Judaism is rich with tradition as Tevya sings in Fiddler on the Roof. An important aspect of that richness is teaching and passing down that tradition from generation to generation.
On Friday, January 26, the Palisades Jewish Early Childhood Center (PJECC) held its annual Shabbat dinner. All the children at the school and their families were invited to join in the yearly ceremony.
PJECC has a unique way of teaching these important traditions. The recent unit on Shabbat is a good example. Each child created his or her own special Shabbat box, which included a kiddush cup for the wine, candles, a Challah cover and a card with the necessary blessings. As a culmination of that unit, the early childhood students brought their parents to show them what they had learned.
Perhaps passersby could feel the joy emanating from the shul on Sunset and Monument at the Chabad Jewish Community Center where this tradition was being observed. As the sun descended the horizon, the young children with their parents stood waiting and one by one, they lit a candle and said a particular blessing that begins this special time. Candles have ushered the holiness of the Sabbath into Jewish homes for thousand of years – ever since the matriarch, Sarah, illuminated her tent with light on Friday nights.
The height of this special time is the Shabbat meal. To begin, a special blessing (brocha) was said over the wine (and grape juice), led by Rabbi and Mrs. Zushe Cunin. Hands were washed and then the blessing was said over the Challah (braided bread, made just for the occasion) beginning the many course dinner. Teaching continued as the children learned about how to rest, and more about the uniqueness of Shabbat and the important impact its observation can have on family life. Dinner ended with lots of singing of many Jewish songs that the children had learned.
Barbara Leibovic, Early Childhood Director, really looks forward to the annual Shabbat dinner. “It embraces not only our curriculum on Shabbat, but the partnership of the school, the home and the community,” said Leibovic.
And from that special “Shabbat box,” these children can enter into the world of Shabbat. They will remember how they participated in a fulfilling and joyous Shabbat experience the way it has been observed for millennia and how to appreciate the many blessings in their lives. This way the tradition endures for this young generation until they grow into their own families and pass it on once again.