Friday, April 04, 2008

Sabbath for the Earth

See my works, how fine and excellent they are!
All that I have created, I have created for you.
Think upon this and do not corrupt and desolate My World,
For if you corrupt it, there is no one to repair it after you.
--Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28

Melinda over at Elements in Time, realizing how wonderful Earth Hour was for so many of us, has suggested we schedule it weekly. What an inspired idea!

For many years, my family celebrated Shabbat very regularly. We made our own challah, had a nice dinner, drank wine, said blessings over candles and over each other, and spent the evening enjoying one another's company. In some years, we carried our celebration of Shabbat into Saturday (which is, of course, the norm--Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, more or less)--but sometimes we just emphasized Friday evening.

This year, we've been trying to reconcile our connection to our Jewish heritage with our fundamentally secular beliefs about God. Taking the traditional blessings and making them meaningful in an egalitarian and non-religious way is not at all difficult--but at this point, the words don't yet have years of repetition to make us feel connected.

We have still been lighting candles on a lot of Friday evenings and we've been trying out various Humanist-Jewish "prayers," but it is kind of astonishing to me how many Fridays we haven't celebrated at all, in any way. It is something I miss tremendously--not only because of the cultural ritual, but because Shabbat is a time of intense recognition of our relationships with each other and with friends, a recognition that gets enacted at the altar of the table, every week.

When I read Melinda's proposal for the weekly Hour for the Planet, I realized that combining our environmental politics, our desire for authentic connection with others, and our Shabbat traditions could be exactly what we need.

So the lights will stay out, as they did for Earth Hour, from the time we light the candles until we go to bed. We'll turn off the computer. The table is set, dinner is made--including a really healthy vegan chocolate cake (whose recipe is forthcoming if it the cake is any good), and the candles are ready.

May this be a night of peace.


The Tell-Tale Heart said...

May we who make peace, make peace in the heavens, and bring peace to this family, to our community, and to the world.

Chocolate cake is certainly a great way to start!

Kelli said...

What a wonderful idea - a great way to refashion family and religious tradition in a way that makes sense to you, here in the present. I think we may try something similar. Thanks!

Leslie said...

What a delightful piece to read. I've been trying to get myself refocused on Shabbat as a time to recharge my batteries, connect with folks I love, stop and smell the roses. Reading this piece put a smile on my face and lots of great ideas in my head.

I hope you don't mind if I post a link to your blog from mine ( Please email me at tanama44 at aol if you'd prefer that I not.


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