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Mishpacha participants speak

Excerpted with permission from on-line discussions in the Mishpacha private communities

on striving for Shabbat

Author: George H.
Date: Dec. 17

I think Shabbat as an island in the week would be a good addition to our home; but the island keeps getting caught in the tide and swamped by the waves.

Author: Ricki H.
Date: Dec. 29

I believe that the beauty of Shabbat, the attainment of that peace and acceptance, is something we need to work for. It is not whether or not we are worthy, it is learning to work towards that goal, which is why we are instructed to study, rest, consider, and accept on Shabbat. I feel that the commandment to rest was given because we, as humans, find it difficult to stop the whirlwind of life. Shabbat is an excuse to do so. Though sometimes I understand why people don't want to attend 3 hour services, that time is taken up in prayer and it takes us away from the everyday. I have not chosen to take the full day, but I do enjoy the lighting of the candles, the kiddush, and, when we go, services. We are worthy of Shabbat if we recognize what it is; we all seem to be struggling in our ability to observe and enjoy it to its fullest.

Author: Shana L.
Date: Dec. 17

I like the idea of winding down the week with Shabbat. It helps me to feel appreciation for what I have in this lifetime. I can get so wrapped up with all the things I have to do in this life, sometimes it helps to be able to stop and smell the challah.

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More Mishpacha discussions

Bring Shabbat home

Author: Cynthia B.
Date: Dec. 15

I started lighting the candles about two years ago. I had no spiritual motivations at all. I did want to create "Jewish" memories for my daughter and to create a bond between what she saw in synagogue and home. A good friend, whose parenting I respect, had emphasized the importance of ritual for children. I also wanted to create family time & space and a routine for Friday night that includes synagogue. This is very much a work in progress.

Author: Melisa C.
Date: Dec. 19

Shabbat at our house has been happening for about 14 months (2 1/2 big boxes of Shabbat candles!)

Shabbat was our "first step" into Judaism and a big one at that. I began by making challah--I am so grateful that it's the easiest of all breads to make! The boys help me and we get covered in flour and have a great time. I try to have the house clean (which is NOT a daily occurrence, definitely more of a "Sabbath treat"), a cloth on the table, and fresh flowers, if possible.

The major change in our house is turning off the phone which seems to ring constantly. I often use the phone during Shabbat but when I choose to, rather than when it rings.

We light candles (using my great-grandmother's mismatched brass candlesticks)and say blessings over candles, wine, and bread. The boys wear these tiny kippot I found in NYC, they call them their Shabbat hats.

After dinner our "tradition" is to put on a raucous klezmer tape and dance madly in our living room, although with some guests Will and I pretend it's just something the kids do! The kids absolutely love this and have a blast.

Author: Nechama M.
Date: Dec. 15

We didn't start out with challah, a nice tablecloth, or anything else one associates with Shabbat. We started out with pizza (I felt pizza covered us Shabbat-wise both on the bread and special meal fronts) and wine and didn't make too many changes in how we spent our Saturdays. Then, as I read more and learned more, we began incorporating other elements into our Shabbat observance.

Author: Hadass E.
Date: Dec. 15

My Shabbat observance began when I got together with my present husband. We are both physicists and I was a grad student and working very hard. He suggested that we designate Shabbat as a day that we wouldn't talk about work, or even think about it. We still did our shopping on that day, etc., but there was no science on Shabbat. That was the beginning of the journey which has now got to the point of setting lights and going to shul twice a day ... 8-)

Candle lighting didn't re-emerge in my life until quite a bit after the no-science-on-Saturday rule was implemented. When I first started doing it, it just served as a demarcation of Shabbat from the week. It still does that, but it means a whole different thing now.

Author: Cynthia B.
Date: Dec. 16

Not everything I wrote happens every week! Some weeks, some of it happens; some weeks NONE of it happens. Very, very rarely does it all happen. I'm sort of at an odd stage. I really feel bad when nothing happens -- to me it is a missed parenting opportunity on several levels. And I miss the sense of order. On the other hand, as a single parent with a more than full-time job, I am often just plain too whipped by Friday evening to find the energy to orchestrate Shabbat with the enthusiasm necessary to carry every one along.

On this topic:
Introduction

Creating Shabbat

Seven Shabbat traditions

How to: Words and deeds

Shabbat as a family 

.

 

Considering candles

Author: Sue L.
Date: Dec. 14

I used to light candles, and it felt like I was pretending to be Jewish. So when I stopped, and my daughter asked why we don't light candles anymore, I just kept putting it off until she forgot about it. I know I sound like a terrible Jewish mother. But I can't do it just because she likes lighting candles - it has to be more meaningful to me in order for my family to get something out of it.

But I sense deep inside me that the Sabbath is a truly beautiful thing to experience.

I know with anything new, one can not take on everything at once without being overwhelmed. I don't think it's fair to my family to make them endure a whole bunch of false starts, like I did with the candle lighting.

Author: Sue L.
Date: Dec. 19

I put the candlesticks out this morning, so that I wouldn't forget tonight. I already told my daughter that she will be lighting the candles tonight, so we have been practicing the blessing. She asked if she could blow the candles out, too, which makes me think that she just likes to light candles and blow them out! But we'll try it and see how it goes. Maybe if I get brave enough I will say a blessing for her, at least silently.

shabbat and children

Author: Beth G.
Date: Dec. 16

My daughter (10) and I each have some different things that we do or don't do on Shabbat. She's pretty much come up with her own view on what constitutes work, and those are the things she has decided not to do.

Author: Cynthia B.
Date: Dec. 16

After the candles are lit, I do my version of a blessing of my daughter which is really an acknowledgment of how thankful I am of her existence in my life and noting some things are particularly grateful for that week as well as hopes for the next week. My mom follows suit. It is very hard for my mom to articulate her feelings but my daughter loves this. Two weeks ago my daughter joined in and wanted to say what she was thankful about...which I found very exciting.

Author: Wendy F.
Date: Dec. 16

To try introducing Shabbat observance to all of us, we first decided to start out my lighting candles and calling the next 24 hours total family togetherness time.

The first thing we did was purchase a bookcase with closing doors at the bottom half and shelves at the top. Then in the bottom we put some special shabbat only things we could do as a family. Things like board games, good books to read outloud, video tapes, craft items etc. And on the top shelves we put Jewish items like our Challah Plate, Kiddush cups, Siddurim, and Torah study things. And we made a rule that the toys etc in that cupboard were only for Shabbat. It worked great!

But then I started trying to follow Halacha and pulled out board games that counted, sorted or had money (like Monopoly and the game of Life), and then the videos (because that was watching t.v.) and then the crafts (like making shabbos placemats and challah covers etc., because that included cutting and writing). And as you can suppose it lost its sparkle for my sons. So I ruined things by trying to do things right and eventually we stopped doing anything.

About a year ago I tried to go back, but now they are 12 and 15 and it is so much harder. I propose walking the dog, limiting t.v. watching to only 2 t.v. shows or a movie, and some discussion on the parasha (which they like because they love to take the opposing side to my interpretations!!!)

Also now since I realized strict observance is not their thing, I add more and more observance on my part, but don't require it of them (like not writing, watching t.v. or listening to c.d.s, spending money or driving). So they may be watching t.v or using their computers, but I go into a different room and read.

This method of doing myself and not pressuring them seems to work well, because about 30% of the time now, they will leave whatever they are doing and come and say they want to have a conversation with me, or read a book together.

 

Shabbat and God

Author: Dianne C.
Date: Dec. 17 10:31 AM 1997

Rabbi, Joseph Pollack said (approximately) the following. Keeping Shabbat is bearing witness. What are we bearing witness to? To the fact that there is a creative power behind the universe. When we keep Shabbat we are making a statement of faith.

Author: Hadass E.
Date: Dec. 17

I don't think that G-d "rested" in the usual sense. I think what is meant here is that S/He ceased from the work of creation.. What we do on Shabbat is not necessarily that restful. What we do is to refrain from creative work, that which makes us feel, mistakenly, that *we* are the masters of the Universe. I like having this weekly reminder of humility 8-).

Author: Beth G.
Date: Dec. 17

Instead of feeling humble, I feel, on Shabbat more than any other day, that I am created in God's image, and that, to the best of my current ability and inclination, I am doing my best to emulate God. In its way, it's rather a grand feeling.

Author: Wendy F.
Date: Dec. 18

I think that the Sabbath is a good reason for us to stop our constant "creation" and really sit back and look at and enjoy completely everything we have. Too often everybody is so busy creating they don't even know when they have too much.

Author: George H.
Date: Dec. 19

When God "rested" and saw that the created world was good, God was looking at an early phase of development -- God hadn't yet seen what happened when this human grew in numbers and had to deal with other humans. And as we see from the stories of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Great Flood, and the Tower of Babel, and so many other situations which involved human interaction on a large scale, God kept checking back with this world that had been "good," and was less than pleased with the way things were happening. So even God has to take the time to "rest" and reflect on His handiwork. The basic lesson of Shabbat in that respect is that no matter how well or how badly things seem to be going for us in the workaday world, we need to take the time to look at things and ask, as Mayor Koch used to do, "How'm I doing?"

Shabbat, kids and television

Author: Nechama M.
Date: Mar. 4

We have started to try to slowly limit TV watching on Shabbat. We haven't eliminated it yet, but are starting to institute some restrictions, ie, if our daughter insists on watching it, she has to do it in another room, away from me because I won't watch tv on Shabbat.. I have less of a problem with her coloring than with TV, so that's a compromise that we're working on.

Author: Beth Friedland ( bethf ) Date: Mar. 4 12:53 AM 1998

Sat AM TV before services is my concession to Shalom Bayit (household peace).

Author: Hadass E.
Date: Mar. 4

Even at almost two TV is an issue in our home, we have to be careful it doesn't turn into an electronic babysitter. I am not threatened by people who do things differently. There are plenty of people who object to the family bed and to extended breastfeeding; I don't have a problem in hearing their views, provided they extend the same respect and courtesy to me that I do to them.

Author: Melisa C.
Date: Mar. 4

I have come to wonder if I was the only parent around who limited her kids' TV watching. they seem to focus on awful lot on that particular "deprivation" and look forward to the end of Shabbat so they can watch TV. . . I think all the advertising tends to promote an attitude of perpetual dissatisfaction, always needing to buy more, newer stuff.

Author: Hadass E.
Date: Mar. 4

Alternatives to television on Shabbat: Offer other things to do together. Read books together, sing songs. Build with Legos (I'm pretty sure that's OK). The kids can colour although you can't. Go out for a walk if the weather is nice. Get a book of children's Bible stories and read it together and talk about it.

 

 

 

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