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Judaism at Home or Wherever You Find Yourself

07/31/2019 12:29:17 PM


Beth Schafer

In my previous congregation, we shared a space with a church for worship. What that meant on a week-to-week basis was that my family had to leave home very early to help “unpack the temple” and set up our shared space. My children from very young ages equated setting up chairs, projection and sound as their Shabbat ritual. One of the challenges that it posed to our family was that we couldn’t have Shabbat dinner at home, and most of the time couldn’t eat until after 8:30 pm at night. Because of our travel time, it would’ve been too late to feed our young children at home. So, we picked a restaurant close to the temple and ate there. Every week. 

What happened over time was really special. You see, our waiter began to expect us and the restaurant knew to seat us in his section. Week-in and week-out our waiter Jeremy became an important part of our Shabbat. When we brought friends he learned their names (and their drink orders). He made sure Sarah had her dinner quickly before she fell asleep at the table. He discussed Hannah’s math homework with her. As Jeremy put himself through college waiting dutifully on us and many others, we grew very fond of him. He and his partner came to Sarah’s Bat Mitzvah and gave her a check in a denomination of chai as a present. When it was time for Jeremy to graduate, it was apparent how much we grew to love each other. He did not want us to be uncared for, so he literally set us up with our next waiter who would continue to take care of us as he did. And we, along with many of the friends he had waited on over the years, pooled our money together and presented Jeremy with $540 as a graduation present.

I tell you this story because anything or anyone can make your Shabbat special. A person, a place, a type of food, a ritual. If you’re not able to make services here, you can make Shabbat wherever you are. In fact, the Spirituality Committee in concert with our clergy team want to help you create spiritual moments when you’re not in the building. We have created a page on our website called Judaism at Home. The idea is to help you get comfortable with rituals and making observances come alive in the comfort of your home or whatever environment in which you might find yourself. Our first offerings are available now. Video instructions on how to make Shabbat blessings, along with a resource sheet are available at

No matter how you choose to celebrate Shabbat, whether by coming to temple, spending time with special people, going somewhere regularly, or making the traditional blessings at home, Shabbat is truly what you decide to make it. And, as the year unfolds, look to the Judaism at Home page for more do-it-yourself rituals that will empower you to create a spiritual life of your own making.

Shabbat shalom,


Wed, February 19 2020 24 Sh'vat 5780