Tradition & Innovation
Powered By The Reconstructionist Movement

Candle-Lighting Reading

By Gila Gevirtz

The Shabbat of my youth is stored in memory as a series of romantic, magical, tableaus. My mother lighting candles in our candelabrum made of 1950's polished chrome; the family, dressed in Sabbath clothes, singing Shalom Aleichem (one verse almost always sung out of sequence); dad making kiddush, then passing the silver becher around so we each might sip from the syrupy sweet wine; and best of all, on Saturday when I was very young, the family "Shabbos Party" complete with charades, tea and parve cake. Among my many other memories of Shabbat are two that recall a magic beyond romance.

The first memory is of the air. Unlike its weekday counterpart, Shabbat air was suffused with a warm glow, a golden-yellow cast. Its presence was subtle yet unmistakable, and its affect on me was heady. The second magical occurrence was an extraordinary disengagement from the concerns of daily life. No matter how worried or anxious I might be for example, about my social life or an upcoming exam that worry could not touch me, could not call out to me on Shabbat. For twenty-four hours, one full day every seven days, uncertainty ... chaos ... tohu vavohu took a holiday.