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Community Blog Chores for Shabbat

By Hebrew College

Elizabeth Bailey StrzetelskiThis fall, my husband and I participated in Parenting Through a Jewish Lens (PTJL) at BJEP. It has given us the confidence to explore our own personal Jewish identities and create meaningful family traditions. The session “Shabbat: A Time to Reconnect and Recharge” inspired us to do just that.

Over the past few months, Shabbat has become a time to unplug from the external world and to focus on the internal world of our own family and home. On Friday mornings we know that at the end of the busy school and work week, we will join together and observe Shabbat.

We each have our chores to complete prior to gathering at the dinner table. I shop for fresh chicken and veggies. Many of the parents in our PTJL class shared memories of eating chicken for Shabbat dinner, so I’ve learn new recipes especially for Friday night. It is Ken’s Friday chore to purchase fresh challah from a Jewish bakery near his workplace.  Ken had driven past this bakery hundreds of times in the past — now he shops there weekly. He says hello to the bakers who now recognize him as a regular.

For our 3rd grade son James, his “chore” is to arrive at the table in a positive mindset. He had reservations about this “weekly unplugging” and it has been an adjustment for him. But, with some patience, even James is coming to the table ready and willing to celebrate Shabbat. I see him appreciating the consistency of our Friday evening rituals.

We use the candlesticks and silver wine cup that belonged to Ken’s grandmother.  Ken and James chant the blessings together; I am slowly learning to say the blessings over the candles. We then each share something we are grateful for in our lives.  After dinner, we listen to music, decide on a game to play, and light a fire in the fireplace. Now that spring has arrived, we sometimes go for a walk or play ball.

Shabbat is ours — to observe, to practice gratitude, and to share time together.  As a newly practicing Jewish family, we look forward to Shabbat with joy!



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