Celebrating Modern Jewish Living Through Food, Tradition, and Family
All it takes is one glance: the challah, the candles, and the wine, sitting so majestically on the Friday night table and you know, you just know that it’s Shabbat.
There’s such simple beauty in the age-old symbols of our sacred Friday night rituals…after all, how much simpler can a loaf of bread truly be? And yet…
For so many of us, based upon where we grew up and how we were raised, Shabbat may have been observed differently (or not at all). In my home, my father’s bagel bakery was closed for Shabbat and reopened late on Saturday evenings after Shabbat, where the streets of Borough Park, Brooklyn would be filled with families walking with their children, pushing carriages, shopping for bagels and pastries and food for the next day (remember those wonderful Sunday brunches when your entire family (25 cousins and all) would gather platters of lox and whitefish and bagels and massive jelly doughnuts? That was the stuff of my childhood). Delicious.
But back to Shabbat.
I love observing Shabbat. I love the pearly white tablecloth on my dining room table and the beautiful crystal glasses and the way my table looks when the challah is draped in a simple lace cloth. I love Shabbat services and listening to our beloved Rabbi ask the congregation to turn to the door of the chapel as we sing the haunting melodies that usher in the Sabbath bride. I love the warmth and ceremony of it all and the knowledge that Jews all over the world are doing the same thing or some variation of the same.
For my husband and me, there’s nothing like watching our children (ok, admittedly, sometimes in their pjs) saying Kaddish and the hamotzi and digging into that first piece of challah. There’s just something about knowing that we are passing down timeless traditions that bring us all together (at least for a little while) for a wonderful meal, all in one place. When the children find their own Kiddish cups (thank you Poppity Pop) with their Hebrew names engraved on them next to their plates, they get excited. When they find the toy candlesticks that they can pretend to light themselves, they know it’s Shabbat.
As a blended family, we don’t have our children with us every weekend, which makes our Friday nights even more special and our Shabbat celebrations even more meaningful. It all starts with that beautiful loaf of challah and two candles, but we know that it began with much more. And that’s what we pass on to our children.