I've written a lot lately about my Fridays - about the preparation we do for the Sabbath here. I've tried to write about our Shabbat and what it means here as well. This Friday, I had more of an opportunity. My parents came to visit, bringing one of my mother's visiting students along.
This guest to our country is not Jewish and as I put out food, he looked around with curiosity and interest. He took a picture of two paintings I have in my home - one is an image of the exodus from Egypt - painted with the use of miniature letters. Using the Hebrew words from the entire book of Exodus (Shemot), the amazing artist created the scene of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. The Pillar of Fire in the background was created with the very words in the Bible describing this scene. The second painting is a view of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives - to create it, the artist (same man) used all of the words of the Book of Psalms (Lamentations).
Our guest also took a picture of the Sabbath candles waiting to be lit. I use oil and this week, 8 candles were ready to be lit near the window. It looked so pretty, so ready for Shabbat. I had prepared the challah dough late, late Thursday night so that it would be ready when they came. My mother said the blessing over separating the challah from the dough (you can learn about that custom here) and then I braided three loaves.
After we had a quick breakfast, I took my mother and guest and a short tour of Maale Adumim - explaining both Jewish customs and Maale Adumim. It is an interesting experience explaining your life to someone who asks simply because he wants to know and comes without preconceived thoughts. Israel remains an interesting combination of ancient and modern. In one short conversation, we spoke of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his sons, and the history of Israel from 1948 beyond 1967. We spoke of a mall and a bowling alley, the nearby Bedouins who live across the highway, and so much more.
They left a few hours before Shabbat, leaving me time to finish baking the rest of the challah and finish preparing. My husband brought beautiful flowers to our house, everyone showered, and we went off to synagogue services and dinner at my daughter's house.
We are gearing up for my daughter's bat mitzvah celebration this week...and I'm overwhelmed with things to do so I may fall silent a bit in the next few weeks. The week after the bat mitzvah (in which we will be serving/I will be making - 150 small pizzas, 6 quiches, 2 lasagnas, 3 cheese cakes, 1 huge birthday cake, several salads and more), I have a national conference (for which I have to make around 800 chocolate chip cookies) that we host and then it is full steam ahead for the wedding. Immediately after the wedding, just a bit over a week later, comes the holiday of Passover, a nightmare for most wives and mothers...I know that's a terrible way to describe a holiday. Maybe when it gets closer I'll remember the nice things...
In short, each Shabbat holds the only chance I'll get for the next few weeks to slow down, stop, and breathe.