4/6/15, Fascinating Dinner

Hi Everyone,

I hope that you’re all doing okay, and that all is well with you.

I had a truly fascinating evening recently, and wanted to share it with you. I was invited to a Shabbat Dinner, (a Sabbath dinner) by friends in Paris. They introduced me to their Sabbath dinners a few years ago, and they give them almost every Friday. I’d never been to one before and didn’t know what to expect the first time, and didn’t think much about it before I went. What I found was a really interesting group of people, of all ages, and the atmosphere was lively, warm, enthusiastic, relaxed, congenial. It was a gathering of all ages, many religions, all walks of life. The friends that do these evenings are a lawyer (she), a cardiologist and researcher (he), and they had friends from their own professions, other lines of work, their children, their children’s friends, their friends’ children. The evening began on a religious note as they lit the candles, said a prayer, chanted a prayer, broke bread and sipped wine (no different from our Christian traditions), and then everyone dug into delicious food and engaged in long, interesting conversations about politics, literature, art, film making, and a million subjects. It is a treat to be invited to their Shabbat dinners, and I look forward to it, every time. I’ve been to 3 or 4 of them now, and it’s a privilege to be invited, and I am always intrigued to see who will be there from their grab bag of friends, colleagues, and young people. And the most recent dinner of theirs that I went to was a knock out, and incredibly eclectic. I love the way they gather people around them, regardless of religion, and one feels warmly welcomed, whatever one’s traditions. (What a contrast to the Catholic traditions I grew up with, with quiet Friday night dinners, and always a meal of fish which I hated, although I loved my religion. But I hated the fish, always felt sick from it, and years later, discovered I was allergic to it). At my friends’ Shabbat dinners, the food is plentiful and varied, Italian, Thai, exotic, hearty, roast beef, many choices, and a huge array of delicious, irresistible, and fattening desserts!!! Even the food is joyful at their table, and everything seems happy. To some degree, although I’ve never been to a Shabbat dinner, other than theirs, I think the evening and the combination of people, interesting mix, and long hours of conversation are more likely to happen in France than in the States. The only thing all the guests have in common at their dinners is that everyone is French, probably not by intention, it just happens that way.

The other thing that always strikes me at their dinners is how seriously educated their guests are, and the variety of jobs they have. My own friends seem to be in business, some in the arts, doctors, lawyers, and have pretty human scale jobs. But their friends are in fields that I never even think of. This time I sat between a nuclear scientist and researcher, whose intellectual capacity is out in the stratosphere somewhere compared to mine, although he was very nice, and he’s married to a school teacher. On my other side was a man who sells gold, the man next to him is the head of all cultural radio in France, there were a film maker, a screen writer, a politician of some kind, several lawyers, the age range was from 2 weeks of age (the hosts just had a baby, their 4th child) to 87 years old, with a group of young people at the far end from 17 to 22, two of them law students (the hosts’ older children). Two birthdays were celebrated, 17 and 87. And all the ages and professions and groups were mixed, and it struck me as I looked down the table of 14 or 16 people, that there were two Catholics I knew of including me, two Muslims, and most of the others were Jewish. We all stood respectfully for the lighting of the candles and chanted prayers, as the baby passed from one set of arms to another, amidst the lively discussions around the table, and as always, the table was crowded with platters of delicious food, Mediterranean, Italian, Greek, roast beef and potatoes. There is something for everyone at their table in terms of religions, personalities, interests, careers, and even food (and way too many delicious cakes, and I tried at least three of them).

The star of the show for me was a tiny woman (I’m 5 feet 1, and she was several inches shorter than I), with bright red hair, a lively personality, she strode into the room looking lively and attractive, bursting with energy, and I guessed her to be about 70, and discovered when we celebrated her birthday later that she was 87, that day. She is a documentary film maker, still busy in her career, just released a new movie, and published a new book, and I found her instantly fascinating as I listened to her at dinner. She was as sharp as a tack, and one of the livelier participants at the table, she had style and energy and a magnetic personality. And listening to her, I discovered that she survived 4 of the worst concentration camps during the war, is a well-known personality, and has made some important documentary films, and was married to a film maker. She was mesmerizing as she talked, and showed us the number tattooed on her arm at one point. She spoke without hesitation or artifice, there was nothing arrogant about her, and listening to her life experiences, especially during the war, was riveting. I have no idea how she survived what she did, and remained whole, alive, full of energy and life. Her family had been decimated by the camps and the war years. Our hostess gave all of us her latest book, which I read the next day, in awe of what she survived in the camps, and how she survived it and demonstrated the strength of the human spirit then and throughout her life. Her book was incredibly touching and poignant, and I was filled with admiration for this woman whom time has not touched, but has been through so much in one lifetime. I felt truly honored to meet her and talk to her.

The dinner ended long after one o*clock, and as always was warm, fascinating, touching. I will long remember the tiny red haired, ageless, timeless woman, so full of life and talent, with a spirit that nothing has destroyed. And once again, I went home feeling so lucky to be included in such a special evening, and to meet so many talented, bright people I would never have met otherwise. And then I went back to my own real life, filled with more ordinary pursuits, and less unusual people. What a blessing to share an evening like that, and come home richer for it. And I will be forever haunted by the film maker’s book about her experiences. I felt humbled by it, and all of those around me. It was, once again, an amazing evening, which I won’t forget. It was a rare night, filled with special people of varied and extraordinary talents. And I felt so lucky to be a part of it……

have a great week!! love, Danielle

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32 Comments so far
  1. joyce loomis April 13, 2015 7:43 am

    At first you said you had never been to one, and further down you stated you had been to 3 or 4 of them. Which is it???

  2. Norma April 13, 2015 7:47 am

    Just another reason we love you, Danielle.

  3. Norma April 13, 2015 7:50 am

    Read the second and third sentences again. They go together.

  4. Klaudia April 13, 2015 7:50 am

    The woman with the red hair (87 years old) sounds very interesting. Can you give me the name of her book?
    Thans a lot

  5. Kerry April 13, 2015 7:53 am

    Brilliant. Sounds like a great time. She said she hadn’t been to one, until the first time she had.

  6. Josephine S Chavez April 13, 2015 7:59 am

    Am printing to read later.

  7. Josephine S Chavez April 13, 2015 8:06 am

    After reading this article, and others you have written, makes me wish I could do something exciting. Would love to make a trip to Pars, and see something completely different from what I always see, and have seen. Lucky for you that you get to do all the exciting things you do. I admire you for your great talent for writing, and the good life you have. Especially your children. You are indeed very Blessed. Josephine S. Chavez

  8. Doris April 13, 2015 8:15 am

    Would you be good enough to give us the name of the book the 87 year old lady wrote.

  9. Annette April 13, 2015 8:25 am

    Hello Danielle! I love your books! This dinner that you were invited to was very interesting,is refreshing to learn that people still get together like this,my family is Catholic and we are a big family and when we get together we have different religions, professionas it is very nice.On another note could you share the name of the red hair lady’s book it seems like I won’t put it down until I finish it! Thank you for sharing so much of your life with us! Annette from NJ

  10. Annette April 13, 2015 8:26 am

    Hello Danielle! I love your books! This dinner that you were invited to was very interesting,is refreshing to learn that people still get together like this,my family is Catholic and we are a big family and when we get together we have different religions, professionals it is very nice.On another note could you share the name of the red hair lady’s book it seems like I won’t put it down until I finish it! Thank you for sharing so much of your life with us! Annette from NJ

  11. Gloria Venger April 13, 2015 8:56 am

    Danielle, What a very interesting letter. I am very much Jewish and we just got done celebrating Passover last week[4/3 to 4 10} Was wondering if you have ever been invited to a Passover Seder? If you haven’t I am sure you will find it very interesting also. Would also like the name and author of the book you mentioned in your letter. I have a very good friend that I am sure she would be interested to read. I am now reading Prodigal Son. Really can’t wait to see how the story goes. Love your books. Gloria Venger April 13, 2015

  12. Payricia Schultz April 13, 2015 9:00 am

    Just reading your story about what a great experience you had this dinner party made me see what an extraordinary women you are. That is the reason I look so forward to your books. I’ve been collecting the hard cover books for 35 yrs.

  13. Josephine S Chavez April 13, 2015 10:23 am

    Danielle, did print out your exciting gathering with all these interesting people. Just finished reading it, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The way you wrote it and expressed every moment, made me feel like I was there listening, and enjoying every bit of it. Would like name of book that the lady with red hair wrote, as it must be very interesting and educational as well. Maybe a message to Face Book for all of us to see as I’m not the only one that would like this information. Am glad that you included some information about yourself. You seem to be taller than 5’1 as that is how tall I am. Also, if I understood you stating that you are Catholic??

  14. Abiyot R. April 13, 2015 10:46 am

    hi I learnt a lot of experiences from your books which were already translated to my mother tongue (Amharic). in most of your books women suffer more than men, is that your life experience or just a fiction? thank you!

  15. Annette Aucoin April 13, 2015 11:26 am

    Just love hearing of your experiences! YOU ROCK Danielle Steele!

  16. Jodi krauss April 13, 2015 1:22 pm

    Dear Ms. Steele:
    I have read each and everyone of your books starting when I was in Jr High school. Back then we never called those years in school Middle School. I am now a fifth grade teacher, finishing my 26th yr. in the school system. I was fortunate enough to take close to eight yrs off to bring up my own two children.
    We have been mandated to teach the about the Holocaust to our students. I would love to know the name of author (new friend) and the book age wrote about her life during those horrific yrs. I cry when I read The Giving Tree to my students…. You can imagine how emotional I get during this unit if study. Please pardon the errors as I am writing on my cell phone. Thanks so very much. Jodi

  17. Brooke April 13, 2015 2:08 pm

    Hi Danielle,

    Im s huge fan of your books and woukd love to read the book of the little red headed lady at your dinner party if you could please share the name.

    Thank you

    From a very big fan Brooke

  18. Gail Berman April 13, 2015 2:26 pm

    I am truly impressed by your experience, Danielle. It is, indeed, heartwarming!!

  19. Kathy Gautreaux April 13, 2015 2:52 pm

    Would you want to share the name of the book. I know it is interesting reading. I can see why you were invited, you are a very interesting and talented person too.

  20. Leigh April 13, 2015 4:08 pm

    what is the name of the book and is it available in English? I believe I would like to read it

  21. Cheryl April 13, 2015 5:22 pm

    How inspiring. Looks like you have another book to write. Would love a signed letter from you. Take care. & God Bless

  22. Francine Labelle April 13, 2015 7:04 pm

    I wish your blog was in bold letters. Had a bit of trouble reading this!

    Thanks for sharing your great experience


    p.s. Just finished reading The Prodigal Son (in two days). Oh my, I loved it!
    Thank you so very much for all the great entertainment/escapes!

  23. daphne balkaran April 13, 2015 8:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing. You are an amazing woman. I love reading your books, makes me feel like I’m part of your story.

  24. vanessa April 13, 2015 8:24 pm

    Hi danielle, always love reading ur books n also felt nice reading about the shabbat u went good description. When is ur next book coming out hv read most of ur books

  25. Debbie Schikore April 13, 2015 9:10 pm

    What is the name of the book? I would love to read it!!

  26. GEN April 14, 2015 8:49 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience at this exciting dinner. I think it is just wonderful when many people of all walks of life and beliefs gather together to discuss the world. This happens often at my daughter’s house. She is married to a Greek man. They have 2 college age daughters and the entertain quite often with people from many countries around the world, including China, India, New Zealand, Norway and of course the USA. At their children’s college, there are many international students and my son-in-law teaches Civil Engineering and has his own intrnational business. So I could relate to your wonderful story. Again, thanks for sharing….
    Gen Gallagher

  27. ЛЮДМИЛА April 16, 2015 10:12 pm

    Доброе утро,ДАНИЭЛЬ! Спасибо,Вам,что Вы живете и пишите. я из Белоруссии,но нет преград в мире литературы…. Напишите о нас славянках….живой материал есть-я.Всего Вам найлучшего!!!!!!!!!

  28. Gloria Venger April 19, 2015 7:10 am

    Danielle, Love your books and now I can’t wait for your next one. I will be done reading Prodigal son by the time your new one comes out. I really look forward to reading your books. I guess maybe you can tell that I am a big fan. My bookcase is filled with all of your books.Please keep up the great work. When I read them I feel like I am in the story. Sincerely, gloria Venger

  29. sheila April 29, 2015 1:43 pm

    I am also Jewish and cook Shabbat dinners every week.we also entertain quite often at these dinners and enjoy our time with friends and family. I have recently written a novel and when people ask me what is it about I say its a cross between Danielle Steele and Naomi Ragen who is a Jewish author. I would love to know how to get it published! Any help would be great.

  30. Marilyn June 4, 2015 6:48 am

    You are without a doubt Ms Steel an one of the worlds most talend and gifted writers of our time,and that is an understatement.
    I have a personal story that would make for great writing when I talk bout it yo people they say you should write a book,I don’t write but would love to tell you about it,would be great material, my story.Taken from a hospital by a good women to be tuned away later, to dating a man from a US well known family,to very interesting life. I would be honored just to see it written however. Thank you

  31. КАРИНА June 24, 2015 5:41 pm


  32. Josephine S Chavez April 13, 2018 12:20 pm

    I had read this when it first came out, and did share. Enjoyed reading as it was such an interesting event for Danielle Steel. Am glad you shared. Am amazed at how you are able to write story after story, and how they come out of your head/mind/brain. Thoroughly enjoy reading all I have read. Am currently reading, The Duchess. You are indeed very fortunate for this talent, and how it makes a very profitable living for you and your family.