The Unorthodox Tradition of "Wendy's Shabbat"

April 20, 2018
Updated 9d ago

Sometimes tradition is best served with a side of fries.

A new documentary short about a group of California senior citizens who hold their weekly Shabbat dinner at a local Wendy's is a mother-daughter-granddaughter collaboration.

The first-time director Rachel Myers' "Wendy's Shabbat" is about her 88-year-old grandmother Roberta Mahler's search for community after her husband's death.

"I didn't know how she was going to be on camera and it turns out she was sassy and comedic," said Myers in an interview Friday with Cheddar.

Mahler's dinners typically drew about 20 people from her Palm Desert, Calif., neighborhood. Myers said the film is striking a chord with audiences around the country, and is even inspiring some to hold similar gatherings at local restaurants.

"I think that the reason the movie has resonated is because often seniors are not seen on camera in this way, " said Myers. "The seniors in our films are finding the possibility and opportunity in the everyday."

Mahler said the tradition is still "going strong," thanks in part to its convenience.

"You go there, have whatever you want, walk out, no mess, no kitchen to worry about or clean up, it's great," she said.

No, the fast-food offerings are not in line with Kosher guidelines, but Myers said her family is not religiously observant.

For her directorial debut, Myers teamed up with her mother, who served as producer on the film, making the project a three-generation family affair.

"It's been really delightful to discover this other side of my mother and grandmother and have this connection," Myers said about making the documentary.

"Wendy's Shabbat" was scheduled to have its New York debut at the TriBeCa Film Festival on Saturday, April 21.

For full interview, click here.