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  • Writer's picturelorie mae losloso

"Uncovering Jewish Traditions: My First Experience with Shabbat Meals"

I was in my last year of high school when I was invited to my first Shabbat meal. Everyone stood up to go wash and they returned in silence waiting for the head of the family to make the blessing on the bread. I joked to the table of 25 guests “Wow, isn’t silence golden?”. No one laughed and a few kids giggled. I had no idea about Jewish customs.

Shabbat was the catalyst that made us want to live a more engaged Jewish life. I loved the fact people prepare for Shabbat as if we are welcoming royalty into our home. They set a beautiful table, dressed in special Shabbat clothes, and served the finest foods and they sang songs. For me, I loved the fact that the fathers blessed their kids and the kids shared what they learned about in school. I heard a Rabbi say on Shabbat we stop what’s urgent for what’s important. We stop for 25 hours and remove ourselves from the pressures of our everyday lives.

This Shabbat’s weekly Torah portion Emor teaches us about the gift of Shabbat. It states “Six days you shall do work, and the seventh day, a day of complete rest, a holy day”

I recently read that in 1982, Menachem Begin, Israel’s Prime Minister addressed the Knesset with these words:

“Shabbat is one of the loftiest values in all of humanity. It originated with us. No other civilization in history knew of a day of rest. Ancient Egypt had a great culture whose treasures are on view to this day, yet the Egypt of antiquity did not know a day of rest. The Greeks of old excelled in philosophy and the arts, yet they did not know of a day of rest. Rome established a mighty empire, and instituted a system of law still relevant to this day, yet they did not know of a day of rest. Neither did the civilizations of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, India, and China – none of them knew of a day of rest. One nation alone sanctified the Shabbat. A small nation, the nation that heard the voice at Sinai. Ours was the nation that enthroned Shabbat as our sovereign Queen.

One need not to be a pious Jew to accept this principle. One need only to be a proud Jew.”

Before I kept Shabbat people used to say “TGIF -Thank God it’s Friday”. I then heard the statement “More than the Jewish people have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jewish People”

I then understood the incredible power of focusing on family, friends, community, and spirituality is what makes the Jews unique. Today I am a proud observer of Shabbat and nicknamed the “Shabbat Queen” famous for hosting thousands of guests in my home each year and making all my guests make “l’chaims” a toast to life!

Shabbat Shalom


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