By Susan Diamond
There’s a custom in the Diamond house, and it happens every Friday night. It’s something we take very seriously. You may know it as something we Jews are very good at – eating.
Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner started thirty years ago in our household. It always begins with candle lighting. Minutes before sundown, the women in our house gather to light candles – there’s a prayer for that, and we sing it.
On to mealtime. Always fresh-baked challah bread straight from the oven, always grape juice for me, always a Shabbat scotch for my husband, David. The rest of the food and drink varies.
Our beloved custom is filled with prayers and rituals to feed our souls. Delicious meals to feed our bodies. And good conversation to feed our minds. But it’s the people around the table that matter. It’s the love that’s truly nourishing.
When I think back on the people who graced our table in years past, I’m thinking of family members we love and loved ones we lost—friends who remain a part of our life and those who drifted away.
Mostly, I remember our noisy, not so well behaved children. I remember them as middle-schoolers, bringing home a friend for Shabbat dinner (Jewish or not). As high-schoolers with enormous appetites eating quickly so they can leave early to party. I remember the table thinning out as our four kids went off to college with less frequent visits home.
Now, it’s mostly me and David sitting at a big dining room table, just the two of us. And it’s good. Peaceful and quiet. Three of four adult children live out of town, so a Shabbat dinner together is rare and special. Thankfully, the one son who is the father of my teenage grandchildren lives nearby. They come sometimes, and they bring their friends. Second-gen Shabbat dinner guests. The tradition lives on.
We look forward to a post-pandemic Shabbat dinner table, which will once again be filled with family and friends. But until then, I simply give thanks to God for the Sabbath.