My Dream Shabbat?

My Dream Shabbat?

This Friday night was my perfect Friday night. We hosted a group of lovely tourists from Atlanta, non-Jews as well as Jews who’d never experienced a traditional Shabbat before. They came early enough for me to light Shabbat candles with them, and after we lit and said the blessing all together I told them “Shabbat is the holiest day of the week and you are now in the holiest city in the world, this is an auspicious time to pray for whatever you most want in your heart.” And we took a minute for silent prayer before we started the meal. For me, and I hope for them as well, it was amazing.
And on top of that, this week our dear friends were hosting a tourist group for us. It was a lot of work for me to oversee the food preparation and pack up everything to send to them, not to mention take care of the clean-up after, but it consistently brings me indescribable joy to know that through my hard work I’m enabling another family to experience their first traditional Shabbat. To share this moment of holiness with them. Exponential nachat.
And on top of that, after our group left, we reset the table and had a family meal. All but one of my kids was at the table, along with my dear Mother-in-Law, whom I adore, who is visiting from Canada. It was wonderful having (almost) everyone all together, which doesn’t happen as often as I would like.
And on top of that, today for Shabbat lunch we hosted a wonderful family of secular Israelis. I felt, again, the intense pleasure of knowing I’m living my yeud, my individual life’s purpose. Sharing Shabbat with people who otherwise wouldn’t experience it.
And then this evening I went on a walk, and I ran into my neighbor who asked me, “Hi Shavua tov! Did it feel empty here this Shabbat?”
“I didn’t notice it felt so empty. Why do you ask?”
“Because most of us were at the David Citadel Hotel. One of the companies that wants to knock down our houses and build high-rises treated all the home owners to an all expenses-paid Shabbat. Including our kids, there were around 500 of us there.”
“Seriously? I didn’t hear anything about it!”
And then I remembered that I had received a phone call from one of the several companies interested in buying our homes. Different companies have been offering various free perks to us homeowners in order to win our hearts (and homes). I told this company representative to please call Josh. And after speaking with my neighbor, I realized that Josh had either not answered his phone or had told her that we aren’t interested. Because we decided we aren’t participating in any of these events, since we’d rather not let a fancy dinner, or expense-paid Shabbat impact our decision-making skills, following the infamous example of Esau who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup.
But at that moment, seeing my friend all dressed up, after a Shabbat at a fancy hotel, definitely way fancier than any hotel my family has ever stayed at. At that moment, my Shabbat, which until a moment before had felt absolutely perfect, was suddenly completely worthless.
It took me a full hour to recover from my disappointment.
To remind myself that Brene Brown keeps a photo on her wall of the pool lane where she swims laps. This photo represents to her: Keep your eyes on YOUR lane. Your goals. Your priorities. Your successes. Not anybody else’s
Or in this case, keep my eyes on MY Shabbat. My goals. My priorities. My dreams. Even if my dream Shabbat looks different from my neighbor’s dream Shabbat, what’s important is my lane. And keeping my eyes firmly on it. Even, especially, at times when that is very hard to do.
Shavua tov!
Painting by Amy Gelfman


  1. Chana Jenny, your Shabbat was infinitely more worthwhile than a Shabbat in a fancy hotel.
    I hope you get Another Opportunity to be in a nice hotel for Shabbat, to rest and to feel the serenity of Shabbat, and not as a ‘bribe’ to sell your apartment.

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