We have found a way of life that works.
We have 3300 years of testing under every possible social, economic, political and geographical condition to prove that.
Yes, you could do it yourself—test all the possible styles of life, make comparisons and come to your own conclusions. But what a waste of precious time it will be, for yourself and for the world that could be benefiting from you. After all, how much life will you have left after reaching your conclusions? – Chabad
This “Thought for the Day” from Chabad is certainly an interesting way to make the case that deciding to accept a Jewish life will lead to more time to live a fuller life. The same could be said for many other faiths, I know, but I especially liked the point that Judaism has already been tested – for more than 3300 years, no less.
For me, Judaism has proven to be the best vessel for a set of beliefs and practices that resonate with me. I hope whatever journey you are on and whatever faith ultimately resonates with you, you will be equally content.
Passover is nearly over. The matzoh balls were what they were. My kids are used to it. It’s sort of the family joke. Why? Because I’m a fairly competent cook – except for when I’m not.
Spring break is over for my oldest and winding down for the youngest two. The house will be quiet with them both in school all day again. Still, the routine makes me appreciate the moments of special time we create and fit into the cracks between school, homework, work, and sleep.
For Shabbat this evening we’ll talk about the Book of Job. I’m interested to hear what my kids have to say on the subject. I’m usually amazed at what they bring to the table. If that’s a no-go, we’ll discuss the Torah portion for this week or use the guide from Family Shabbat Torah Talk. Either way we’ll have some quiet family time.
You want to talk Torah at Shabbat dinner but you’re not sure where to start? The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) has a site with everything you need to get you started and keep you going. Family Shabbat Table Talk has all the portions with comments, possible questions, and materials for additional study. (On their site, click on the name of the book of the Torah in the sidebar on the left to see the portions.) It’s an easy way to get you started.
The site says, “For each week, Family Shabbat Table Talk includes: 1] the title of the parasha and a citation so that you may find the full text in your own copy of the Torah; 2] a couple of sentences about the theme for the sefer; 3] an excerpt from the Torah text that will be the focus of discussion; 4] a short d’rash (teaching) on the text; 5] two or three questions each for children ages 3-5 and children ages 6-8; and 6] a suggestion for deeper study geared toward sophisticated learners and those who wish to spend more time on the topic.”
There are also tips for leading the discussion each week.
I’ve used this with my own children. At first it seemed a bit awkward, but they soon got the idea that we would be talking about Torah at dinner. Once they took to it, it was fun. It was definitely worth the small amount of effort it took to get it all started.
Passover is nearly here. I’m deep into my annual matzoh ball dread. No matter what I do, my matzoh balls are heavy as lead. I have these dreams of puffy clouds floating on the surface of my marvelous broth. I have the reality of matzoh balls that sink like rocks. I’m begging you. If you have some matzoh ball tips, please share with the rest of us – or at the very least with me!
For Shabbat this evening we’ll finalize our plans for our family seder. I want to make it special this year. The kids are all definitely old enough to have an opinion and lend a hand. I think it could be fun. I have a book, Jewish Holiday Style, to get us started. After that, I’m sure the kids will have some great ideas of their own.
Passover begins in a little more than a week.It’s time to think start your preparations in earnest.
Tonight we’ll plan what we’re having for our Seder. We’ll get out the dishes we use for Passover and made sure our dining room is ready.
We’ll decide who is helping with what prep for the holiday, as well as who we will invite to join us.
At dinner this evening, we’ll also decide which siddur to use. Now that everyone is older, we can use one without crayons!
Spring break is coming up for my college son! It will be good to have him home. He’s not quite into the “Jewish thing” as he calls it. It seems he’s decided to observe the phases of the moon. No. I kid you not. While he’s here, he’ll augment his moon gazing with some Jewish tradition.
Passover is coming up. There’s plenty to do to prepare. It would be nice if everyone were here for the entire holiday, but college-boy will return for at least one Seder.
For Shabbat this evening we’ll discuss what it means to create family traditions. How do we decide which to keep? How do we decide what to do? Why is it important?
It’s hard to believe another week has flown by. In fact, another month has flown by – at least by the secular calendar. I’m ready for one of two things: a really big snowstorm or an early spring. This cold weather without snow is getting very old!
This week we’re going to vary our traditional Shabbat dinner and mix it up a bit. We’re going to have an Italian twist and serve ravioli instead of chicken. It’s one of the dinners I grew up with that works on Shabbat. We’ll have a salad and challah, too. For dessert? Ricotta with mini semi-sweet chocolate chips.
I promised a discussion topic each Shabbat. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought. For this week I’ve settled on a question that’s been a hot topic in our house the past few weeks as my 10th grade son prepared to give a speech in English class. Do you believe animal testing should be banned? Are there any circumstances where it should be allowed?
These are the things that no one has probably thought to tell you about celebrating Shabbat in the Reform movement. You’ll be glad to know them. Believe me.
- When you go to your first Shabbat dinner with a family with a family member who already is, or is studying to be a rabbi, do not feel mortified to discover there is more to Shabbat blessings and ritual than you ever dreamed. Also, do not let it upset you enough that you don’t celebrate Shabbat in your own home for several months.
Things you need to know to celebrate Shabbat in the Reform tradition:
- The Friday evening meal is traditionally chicken, noodles, vegetables, and challah. This book has plenty of recipes to get you started: The Taste of Shabbos
- Grape juice can be substituted for wine. Kedem is a brand of Kosher grape juice.
- Shabbat candles must be left to burn until they burn out by themselves.
- It’s traditional for the women to light the candles and recite the blessings. (You can start with the blessing for lighting candles, the blessing over the wine, and the Motsi until you’re ready for more.)
- It’s customary to break off a piece of the challah, rather than cutting a slice for each person.
Your Slip is Showing: Shabbat
Shabbat Blessings Over the Children
It used to feel strange that I was the one who wanted to celebrate Shabbat each week. After all, I was the one in the house who wasn’t Jewish. I hadn’t converted yet, so I was spared the witty remarks about the “zeal of the convert.” Still, at first I was hesitant to press the issue.
One day it occurred to me that not wanting to raise the kids in the faith I’d had as a child did not mean I wanted to raise them in a faith in name only. No way was I raising a bunch of secular Jews. I wanted them to have traditions and memories of family time that were associated with Judaism. Read more