Every Friday, I'll be offering a story, recipe, suggestion, or idea to inspire you and your family to make the coming Shabbat extra special - and for this first "Shabbat Shalom!" post, I thought I would offer a snapshot of what Shabbat looks like in my home.
My husband and I are both rabbis, and he serves a congregation - which means that Shabbat dinner is not a traditionally long, relaxed, and leisurely meal for us and our three kids. (Shabbat rest is important, of course, but so is his showing up for services on time, and with a good sermon prepared to boot!) While trying to balance a family Shabbat experience with one parent's commitment to leading a synagogue is not the most common scenario, ithe challenges it presents are actually pretty typical: With the many obligations we have, and the many demands on our time we face, is it really possible to set aside one day - or even one meal - as sacred time?
You probably won't be surprised to hear that I answer that question with a "yes." But I'm also pretty liberal in what qualifies as "sacred time" - and I urge you to think that way as well. While an extended Shabbat meal of homemade delicacies served on a beautifully-set table, consumed as participants talk about the weekly Torah portion and other topics of Jewish interest, sounds totally amazing (sign me up if you do this and are looking for a new guest!), there are many other ways that we can make Shabbat holy and special "sacred time" for ourselves and for our families. Don't be afraid to start small; instead of thinking, "I can't do Shabbat, I don't even light the candles," well, try lighting the candles! Even if one parent gets home late from work, it's well after sunset and the kids have already eaten, still bring the family together to kindle the Shabbat lights in a darkened room. It is beautiful, and you and your kids will love the sense of closeness and magic that emanates from those flames. If you don't have the time or the interest to cook a full Shabbat dinner, set aside an easy-to-make (or easy-to-carry-out) dish that the family enjoys as a Shabbat treat. And if you're already "doing" Shabbat, consider enhancing your celebration with new ritual objects created by your kids (I'll provide ideas in future posts) or deepening the mood around the Shabbat table by talking about the week's Torah portion, sharing family stories, or even singing a new Shabbat song (guiding questions and resources will come in future weeks)
With our overwhelmingly busy and secular lives, we may have a hard time remembering that a day of rest and holiness is our birthright as Jews. But it is! Claiming Shabbat and making Shabbat may feel intimidating - but we may find that one small step leads to another, and to another - and that each of those steps brings its own joy, and its own meaning, and its own reward. My Friday posts will be all about exploring and taking those steps - and about wishing you and yours "Shabbat Shalom!" - a Shabbat of peace, happiness, and abundant blessing.