Feb 17, 2014

Celebrating Shabbat with Author Tracy Newman

In this week's guest blog post, Tracy Newman, author of Shabbat is Coming! talks about preparing for Shabbat and developing traditions with her family.

Find Shabbat is Coming! on the Kar-Ben website.
 
Shabbat is Coming:
On Fridays, my family knows that something is special is coming.

“Is today Shabbat?” my little one asks, a smile on her face.

“Yes, Shabbat begins tonight,” I answer.

“Yay!” She cheers and does a happy dance.

And so we prepare. We buy flowers for the kitchen table. I cook their favorite dinner (chicken cutlets—just like my grandmother used to make). The kids add candles to the candle sticks, fill the Kiddush cup and lay a fresh, sweet challah on the challah board.

In my home, our celebrations aren’t fancy, and the kids are sometimes restless and tired by sunset, but we do make an effort to mark the start of Shabbat as a special occasion. We honor our heritage and feel proud to continue the traditions of the Jewish people.

As the sky grows dark, we:

Light candles and say blessings.

Drink the fruit of the vine (in our case, lots and lots of grape juice).

Say a blessing for the children and give them an extra kiss on the forehead, and

Break off pieces of sweet and delicious challah for each member of our family to eat.

But we also tailor our celebration to fit our unique family, namely a mother who can’t seem to bake a light and airy challah. My home-baked challah is braided with love and filled with a mother’s goodness, but it is also uncomfortably doorstop-like.

I have taken challah-baking class, twice, to learn the art of making fluffy challah. I have tested the temperature of the water on my wrist to see if it will activate the yeast. I have warmed the dough in an oven to help it rise. I have tried recipes in Jewish cookbooks, off the internet, handed out at my children’s camp.

And, still, no matter what, my challahs remain leaden.

So, to save their mother the disappointment that comes from taking a hockey puck out of the oven, and to save my family the chipped teeth that come from eating their mother’s challah, we have adopted a different tradition.

We enjoy the challah from our local bakery. Sweet, braided, light and fluffy. Like no challah I could ever bake.

For your family, I encourage you to explore your own traditions to create a meaningful Shabbat. It is this sense that I hope to convey in Shabbat Is Coming.

No matter how your family chooses to celebrate this joyous day, I hope that you savor the anticipation of preparing for Shabbat every week. May you and your children have fun reading about and celebrating this day.

Shabbat Shalom!
Learn more about Tracy and her books on her website, tracynewmanbooks.com
 
 
 

 

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