As Friday Turns Into Shabbat

I was approached awhile ago by a reporter who wanted me to write a bit for her website. The website is very left-wing/liberal, (animal rights, feminism, gay rights, social justice – you know the buzzwords) so I was a bit wary, but I decided to go for it anyway. She wanted me to write about my daily life – and not from a political perspective. She interviewed me a bit and wrote an introduction to my piece. The following is what I wrote for her:

Friday Is A Short Day

 I wake up Friday morning with my mind on the long list of things to do that day. The Sabbath comes in early in the winter months, so I need to finish my preparations by 4:30 in the afternoon. Candlelighting time – 18 minutes before sunset – is the final deadline – no extensions allowed.

As I progress with my cooking, I realize that I forgot to pick up an important ingredient on my way home from work the previous day. The local makolet (mom and pop store) doesn’t carry it, so I decide to make the twenty minute trip to the nearest large grocery store. Grabbing the car keys and my cell phone I head out.

I live in Israel in the southeast part of what is called Samaria (we use the Biblical name Shomron) in a Jewish village nestled in the first ridge of mountains directly east of Tel-Aviv. The day is clear, and as I glance at the view before I start the car I can see all of the way to the coast, including the Azrieli buildings and the ocean beyond.

Arriving at the Mega supermarket I notice a short line at the entrance. A man wearing a knitted skullcap in front of me is asked by the security guard if he is carrying weapons. He shakes his head and the guard passes a wand over his body and then lets him through. When he gets to me the guard looks into my bag, and cups it from underneath to check the weight, and I think to myself for the hundredth time that I really need to clean it out. Satisfied that I too do not pose a threat, he waves me in.

Making my way through the crowded supermarket, I pass both Jewish and Arab shoppers, most with children in tow. Finding what I need I head to the checkout line. and start to chat with the woman ahead of me, discussing the prices of various products here and what we are preparing for the Sabbath meals. Dressed in tight jeans and a revealing blouse, she is obviously not Orthodox, but in Israel the Sabbath belongs to all Jews. I glance at the Arab woman who is ringing up the purchases, and notice that she is wearing a salwar kameez. My scarf covers my hair, and hers covers her hair and neck, but for all intents and purposes we are dressed very similarly. It reminds me of my trip to the mall recently, where I saw a beautifully dressed Arab woman wearing a gorgeous headscarf. In an alternate universe I would have come up to her to ask her where she had bought it. In today’s reality I shrugged off the opportunity, not knowing how my request would be received.

I head back, enjoying the scenery. My heart always lifts at the sight of the hills outside my window as I travel up the mountain road. For thousands of years the Jews have been wandering the globe, and I feel grateful to have been born in a time when we can make our home in the land that G-d promised us in the Bible. I also feel privileged that I can add to Israel’s security by living where I do. I shudder to think of what might happen if terrorists with rockets used our vantage point as a launching pad. The people in Tel Aviv would then suffer what the people in Sderot do now.

Back at home I rush to continue my cooking. One son comes home from dormitory high school, and drops his bag filled with dirty laundry onto the stone floor. After kissing me hello he rummages through the kitchen to see what he can grab to fill his perpetually empty teenage stomach. I remind him that it is his turn to wash the kitchen floor this week. Groaning through a mouthful of brownie, he catches my eye and nods reluctantly.

The other kids come home from school, and start their preparations. The rest of the afternoon’s chores get done in a frenzy – the clock is unmerciful. I just have enough time to shower quickly and put on fresh clothes before it is time for my husband and sons to go to the synagogue, and for me to light the Sabbath candles. Sighing contentedly I go outside to enjoy the sunset and to watch the little ones playing.

 Since it is the Sabbath the children play not only in the yard and the sidewalk but in the street as well, until the familiar roar of an approaching IDF jeep signals them to scamper to the side. Jewish law prohibits driving on the Sabbath – except in cases of danger to life. Army patrols are considered necessary for our safety, and are permitted. The drivers know that the children play on the road, so they drive slowly.

As the sky turns black and the stars come out the Friday night services come to a close. My husband and sons return from the synagogue with an expected guest. My son’s best friend will join us for the festive evening meal.

There is a tradition in many families to bless the children before the Kiddush (benediction on the wine) is said at the meal. As my husband tenderly places his hands on my eldest son’s head and recites the words, I catch sight of our guest and it hits me. This boy’s father was killed a number of years ago by an Arab terrorist. The ritual being performed now is something he will always miss and I feel a wave of sorrow for him. Then I remember what my son told me recently. His friend had confided in him that he wanted people to treat him normally, and not like the poor kid whose father was killed by a terrorist. I push down the sadness as much as I can, but I am sure my smile looks forced. After the children are blessed and the Kiddush is said, we enjoy the good food and conversation into the evening.

Another Friday has turned into the Sabbath.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Batya
    Jan 03, 2011 @ 18:09:12

    Lovely post.
    Shavua Tov

  2. VeredRoyz
    Jan 03, 2011 @ 23:09:31

    BS”D

    It was a lovely article. Thank you for sharing! You are a good writer!

  3. westbankmama
    Jan 07, 2011 @ 10:20:09

    Thank you both!

  4. Romeu Monteiro
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 00:48:11

    Hi!

    I loved your article and I want to thank you for accepting the challenge to write for that website, even though you probably have felt a lot of prejudice coming from the people that usually read and write it.

    I generally define myself as center/center-left and I do a lot of volunteer work for organizations working on gay rights, so one could say that most of those buzzwords are subjects which I feel close to. Still, I prefer not be prejudiced and, even though I live in a country (Portugal) mostly hostile towards Israel and Zionism, I seach for my own information and I am a fan of Israel and a supporter of Zionism. It’s tough to go against the majority of people, to break the dogmas and misconceptions and get information about “the other side”, but it’s very important to do that, and the fact that you wrote this text for a liberal/left-wing audience will help to achieve that goal for a lot of people.

    Last summer, while at the our yearly gay youth camp, several of my LGBT friends got together to offer me the book “Israel: A History” from Martin Gilbert. One girl from the direction board of our LGBT youth association told me “I also am on the side of Israel, but please don’t tell anyone.”. After noticing how unconfortable she felt that she couldn’t even voice her opinion, I became more vocal in defending Israel and realized that it’s not only me: a lot of people, even left-wing and gay people, do appreciate Israel and support it, they just won’t say it out loud so they won’t be harassed by prejudiced fundamentalist people.

    So, please, keep writing for us and don’t loose hope. Not all of us are prejudiced, and we do need a lot of help to make left-wing people support Israel as we already do, and also to make Europeans in general less hostile towards your amazing country.

    Take care,

    Romeu

    P.S.: I have to say I love the human way in which you write your texts. I would think israeli people living in the West Bank would be very conservative and even racist towards the Arabs. Thanks for showing me that’s not true and for giving a human face to the settlers.

  5. westbankmama
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 10:34:33

    Romeu – thank you for your comment. Giving a human face to the “settlers” is exactly why I started my blog. It is nice to be appreciated for it.

  6. Lynda Renham-Cook
    Jan 16, 2011 @ 22:30:01

    I am the writer of the piece mentioned above. It was not for my website, it was for an onine magazine called the scavenger and if anyone has reservations as you seem to have done we would request you not agree to take part rather than slag the magazine and then praise what you have done. In fact, all of the above comments show you all to be racist and you do no justice to Israel. The fact that you all had to comment about someones sexuality shows your ignorance. The magazine gave an opportunity for two sides to show a story and all you did was show the ignorant face of the Jewish settler to the point that more articles are being written to support the Palestinians. I am sure you will delete this post but I wrote the piece which you CONTRIUBTED to. Drop your arrogance.

  7. Romeu Monteiro
    Jan 16, 2011 @ 23:01:39

    Lynda, did you really read all the comments and understood them?

    Nowhere does the author slag the magazine, it just describes the political stance it defends, which we all know is for audiences greatly hostile towards Israel and much more towards the settlers.

    And where do you find racism? Is it so strange to you that LGBT people are mostly left-wing and, almost consequently, anti-Israel? Take a look around yourself, it’s the reality! And there’s no racism or homophobia that you can shout at us that can wipe away the real world. Even I am gay, should I refrain from talking about my sexuality or what I see and know from other LGBT people just to appease your own ideologies?

    I don’t intend to make justice to Israel: I am not Israeli, I’m not even a jew, and I haven’t any kind of connection to Israel. So please, before shouting “Racism!”, stop and think what it means when you judge an entire country based on what 2 or 3 people say about it.

    And how nice it is that your magazine “gave an opportunity for two sides to show a story”! Should we clap the generous atitude? Shouldn’t all stories have to sides, and not just one? Please, Lynda, that is some plain stupid argument…

    I would really like to know how did this “settler” showed her ignorant face, since all she did was write her own daily story based on facts and feelings. Did she write any lie? Please, enlighten us.

    You should be thankful for someone writing for your articles! Not insulting them!
    The arrogance comes from yourself only, and we all have seen what kind of person you are.
    Please, contiue your fight of good vs evil, when you defeat all your demons come talk to us.

  8. westbankmama
    Jan 17, 2011 @ 17:33:51

    Lynda – Your unhinged comment is exactly why I had reservations about writing for you. Romeu has answered you pretty well about “slagging” the magazine (why is it that calling you left wing/liberal is an insult?)the “racism” (what racism?), so I won’t repeat his arguments. But I am completely confused about your statement about commenting on someone’s sexuality. Where did I, or the others, do that? Where did I show “the ignorant face of a settler”? Your sensitivity about who exactly wrote the piece that appears in the Scavenger is somewhat surprising to me, as 95% percent of it was your cutting and pasting what I wrote to you in my email to you. You wrote about three paragraphs – the rest was mine.

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