Shabbat Shalom
Korach |3 Tammuz 5775
Num. 16:1-17:15 | Samuel 11:14-12:22
This Shabbat, Beth Emet shares 
Shabbat and the Fifth Grade

This Shabbat, we stand in solidarity with the victim's families and community in Charleston, South Carolina. Read more about this tragedy or send a prayer or message of support to Emanuel AME Church community.

"It's just special."


The common thread, running through the entire conversation - which was animated and engaging and lasted for thirty minutes (and for a fifth grader, on a Thursday afternoon, at the end of a long day at school, which just happens to be the last day of religious school as well - thirty minutes can be an eternity) - all the kids tumbled over one another, with a simple message: Shabbat is a special day.


A handful of years older than the G'dolim (Need a reminder of the four year olds? Read their thoughts on Shabbat here), and several handfuls younger than the adults who have shared their thoughts and reflections of Shabbat with our Beth Emet community for almost a year, their story is sweetly familiar.


"Everyone gets together."

"I spend time with my family. We say blessings."
"The food is amazing!"

"I don't have to go to practice. It's relaxing."


If there are some common threads that run through each of these essays, they are these: Family. Blessings. Food. Rest.


Not all the kids celebrate. Some talked of services and tot Shabbats. A few are now old enough to have experienced Shabbat at camp. "Ooooh! That's the best! We wear our nicest clothes on Shabbat!" "I love the song sessions. They are awesome!"

The special food changes from family to family. For some, it's steak; others, fish. "My mom cooks chicken for Shabbat," said one child, eyes closed and grinning at the thought. Most of them spoke quite enthusiastically of challah - with raisins or chocolate chips or honey or nothing at all - just sweet, braided bread to melt in your mouth and fill your belly. For one child, it was less about food (even the challah!) - "I don't celebrate that much, but when I do, we have sparkling grape juice!"


On Shabbat, there is time - for friends, for family, for doing a little bit of nothing. Or even, a little bit of something that is a little bit different - prayers (t'fillot), blessings. Services with family and a larger community. It is a gentle reminder that we live in a wider world, that we connect in a larger way, to family and loved ones and even God. The clock may start ticking loudly and insistently at the end of Shabbat, but for these timeless hours, we move at a different pace, one that is slower and quieter and just a little bit holier.


For thousands of years, we, as a people, have celebrated Shabbat in just these ways. We have taken these loose threads and woven them into an intricate and achingly beautiful tapestry that at once covers us and binds us and tells our story. God commands us, in Torah, to both guard and keep Shabbat - shamor v'zachor - and we lovingly sing that phrase every week, when we sing out L'cha Dodi as part of the Kabbalat Shabbat service.


The rabbis have taken millennia to argue and debate and dispute and study and

 aver just what that means. There have been tractates and commentary to give us guidance, to build a fence of protection and reverence around this holy and sacred day.


In the end, we can look at these essays, written on paper or with pixels, shouted out in excitement, or all those words and memories and experiences that remain etched in our hearts, unheard by any except perhaps God and the Angels who guide our steps as we return from services on Friday nights - whether we are four or ten or fifty or ninety (and every age in between) -


Shabbat is just special. It is family and food and rest and celebration. It is music and prayer. It is a gift of time, a slice of sacred in a crazy-busy week. It is the thread that binds our rich tapestry together: a million; a billion; an infinite amount of threads, and Shabbat weaves her gentle beauty through them all, to complete the story of us all.


Shabbat shalom from the Fifth Grade classes of Beth Emet.

Each Friday during 5775, we are featuring writings from you, our congregants, sharing reflections on Shabbat. We hope you will be inspired to share your reflections with the community. If you are interested in contributing to this project, please contact Stacey Zisook Robinson
This Shabbat at Beth Emet

Friday, June 12
6:30 p.m. (5:45 p.m. reception) Kabbalat Shabbat in the Sanctuary. Memorial plaque dedication for Miriam Zarefsky. 
Saturday, June 13
9:00 a.m.  Tot Shabbat at Noah's Playground (2611 Sheridan Road, Evanston)

9:30 a.m.  Shabbat Minyan in Room 208. 
9:45 a.m.  Kahal Shabbat in the Weiner Room with Torah Reader Tony Adler and Torah Discussion Leader Rabbi Toby Manewith

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