The post service communal snack time on Shabbat can be very hard for shul beginners. Known as Kiddush, this is the time to eat. Services have ended, we’ve already connected as a community with our Creator, so it is now time connect to a piece of potato kugel; and do whatever you can to get to it first. There’s only so much potato kugel, chulent and gefilte fish. You have only so much time to make your way to the herring. And you never know if somebody else likes kichel.

If Fran is in the way of your potato kugel, she’s standing in a dangerous spot. She should know that.

The following is what I have learned about Kiddush etiquette over my lifetime of trying to make my way to the chulent, past Bernie Finkelbaum:

Stand in One Spot

Once you are in the Kiddush room, do not move. If you move, other people will be able to get to the chulent too. The idea is to make it harder for other people to get to stuff. If you are standing away from the table, in the middle of the room, and somebody is trying to pass, don’t move. Stand in the doorway if you have to. If you move, it will make it easier for them to get to where they want to go, and that might be potato kugel. Or even worse, the kishka.

Hold Your Spot

This is not easy. Fran Rosenblum may be eighty years old, but she still has some reserves left in her for the egg salad and matzah. To fend off bullies, like Fran, get down into a strong three-point lineman stance. This gives you the most power when pushing off the ground, allowing you to hold your spot and lunge at the pot at the correct time.

Take Before Kiddush is Made…if You Have the Guts

It is general policy that you’re not supposed to take food before Kiddush blessing is made. If you’re willing to get reprimanded by the sisterhood, then take beforehand. If you are meek, like myself, and cower to authority, then pick a good spot. You want to pick a spot within arm’s reach of your goal. Not everybody can squeeze a spot right in front of the babka. As long as you’re willing to reach…

On Second Thought, Do Not Take Before Kiddush is Made

You’re not allowed to take food before the Kiddush blessing is made, unless you are a kid who’s willing to get yelled at. Most people above the age of forty don’t want to get yelled at in public, for taking a cookie. I am not sure if it is an ordinance from the Torah, but the sisterhood protects the chulent pot with fervor.

Reach Past People’s Heads & Torsos

The body does not dictate whether you’re next in line. I’ve seen many arms running right by my face. I’ve looked around and not once have I found a person. I recall one time, I was right in front of the pot, and couldn’t get to it. The arms were coming from all sides. It felt like a Kiddush horror movie.

Pick Up a Plastic Plate First

If you are worried about etiquette, scared of getting reprimanded at by the sisterhood, not willing to eat with your hands and can care less about the environment, this is what you do.

All Utensils You Use Must Be Plastic

If the plates are stuck together, take three of them. Most importantly, make sure that whatever fork you use breaks. At lest one of the fork teeth should get lost in your food.

Use Your Hands

When you get used to eating with your hands, a plate does not hinder your Kiddush enjoyment. In addition, sticking your hand into the fish ensures that nobody else will want to eat the herring. You will also receive much respect from the environmentally conscious, as eating with your hands shows die hard commitment to going green.

Complain If There Is No Meat in the Chulent

Known as a vegetarian chulent, vegetarians are still trying to figure out why people make chulent with no meat.

Do Not Be Ashamed to Scoop All of the Meat Out of the Chulent

Everybody notices when Bernie does this, but Bernie is happy. I’ve seen meat chulent pots filled to the brim, with no meat. Kiddush-goers have a sick sense for sniffing out meat in a pot. Over the years, I’ve learned to locate meat in the middle of potatoes, beans, barley, onions, even squash. Sometimes you think it’s a vegetarian chulent and right in the middle of a legume you pick out a little piece of rib still on the bone, making your Kiddush a success, bringing joy to Shabbos.

Carry the Chulent Ladle with You

If you must move, such as in the case of your child screaming because they cannot find the frosting on their cake, be sure to take the serving utensil with you. This is the only way to ensure that you will be able to get back to your spot. True, there are some who will scoop with their hands while you’re gone. You will just have to respect that.

Do Not Worry About How Your Plate Looks

Pile it high. Double up. Fill three plates if you have to. You never know if you will be able to make it back to the table.

Do Not Wait In Line

There is no line. Those are just people who are hovering around the babka.

If You Do Not Have A Decent Spot Use Your Elbows

Don’t worry about knocking over Fran. If Fran is in the way of you and your potato kugel, she’s standing in a dangerous spot. She should know that.

If You Are Trying to Find Cookies at Kiddush, Go to The Kids’ Table

The children grab that stuff and load up their plates. Nobody’s’ stopping them. Other than yelling, the sisterhood does not take physical action. I for one don’t care in the least if a little child is balling their eyes out. I like my Stella D’oro chocolate in the middle cookies. Eating around it and saving the chocolate for last.

Kiddush is a wonderful communal experience and I bless you that God should give you the strength to to push Fran and Bernie out of the way. God does indeed provide for all, but there’s only so much chulent to go around.