring these is to use the following opening line(s) to this part of the conversation when calling them to discuss what they are bringing;

"What would you like to make? If you have a kosher home and can cook then could you bring a main dish or salad, if not then I can assign you something to buy."

This states the havura's legitimate needs without (hopefully) making someone feel uncomfortable if they can not prepare a main dish or salad. There are some people who would always bring two boxes of cookies (or paper goods or soda) if they could because it is less effort (or expense?) and not because they can't do something more complicated (or expensive) if asked. This obviously doesn't apply to everyone as there are also those who, for various reason(s), can't bring anything but a simple store bought item.


Please remind guests bringing wine, challah and paper goods to have their contributions (if not themselves) arrive well before the actual time dinner is served.

the havura home page has the current schedule and reservation information.

Last revision: 1/26/2024