Philacatessen | Shabbat in a Box

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Shabbat in a Box, LLC is the brainchild of local caterer Lucky Kejha, who seeks to deliver Shabbat deliciously and conveniently in the Greater Philadelphia area.

“I want to bring young people back to Shabbat,” she said. “Everyone is so busy now — no time to shop, cook, take time for a family meal.”

Shabbat in a Box provides a full kosher-style dinner complete with matzah ball soup, lemon-roasted chicken, roasted potatoes, string beans almondine, potato kugel, freshly baked challah, candles and printed prayers. The dinner is heat-and-eat; you can even microwave it, although Kejha prefers a traditional oven.


But before weighing into the business, I had to ask about her name. She smiled.

“My mother had just delivered me. She was in the hospital and the nurse came to ask for my name so she could fill out the birth certificate,” Kejha said. “My mother said, ‘Well, she’s 18 years younger than her sister, no kinehora, so she’s lucky to be here. I’ll call her Lucky.’”

Seven decades later, the name is a perfect fit; Lucky Kejha is a spunky, spirited, warm, wise woman with a killer sense of humor.

She stumbled on the idea for Shabbat in a Box from a television ad for meals kits that can be ordered online. “I called, and asked about their costs and whether they ship overnight. I mean, they are sending fish, so you don’t want to have that sitting around. The lady told me they don’t ship overnight, that the fish is fine. I said, ‘No thank you.’”

Kejha had been thinking about some type of food business to occupy her spare time: “What am I going to do, sit around and wait for the inevitable?”

Shabbat in a Box seemed the right concept at the right time.

“I wanted to do some good, and I wanted it to have a Jewish angle. We are in such a horrible time right now with the government and politics and everything so negative and tense. I thought about how I could make a difference, my own little way to do good, and I kept coming back to chicken soup and comfort. That is me and my talent — cooking. I came up with the recipes and menu, my daughter thought of the name and my husband created the LLC for me. Now all I need are customers.”

Kejha grew up in the food business; her father established Wallace’s Kosher Meats Butcher Shop in Mt. Airy, while her mother did catering and also helped run the butcher shop. Kejha’s brother carried on the business after their parents died, and it thrived for 40 years.

Kejha learned traditional Jewish recipes by helping her mother with catering from the time she was young, and she has been in and out of the food business for most of her life, both professionally and on an informal basis. She is the go-to caterer for family, extended family, friends and neighbors for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, baby namings, birthdays, parties and special events.

Kejha once fell into an ad hoc lunch catering business while working another job.

“When my daughter went to college, I was bored and decided to get a job. I ended up as one of those perfume spritzers at Bloomingdales. The other girls on the floor headed to lunch on the first day, and I asked them where they were going. They told me they were going to the food court,” she said. “’Oy, it’s so dirty,’ I said. So I told them I would bring them lunch the next day.”

She brought five containers of soup with baguette for her coworkers, and pretty soon she was taking orders and routinely bringing 75 lunches to work.

“I had to quit my job as a perfume spritzer to keep up with the demand for soup,” she said. “My husband had to drive with me to deliver the soup because we had so many orders. But finally he said to me, ‘Lucky, I can’t keep doing this. I have to go to work and I’m spending all my time delivering your soup.’ So we shut down the soup business.”

To order a Shabbat dinner, call 215-947-8019 or email shabbatinabox@comcast.net by Tuesday before 8 p.m. Deliveries will be made Thursday evenings between 5 and 9 p.m. The cost is $28 for a two-person meal and $56 for a four-person meal. (Additional meals for two can be ordered to cover larger groups.)

Watch this space next week for one of Kejha’s favorite chicken recipes: chicken paprikash.

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