Shabbat Shalom
Shof'tim| 7 Elul 5775
Deuteronomy 16:18-18:5 | Isaiah 51:12-52:12 
This Shabbat, Andy Montgomery shares 
Perfecting Shabbat

One of my first experiences of Shabbat was being asked to lift the Torah scroll during Shabbat morning services. This was somewhat awkward since I was not Jewish at the time, so I politely declined. I would have had no idea how to lift the scroll since this was the first service I had attended. But it always struck me how important it was to that congregation to try to include a newcomer into their midst.

My feelings towards Shabbat have grown so that I feel unbalanced if I do not get my Shabbat fix.

If everything goes according to plan, then Thursday night the kitchen is clean and the tablecloth and napkins have been washed and are ready to be set out the next day. There is a plan for a meal instead of just pulling something together at the last minute or leftovers. The kids help set the table and the meal is a family event. We light candles, bless the kids, say Kiddush, wash, and then unveil the challah. We have a lovely meal and a special dessert and maybe even say Birkat Hamazon. On Shabbat morning, we would arrive early in the service and be able to share our thoughts with the community and each other after services. Then we have a nice quiet afternoon.

For a long time I had no point of reference on how difficult a task it is to prepare for Shabbat since I was not born into a Jewish family. I did not understand all the effort and planning that needs to go into creating Shabbat. And I might even be deluding myself that it is possible to have my idea of a perfect Shabbat.

However, on most weeks we come pretty close to the mark. And if creating Shabbat were easy to achieve then I would not appreciate it as much. The process of perfecting Shabbat a little at a time has made me more and more conscious of the importance I place on it.

I have gone from not knowing how to lift a Torah, to helping nervous students the first time that they lift a Torah. Friday nights have gone from an ordinary night to a special night that I look forward to each week. And it all started with a welcoming community that encouraged me to participate years ago, and a community now that continues to help me to work on perfecting the day of the week that has had such an impact on me.

ANDY MONTGOMERY has been a middle school teacher for over fifteen years.  He looks forward to challah french toast and a shabbat nap every week.  Most Saturday mornings he attends Kahal services with his wife, Shelli Patt, and sons, Josh and Roni. 
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, August 21
6:30 p.m. (5:45 p.m. reception) Kabbalat Shabbat in the Sanctuary. D'var Torah by Rabbi Niles Goldstein.

Saturday, August 22
9:30 a.m.  Kahal in the Weiner Room with Torah Reader Nisan Chavkin and Torah Discussion Leader Stacey Robinson
9:30 a.m. Shabbat Minyan in Room 208.
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