By Phyllis J. Lubin
“What is the next holiday?” Yosef has asked after every yom tov since Rosh Hashanah. Lately, we seem be reviewing the schedule of holidays on a daily basis.
This round of holidays has ended and we are all trying to get back into the swing of “normal” life. But how do we take the yom tov spirit and try to keep it going? How do we instill the heightened sense of spirituality from this past month and attempt to elevate our everyday lives to a higher plane?
As Simchas Torah came to a close at the start of Shabbos this past week, Yussie asked the “What is the next holiday?” question yet again. As I was about to respond “Chanukah” along with Yussie (after all, Yussie knows the schedule, but likes asking the question nonetheless), I realized that we are fortunate to celebrate a special holiday each and every week: Shabbos!
Fortunately, our family can experience a moving Shabbos davening at the Chabad of the Five Towns every Shabbos. The warmth of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Wolowik and the singing and smiling faces of the shulgoers add a special taste to Shabbos every week.
Yussie is a regular “junior chazzan” at shul every Shabbos (and every yom tov). He and a few of his friends lead the opening prayers of the services, and are back up at the podium to conclude the prayers as well. Although Yussie does not enunciate the words perfectly, his strong voice instills a special spirit to the services each week.
As soon as Shabbos ends each week, Yosef is already planning the menu for the following week. We are all supposed to spend our workweek planning for the spiritual respite of Shabbos, but, unlike our Yosef Binyamin, our lives sometimes get sidetracked and distracted.
A special movement was created a short time ago to try to bring Shabbos into everyone’s lives. It was started last year by Rabbi Ze’ev Warren Goldstein, the Chief Rabbi of South Africa, and was called The Shabbos Project. He wanted to get every South African Jew to keep one Shabbos. The event was so successful last year that the idea sprung forth in an aim to keep Shabbos on a more global level this year.
This coming Shabbos, Parashas Noach, will be the culmination of that dream. The International Shabbos Project will take place in more than 212 cities and 33 countries around the globe. “By experiencing the magic of Shabbat just once, we can rejuvenate family and community life, restore Jewish pride and identity, and build Jewish unity across the world!” (www.theshabbosproject.org).
A number of years ago, on the Shabbos following Passover, my good friend Ruchie opened my eyes to the beauty of baking challah. That special week she explained to me the value of baking schlissel (key) challah after a week of abstaining from bread over the Passover holiday. That special challah-baking opened my eyes to the beauty of having fresh-baked bread for Shabbos every week. So no matter how tired or exhausted I am, each Friday morning my family knows that they can find me in the kitchen mixing my dough. In fact, we try to share the challah-baking proceeds with my parents and in-laws on most Friday afternoons. Yosef is crestfallen when he doesn’t get to be involved with the challah deliveries.
This week’s special Shabbos will begin this Thursday evening, October 23, from 7:30 until 9:30 at the Sands of Atlantic Beach with the Great Challah Bake of the Five Towns: perhaps a thousand women ages 12 to 120 will be joining together to learn the spiritually uplifting feeling of mixing and kneading challah dough.
“Challah is a taste of Olam HaBa, the connection between heaven and earth. Through this event, we hope to bring a taste of Olam HaBa to unaffiliated Jews and increase the connection between all of us as we work together to enhance our commitment to G‑d and the mitzvos,” said Mrs. Sima Gefen, co-coordinator of the Five Towns Great Challah Bake.
I plan on attending this exciting event along with my eldest and youngest daughters, and hopefully my mom too—three generations experiencing the mitzvah of challah along with hundreds more women!
Shabbos will be celebrated all over the world in different ways. Some communities are inviting people into their homes who have never been fortunate enough to celebrate Shabbos appropriately, while some other communities (like the Chabad of the Five Towns, www.chabadfivetowns.com) are hosting newbies to Shabbos with meals at their shul.
Here in the Five Towns, the Shabbos will culminate with a Havdalah service and Maccabeats concert at Congregation Beth Sholom in Lawrence.
No matter how you participate this week, please try to spread the word about the Shabbos Project, and follow the “Manifesto”:
1. Together we will keep the Shabbat of 24–25 October from sundown to stars out.
2. We will keep it in its entirety, in all of its halachic detail and splendor, as it has been kept throughout the ages.
3. Its rhythm will unite us with each other, with Jews around the world and throughout the ages.
4. On this day we will create a warm and loving space, holding our families together.
5. On this day we will lay down the burdens, distractions, demands, and pressures of daily life.
6. On this day we will renew ourselves, emerging spiritually, emotionally and physically invigorated.
7. On this day we will own our precious heritage, wearing it as a badge of pride and honor.
8. Together we embark on this great adventure to rediscover our G-d-given gift of Shabbat.
This special upcoming Shabbos reminds me of Mordechai Ben David’s classic song, “Just One Shabbos!” I remember the chorus:
Just one Shabbos and we’ll all be free
Just one Shabbos come and join with me
We’ll sing and dance through the sky
With our spirits so high
We’ll show them all it’s true
Let them come and join us too!
So please come join and celebrate this special Shabbos Project!
Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children—Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea—and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at MothersMusings@gmail.com.