Shabbat Sh...are you religious or not?
Oh brother, I reallllllllly don’t like this question, nor do I know how to answer it.
It’s really difficult for me to put myself in a box. Was I raised religious? Sometimes!?
Let me explain. My parents wanted all of their (five) children to feel connected to Judaism, they tried to appeal to each of us by observing shabbos differently, on what felt like a weekly occurrence. Some weeks we were Shomeret Shabbat and some weeks not.
Inconsistency was consistent for me. And that was SUCH a blessing! It gave me the freedom to see Shabbos through colorful lenses! And truthfully, I believe that upbringing is what allowed me to fit so perfectly into my current (married life) family.
As a kid, we would have a beautiful shabbos dinner, with kiddush, the best food ever, (thanks mom!), zmirot and benching - and then (some weeks) we would watch tv together. We would only drive to shul or shabbos meals, and we wouldn’t do anything not related to shabbos. The “spirit” of shabbos was always in the air!
I LOVED shabbat and I loved going to shul.
I’m often asked the question now about whether or not our house is shomer shabbat and if our kids' mothers' house was shomeret shabbat.
My kids' upbringing was pretty much like mine. At Abba’s house they were shomer shabbat and at Mama’s - sometimes, (from what little I know about her house - honestly I’ll never really know)!
As a single adult, when it came to being shomeret shabbat, I was like a see-saw: some weeks yes, some weeks no.
Shabbos is meant to be a day filled with joy, surrounded by a supportive community. But, as a single woman, living in Jerusalem, sometimes shabbos felt lonely. And when loneliness crept in, I would want to watch a movie, or call a friend - to help me feel more connected.
For me, breaking shabbos would occur when I wasn’t feeling “connected” or relaxed. Watching tv would remind me of my childhood and spending shabbos watching tv or movies, feeling loved, connected, and relaxed; together with my family. That’s what I want to feel on shabbos!
Once I got married, I felt like I fit in, and I fit out!
All of a sudden, I was living a new life, figuring out marriage, learning how to be an “insta-mom” and observing shabbos! I chose to marry a man who is shomer mitzvot and shomer shabbos, because that’s the life I wanted to live…but at the beginning of our marriage - I was suddenly overwhelmed! My one day of rest was more stressful with six kids running around our 2.5 bedroom apartment than I could have imagined, and I started to resent taking SUCH a huge leap of faith!
BUT - this has become an opportunity for me to grow and connect. I work hard at connecting with my kids, and finding opportunities to welcome joy and rest into our home on shabbat. Reading on the couch, playing a board game or card games with my kids, or taking a nap have become NECESSITIES for me to enjoy the beautiful holy day. And most importantly, being part of a community, dedicated to “being a community,” is what makes being shomer shabbat a “way of life,” rather than just “something I’m commanded to do.”
We gave our kids the freedom to choose how they want to observe. Common areas are shomer shabbat. We even told our kids they could keep/use their phones in their room. (They refused to do so and continue to give them to us to put away for shabbos).
I truly believe that by giving our kids the freedom to choose empowered them to find their own (respective) freedoms on Shabbos. At the same time, since we actively try to connect with them, they look forward to that quality time together!
I am grateful my parents gave me the upbringing they did, otherwise I wouldn’t be the thriving mom I am today!
How do you spend your Shabbos? How were you raised?
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