Havdalah Neophyte: Being Jewish Keeps Me on Learning Curve


I’m a havdalah neophyte. Until well into my 30s, I had no clue what havdalah was. Judaism, unbeknownst to me, had an ancient ritual to mark Sabbath’s end.

Why write about this ancient ritual now? For the first time on Saturday night, I experienced the beauty and simplicity of havdalah in my own home. It was not planned. We had our temple’s cantor, her husband, and 4-year-old over for dinner, and the idea slipped out of my mouth as the sky began to darken.

Author Shulevitz Chats about Jewish Journey, Sabbath Obsession


Making Shabbat a part of modern life is a juggling act for many Jewish families – including my own. Author Judith Shulevitz, who I interviewed yesterday by phone, confesses to being a tad obsessed with the Sabbath. She, too, is conflicted over how far to go in observing Shabbat.

Her passion, fascination, and obsession with Shabbat resonate throughout her new book, The Sabbath World, Glimpses of a Different Order of Time. In her interview, she is candid about her callow views of her own faith as a teen and … Continue reading

Rabbi’s small tokens make big connection for toddler


All it took was some pocket change. In a brief moment, our rabbi connected to our 2-year-old this past Shabbat. Our toddler had no idea that tzedekah meant charity. But he loved it when our rabbi pulled out a handful of change from his pocket, and let Simon pick out coins and stick them into a tiny slit in the box. One by one.

Rabbi Howard Jaffe, a towering man with a booming voice, showed the softest of hearts. No words were exchanged. It did not matter. It’s all about … Continue reading

Teaching adults about Shabbat, Kashrut: Three rabbis share wisdom


Put three rabbis from different streams of Judaism on the same panel. Ask them to talk about keeping Shabbat and Kosher. They have fewer differences of opinion than one might expect.

The rabbinical trio of Lexington, MA spoke last week at Temple Emunah, a Conservative congregation, for the fifth annual Lexington rabbinical panel. The conversation about how to live as a Jew in the modern world was enlightening and for me, occasionally guilt-producing. I attend Friday night services sporadically. I mark holidays in a minimalist fashion.

Teaching tots about Shabbat: Don’t blow out the candles


Shabbat had little meaning to me as a child. My family never attended a Friday night service, lit candles, or bought challah, and my husband’s family did not either. Shabbat dinner? Neither my husband nor I attended one until we were grown-ups. Now, as parents, we want to make Shabbat a part of our 2-year-old son’s existence.