On a prominent wall in my office is a framed piece of art by a young friend that she did as a Hebrew school assignment. It is a picture of her family Shabbat table complete with pretty tablecloth, candlesticks, challah, wine cup and even the special Shabbat matchbox. Also, sitting prominently on the table is a large box that says “Pizza Hut.” When her mother, overwhelmed with embarrassment, asked why the Pizza Hut box, she answered simply, “But, Mom, I didn’t know how to spell Domino’s!”
This wonderful picture reminds me every day that we need to remember what the important stuff is. Although a chicken dinner with matzah ball soup and all the fixin’s is nice, the candles, wine and challah plus the family together are the important part! Today many of us are busy. Rather than do something the easy way, we simply don’t do it. Shabbat is a gift of time — it is a time to make memories.
Shabbat-in-a-box: The matzah ball soup mix is fail-proof and it makes the house smell Jewish; buy the pre-made challah that you let rise and then bake (if you want to really get into it, let it rise and then re-braid small challot); chicken nuggets and French fries are easy, too. So, now the meal is taken care of and you get to the important stuff: the blessings and the talking around the table. For now I will leave the talking to you (more later), and most of us are comfortable with the “standard” Shabbat blessings (contact me if you need help). My favorite part of Friday night is the blessing over the children. This is a time to use the traditional blessing but also to have a private moment with each child to share your hopes, dreams and pride. Once this becomes a family tradition, you and your children will feel truly blessed.
Traditional blessing for your children
(For boys) Yiseemcha Eloheem k’Efraim v’cheemenasseh. May G-d make you like Ephraim and Menasseh. (Genesis 48:20)
(For girls) Yesimech Eloheem k’Sarah, Rivka, Rachel v’Leah. May G-d make you like Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah.
FOR ALL: Yevarechecha Adonai v’yishmerecha. May G-d bless you and keep you.
Ya’er Adonai panav eylecha veechuneka. May G-d’s face shine upon you.
Yisa Adonai panav eylecha veyasem lecha shalom. May G-d’s face turn toward you and give you peace.
P.S. Questions? Comments? Please reach me at email@example.com.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.