Originally posted at http://www.lindakwertheimer.com/?p=185

 

No candles were lit. No kiddush was chanted. No challah was on a table. We marked none of the rituals, and yet last Friday night still felt a lot like Shabbat.

 

My family met a friend and her 4-year-old daughter for a picnic in downtown Lexington and to hear a free children’s music concert by Ben Rudnick & Friends. The original plan was to gather at another friend’s house for Shabbat dinner, but their child’s fever nixed that idea. We have been regularly trying to mark Shabbat at our house or at temple with our 2-year-old. Something about the alternative plan this past Friday night felt just right. Shabbat can be about more than ritual.

 

We scattered ourselves on a beach mat in a little park across from the Lexington Green. We shared hummus, carrot salad, cheese, crackers, and homemade bread. “Shabbat bread,” our 2-year-old Simon called it. He somehow knew that it was Friday night – and that on this night we eat special bread. The bread, made by my husband in our bread machine, was unbraided, but it did not matter. We were breaking bread with friends on this night. We were spending time together, unfettered by work and technology.

 

We danced with our toddlers in front of the band as it played an eclectic mix, including Skip to My Lou. Then, Simon proclaimed, “I need ice cream,” or as he likes to say, “ike-cream.” We did not have to exchange money for the treat: It’s provided free by a Turkey Hill ice cream/radio truck at the Friday night concerts. Simon and our friend’s daughter sat in their chairs, methodically spooning ice cream into their mouths and dripping. Then, the band started playing Havah Nagila. The adults grinned at each other. We at least could feel Jewish together on Shabbat. On this night, we found our own unique way of marking Shabbat.

 

Our son danced with abandon and pulled us around in circles with him. He stood in awe just a few feet away from the band and stared at the instruments and the people playing them. And he ate several pieces of Shabbat bread made partly by his father’s own hands. On many Friday nights in the future, we will light candles, eat challah, say the usual blessings, and sing. But this last Friday night may be the Shabbat we remember for years to come.