Educationally Speaking – July-August 2017

Take Shabbat With You

Debi M. Rowe, MAJE, RJE, Director of Education and Programs

It’s July, soon to be August. We’re on trips, hosting visitors, or staying at home with summer school, summer camp, or projects around the house. Whatever the  scenario, we’re busy! Our schedules are different during the summer, and we may find ourselves in slightly unfamiliar territory.

So that’s when we especially need hold on to that which is familiar. I’d like to suggest that Shabbat is one of those familiar anchors that we can hold on to whatever our circumstances over the summer. My longtime friend and teacher, Joel Grishaver, wrote a book entitled 40 Things You Can Do to Save the Jewish People.

Chapter 4: “Always Remember Shabbat—Even when you don’t keep it.” It’s Friday afternoon and you have just checked into your hotel room at Disney World. It’s been a heck of a day: airports, luggage, rental cars, nudgey kids. You check into the hotel and hit the pool. It’s soon to be Friday night. Will you make it Erev Shabbat or Friday night? Joel suggests that even if you are a “Shabbat-making family,” this week with your kids chomping at the bit to go on the new Star Wars experience, you’re highly likely to take a vacation from Shabbat, too. You tell yourself: “After all, we’re spending quality family time together—God will forgive us.”

Instead, Grishaver suggests an alternative: while you’re unpacking, take the candlesticks and candles out of the suitcase [notice his assumption that you brought them along]. Gather around the dresser, light the candles, share a big sloppy family hug ‘n’ kiss, maybe sing a Shabbat song—and then go conquer Star Wars.

The big lesson here is that Judaism is always with us—we always take it with us when we go on vacation, and we never take a vacation from it. Supporting this contention, consider the two versions of the Ten Commandments in Torah. In Exodus we are taught: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” In Deuteronomy, “Keep the Sabbath day to have it holy.” So, it could be that even if you are not “keeping” all the rules of Shabbat, Shabbat can have a kind of holiness if it is always part of your consciousness.

So, this summer, take Shabbat with you wherever you go and whatever you do. Remember it and keep it, and let it keep you more connected to your family and more connected to those things that are important in your Jewish life. Shabbat Shalom!