Shabbat in Jerusalem….the families walk quietly, slowly to their place of worship. Our group 14 or so walked to a Reformed Jewish Congregation. They had already begun and the singing was wafting out over the air as we entered. They sat in a large circle, 5 or more chairs deep. Perhaps 120 people. The musicians were exceptional. Harpist, cello, 3 guitars, drummer and several vocialists. They sat in the smallest circle in the middle of the room. The harmonies and melodies, singing in Hebrew, were stunning. The songs sung between the leaders reading and dialoguing of thoughts regarding the scriptures. At times they clapped and danced vigorously. Women twirling with arms raised high.
They sang and danced blessing a woman who was soon to be married. Many women came up and danced with her. Then a baby dedication was sung and again a mother, perhaps the oldest woman in the congregation placed her hands on the parents shoulders. Our friend Michael was invited to lead the singing as the song of blessing he composed is used for all their baby dedication. It was riveting! So beautiful, so lovely, so filled with worship for Yahwah! We just entered in.
As we began to leave we immediately began talking to several people. One from South Africa and other making Alyh from Dallas Texas. They were invited back to the apartment for Shabbat meal. The small tables were moved about to allow as many to set as possible. The roasts ( 4 small) and vegetables were cooked to perfection. The chicken soup was offered in two varieties. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Shabbat begins with blessings, both spoken and prayed, Two candles lit and prayer blessings, then the blessing of the wife and the blessing of the husband. Tender and lovely!
The meal begins with a blessing of the wine! Some serve non-alcoholic (for the children always) Shabbat wine is mildly alcoholic. everyone gets a small amount and the blessing begins in Hebrew followed by song, then the bread is blessed: Hallah bread is always braided and sweet, (some like it with cinnamon & raisins or nuts). Again the prayer and a song. To show bread comes from heaven, and not man, pieces of Hallah bread are torn off and tossed around the room to each person. Its great fun for the kids and one gets to see how good a catch one is or not!
The meal is served in courses, soup and salad, then the heavier roast with potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, carrots, garlic are served followed with dessert, either a cake or cookies or ice cream and ends with fresh fruit. Oophta When we sat at table the number of people had grown to 20 adults and children, what fun as the conversations rose and crescendoed over the amazing chicken soup Mic’hel, our host, had worked on for several hours! Then people began to get to know their elbow neighbors. The noise, the laughter, the joy, the tears as Holy Spirit ministered to us all. We tottered off to bed around midnight but others stayed later. God’s plan for pausing and rest are a national joy! Life in all of Israel stops! What a concept! And as I pointed out, you need Saturday off to recover from Friday night partying! Shabbat Shalom!
Shabbat (Hebrew: שַׁבָּת, Ashkenazi pronunciation: Shabbos, Yiddish: שאבּעס, in English: the Sabbath, “rest” or “cessation”) is the seventh day of the Jewish week and the Jewish day of rest. On Shabbat, Jews recall the Biblical Creation account in Genesis in which God creates the Heavens and the Earth in six days and rests on the seventh.
Shabbat is a festive day when Jews are freed from the regular labors of everyday life. It offers an opportunity to contemplate the spiritual aspects of life and spend time with family. Shabbat observance entails refraining from a range of activities prohibited on Shabbat, such as lighting a fire and cooking.
Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night. Shabbat is ushered in by lighting candles and reciting a blessing. Traditionally, three festive mealsare eaten: on Friday night, Saturday morning, and late Saturday afternoon. Friday night dinner begins with kiddush and a blessing recited over two loaves of challah.
Shabbot Dinner at Micha’el’s home