A Perfect Summer Shabbat

Lael Sanders

Some kids find their Jewishness in summer camp, by traveling to Israel or by going to shul. For me, this happened right in my hometown, one summer at Shabbat dinner for my savta’s (grandma’s) birthday.

One Friday in June, I went to my dodah’s (aunt’s) house. We went to my aunt’s for Shabbat dinner because it was my savta’s birthday. The smells of the melting candles and delicious food wafting from the house greeted me as I walked up to my dodah’s doorstep. When I walked into the house, everything looked extraordinary. As I looked around, I realized that my whole family was in one place.

I joyously greeted each of them with a warm embrace, and just as I was happy to see them, they were equally happy to see me too! Then it was time for the special dinner. We had golden fluffy challah, sweet grape juice, gefilte fish, creamy sweet potato pie and delicious matzoh ball soup. As we recited the blessings over the wine, challah, candles and of course the rest of the meal, we all sang in perfect unison. Then we began our feast. The food was exquisite.

After I ate, I went to play hide-and-seek with my sister and my cousin while the adults were debating about politics. The sounds of our laughter filled my cousin’s room as we scurried off to our hiding places. While I hid in the closet, I could hear the adults discussing how nice it was to be all together. I got lost in their conversation, and I realized just how right they were.

Before I knew it, it was time to go home. I didn’t want to leave under any circumstances, but it was getting late, and I was exhausted. On the car ride home, as I felt the summer breeze blow through the car window, I reflected on this incredible evening. I realized how lucky I was to be Jewish and to have the opportunity to celebrate Shabbat every week.

That summer, I learned that Shabbat dinner is not just about the food, wine and candles. It’s about spending time with your family and enjoying the special times in life. I had a great time at that dinner, and I hope that I have many more to come. I look forward to the day when I have my own family and will be able to carry on this tradition.

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Summer 2017