Babies and Blessings Brings Shabbat

Marking time becomes a challenge as we stay at home, month after month. Life is both slower and faster. Those who can work from home, […]

Marking time becomes a challenge as we stay at home, month after month. Life is both slower and faster. Those who can work from home, and feel blessed to be able to do so, find it is difficult to say where work begins and home ends. Routines help us feel the rhythms of time passing in this new normal–daily, weekly, monthly. Judaism provides a structure for time which we can rely on. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel referred to an “architecture of time” in his book, The Sabbath, Its Meaning For Modern Man. Indeed, when we carve out space in time to observe Shabbat, it transforms the rest of the week.

The weekly rest of Shabbat can be challenging to achieve in normal times, and even more so now that “everything” happens at home. The sameness of one day to the next blurs distinctions between Monday, Tuesday, and so on. Two years ago I wrote about Babies & Blessings, a monthly 3rd- Friday Night Kabbalat Shabbat service for babies and their loved ones. I described its growth from an idea to a fixture of the CBJ calendar, beloved by many families. Shortly after shelter-in-place, Babies & Blessings became a weekly event. Upbeat and fun start to Shabbat, comprised of the 3 Erev Shabbat blessings: for candles, wine/juice and bread. After a quick hello, we jump right in, assisted by my stuffed animal helpers.

As the weeks and months have gone by, what felt so necessary once a month has become an anchor for the week. Come 5:00 on Friday, the zoom session is open and friends are assembling.  In addition to the regular attendees, slightly older children zoom in, as do grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends, to share this special time. It’s also a place for far flung relatives to see one another.. Rachel Sackman Allen, her husband Tyler and daughter, Mikaela are regulars. Rachel writes, “…it’s now become our main marker that time is passing, and my parents have been joining, too. The silver lining of all this is that we’re home to actually sit down together and observe Shabbat, and Mikaela loves it (I love it, too). I heard Tyler reading her one of the PJ Library Shabbat books and she was singing the blessings for the candles. It was so beautiful.” You’ll find the link to Babies & Blessings in the weekly Shabbat Shalom email.

I hope that CBJ has given you an anchor in time. For a start, we observe Shabbat, regulating the rhythm of the week with Friday night and Saturday morning services, and Havdalah at its close. Sunday Torah study with Rabbi Ezray, and weekday Shema with Rabbi Ilana, and Tefillah with Bill, bring daily mindfulness. The classes on offer through religious school and adult education bring growth and engagement to this unusual period of time. If you are not sure what will be the best fit for you, I encourage you to try something you have not done before. It may become a part of your regular routine, and structure for the week. I’d love to hear about it.