There are so many things I want to write about, but at the end of the day, I usually just want to rip out my contact and sleep.
It was just Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year. This time between the new year and Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement, always get me thinking. We are taught that the book of life is open over this time and on Yom Kippur it is sealed for the upcoming year. I take this as a metaphor, and instead think of myself as an open book, wondering what to write on the empty pages for the upcoming year.
Last year, I decided to take on the ritual of making (and eating, of course) Challah on Fridays for Shabbat. I was able to most Shabbats. In addition to just making (and eating) Challah, we actually celebrated Shabbat. We made a nice dinner, we lit the candles and blessed the wine. We sat together as a family (which we do during the week too, but it felt a little different). I was honored to share my Challah with our congregation’s students cantor when we had him for dinner.
In my open-book-ness, I was thinking about this Challah making ritual. When I began, I made the Challah with Abraham in the sling, putting him down for a rare moment to put the Challah in the oven and take it out again. Now, he helps with the egg wash and sesame seed sprinkle, he dutifully watches the Challah in the oven, and he eagerly lights the candles and sticks his fingers in the “wine” (which is what we call grape juice, which is what the kids have in PA) so he can get to the Challah.
I’m always trying to get back to the feeling of being Jewish that I felt at Camp. Though I cried many tears of homesickness while I was there, I cried many tears of camp-sickness upon my return home. I credit camp with my commitment and continued interest in being Jewish. I can’t wait for Abraham to go to camp. For me, making Challah is a little like camp. It is experiencing being Jewish, experiencing being part of a long line of people (women) who have made Challah and a long line of families who have delighted in eating it.
So I’m wondering, what do I add now, what will I write in my book for this new year. We have been talking about taking on the practice of Havdalah, the ending of Shabbat. We haven’t because we don’t have a set (spice box, braided candle, wine glass…). But that is a cop out. We’ll just do it. And I bet with the frame of Challah and Havdalah, we will be more aware of Shabbat in general. Maybe this will be the year that we all learn to step back, turn off, and truly relax.