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Returning to Shabbat

by Nanci Levy | Jun 13, 2018

Shabbat Photo - May 2018Every Friday evening at Handmaker, we bring in the light of Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath. We have a short service at 4:30pm in our Great Room, followed by a beautiful Shabbat meal at a long community table with challah bread from Nadine’s bakery, sweet Manischewitz wine, and Matzah Ball soup.

This Shabbat ritual is something that the 18-20 “regulars” look forward to every week. We even have a few regular guests. They are volunteers and family members who enjoy joining us, and we are so happy to welcome them to our table.

Some who attend the service and dinner do so because they have always done so. They grew up in a home with a special Shabbat evening meal every Friday night with family, friends and challah, and continued the tradition with their own families when they had them. And now, they are happy that they are able to still have the opportunity to have a special Shabbat meal every Friday night at Handmaker.  And they don’t have to cook it!

Some of those who attend remember having Shabbat dinners when they were growing up in their parents’ home, but perhaps were not so regular about continuing on that tradition in their own homes. They are grateful to return to a tradition that brings back fond memories, as well as much comfort and joy.

And there are also some who come who did not grow up with Shabbat meals, or have them regularly in their own homes, but somehow made their way to the Great Room one Friday night and enjoyed it so much that they have made it a part of their routine here at Handmaker

While most of those who join us at Shabbat are Jewish, not all are, and not all of our Jewish residents attend the service and meal. They are all invited when they first move in, or if they are visiting in one of the rehab neighborhoods, and continue to be invited. Some are interested and some, not so much. Sometimes, it takes a few weeks, or a few months before they decide that they want to try it, or longer. Sometimes they never do.

Recently, one of our residents who had been living at Handmaker for five years decided to join us. She had become friendly with another resident who liked to go regularly, and her friend talked her in to trying it. Sometimes peer pressure can be a good thing. Ruth said that she did not grow up going to services, or having Shabbat dinners, but she wanted to try it with her friend. She mentioned that she did not think that she would know any of the prayers or tunes, but she did not seem that concerned. I sat next to her, to make sure that she was comfortable, and to help her find her way in the Siddur, or prayer book. As the service got started, I thought that I heard her sing along softly to the blessing over the candles, but I could not be sure. She seemed to hum along to some of the other prayers, and then sang the Shema loud and clear. Interesting, I thought. Somewhere along the way she learned these prayers, she just does not remember that she did. I did not ask her, I did not want to put her on the spot, but it was beautiful to see and hear memories awakened in her that she did not know she had. Needless to say, she has now become a regular.

We love to have guests at our Shabbat dinners as well. If you are interested in joining us, please contact Nanci Levy at 322-3632 or nlevy@handmaker.org to make arrangements.

We also have Shabbat services every Saturday morning at 9:30am. No reservations are necessary for the Shabbat morning service, just show up in the Great Room any Saturday morning!