Thursday, April 12, 2018

Finding The Off Switch: Four Reasons I Observe Shabbat

by Peter Himmelman 
With the pace of technology and its demand for our attention increasing month-to-month, comes the challenge of occasionally leaving it behind. I’ve found some answers in my over thirty-year observance of Shabbat, (the Jewish Sabbath), a time when the use of technology is prohibited. While I don’t believe that the strict tenets of this observance are appropriate for all people, I am strongly convinced that many of its ideas would be helpful if they were incorporated on some level.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Resist lighting the fires of bickering on Shabbat

One of the most beautiful and important aspects of Shabbat is that by its very nature it forces us to put aside our work, our electronic gadgets and our ultra-busy schedules, and focus on what is truly important — our relationships with both G-d and family.
The problem we so often face, however, is that it is precisely this aspect of Shabbat that can cause us so much grief. The opportunity to finally spend so many waking hours in such close proximity to one another can seem to result in nothing more than squabbles! So important is it for us to address this matter that the Torah in this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Vayakhel-Pikudei, discusses it front and center.

In just the third verse of the parsha the Torah states, “Do not ignite a fire in your dwellings on the day of Shabbat.” The Zohar, in a novel understanding of this verse, understands “fire” here to mean destructive arguments and bickering. Whereas water symbolizes a degree of calmness and serenity, as water merely takes the shape of its container, fire on the other hand is destructive, consuming its container, much like needless arguments can grow and destroy. Thus, the verse is warning us not to have destructive arguments with each other on Shabbat.

Friday, March 2, 2018

My Husband, the Shabbat King


At the end of the first exhausting week of work, I came home on Friday afternoon to a clean house, a delicious-smelling stew in the slow cooker, all the appropriate lights duct-taped for Shabbat and a table set for the two of us. A beautiful bouquet of flowers sat in the middle. As soon as I saw Danny, who was adjusting his tie in the mirror, getting ready to watch me light the candles, I hugged him and nearly cried. “You did it,” I whispered.

Friday, February 23, 2018

How the Shabbat Dinner is Becoming Trendy

How the Shabbat Dinner is Becoming Trendy

Shabbat, that traditionally religious, meditative bookend of the working week, seems to be undergoing something of a renaissance.
“The concept of spending quality time with friends and family while taking a break from scrolling on Instagram—is for everyone,” Ariel Okin wrote in a 2017 Vogue article, ‘How To Host A Shabbat Dinner And Why You Should – Even If You Aren’t Celebrating’. “It is an ancient antidote to our modern ailments.”

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Jewish seniors fight isolation with a fast food community in ‘Wendy’s Shabbat’

Forget gefilte fish, roast chicken and brisket. Burgers, French fries and chicken nuggets are the preferred fare of senior citizens in Palm Springs, California. They gather on Friday evenings to welcome the Jewish Sabbath at their local Wendy’s fast food franchise.

Instead of staying by their lonesomes in their homes in the Sun City retirement community, the seniors head to Wendy’s, bringing along candles, challah and grape juice. Seated at a long table set up for them by the young staff, they recite the traditional blessings welcoming Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath. Then they tuck into their chili and chicken wraps and schmooze for a couple of hours.

Friday, January 19, 2018

2018: Let’s Get Back a Shabbat
Once upon a time people worked during the week and rested on the weekend. Most businesses closed. Holidays were dedicated to worship, family, friends, and, for some, culture. Sociologists, especially communitarians like myself, saw a great importance in maintaining a work- and commerce-free space. They pointed out that during the week we stray from the moral codes and values that guide our lives. We are trying to get work done, make deals, move ahead. These activities tempt us to cut corners, to put self-interest above concern for others and the common good. Weekends and holidays are supposed to be the occasions when we rededicate ourselves to what is right, and when we reconnect with each other as full-fledged human beings rather than as dealmakers or bosses and employees—an essential element of human flourishing. This is what happens in places of worship, family gatherings, and community activities.