Tuesday October 2, 2012
NON-TRADITIONAL SHABBAT: MAKING THE BEST OF WHAT YOU’VE GOT BEFORE YOU
No matter what your background may be or perhaps where you may be on a Friday night, love your neighbor and the whole world surrounding you and make your human Jewish experience the best it can be.
This past spring, my family and I went to Hawaii in celebration of my big milestone 40th birthday. Our time there was magical, and it was so easy to get lost in the lull of the ocean waves as the sun created a hypnotic glow over all of the ripples and tides. Suddenly, as we were taking in this scene and watching a hotel staff person running around and lighting tiki torches, I realized that it was Friday night, and it was the beginning of Shabbat. It seemed to me, as I was standing on that beach in Maui, that I was experiencing one of the holiest moments I had ever seen unfold before my eyes. I quickly gathered my kids and husband, and together, we welcomed in Shabbat by saying the candle blessing over the tiki torches. It may sound a little silly, but to me, it was an unforgettable moment and one that will remain sacred to my family.
Often, in our very busy lives, we find ourselves in a variety of unusual and non-traditional locales on Friday evenings. When we can, we love to be at home eating great food, listening to good music and following all of the sweet Shabbat rituals that we have created as a family. But more often than not, those evenings unfortunately become few and far between and seem to fall by the wayside.
We find ourselves at karate graduations and at football games. We find ourselves dropping off the kids for sleepovers or running to Costco to get in one last errand before the weekend. Even when I am at our Temple once a month to song lead at a Tot Shabbat service, my husband’s job demands that he works too late. So, we meet up afterwards for our Shabbat sushi dinner.
The fact is that my Jewish and non-Jewish worlds often collide, and as I sit here and reflect about this reality, I am reminded of a Neshama Carlebach concert I attended last winter. I am a Jew in a world that sometimes prevents me from celebrating my Judaism, but as I listened to this soulful songstress embrace her own Judaism and beliefs on stage, I was full of admiration and so moved as she performed her music with the Green Pastures Baptist Church Choir. She told the audience of how much even her father, the great Reb Shlomo Carlebach, was inspired and touched by Baptist church music.
To me, this collaboration was a great meeting of the minds of the one common belief in G-d. Neshama CarIebach successfully combined this religious gap, so why couldn’t I? I have learned that in this crazy mixed-up world that pulls me in every direction, sometimes you just have to make the best of what you’ve got before you. We live in a world that does not always embrace a Shabbat schedule, and therefore, I find it vital to take advantage of as many other Jewish opportunities that I can.
I am so fortunate that my family and I live in a moderate-sized city that has a thriving Jewish community. We are a tight-knit group in Tucson, AZ, and best of all, we are committed. We are committed to providing Jewish education and knowledge for each other, for those less fortunate and for the larger metro secular community. As a Jewish musician, I am happy and excited to say that even the Jewish arts are well respected. Besides Neshama Carlebach performing at our local Fox Theatre almost a year ago, over the next couple of months, I am delighted to be able to attend concerts by Rick Recht and the Maccabeats.
Because I am often torn from celebrating Judaism in the way that I wish to and grew up celebrating, I always want these opportunities to be available to me. I am so aware of how important it is to give Jewish events in my community my support. I attend as much as I can, and I try, with all my heart, to give my children a great Jewish upbringing, too.
As Neshama Carlebach sang her song “Return Again” at that magnificent concert last year, all voices on that stage came together in a message that overrode religious denomination, and the feeling in that room was clear. No matter what your background may be or perhaps where you may be on a Friday night, love your neighbor and the whole world surrounding you and make your human Jewish experience the best it can be.
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