Keeping the Faith

by Zehorit Heilicher, Tastemaker in Residence   

May the Lord bless you and protect you

May the Lord shine his countenance to you and be gracious to you

May the Lord lift his countenance to you and grant you peace

Numbers 6:24-26

We all have rituals that anchor us in our lives. Whether it is our favorite mug for our morning coffee, our usual route to work, favorite tie for important meetings, good luck earrings for a first date – we all have them. Some rituals however, are more ancient and are rooted in tradition or religion, like Sunday or Shabbat dinners, wedding toasts and baby blessings. These, more traditional rituals, create community, help us connect and mark an occasion, celebrate family.

Our family has had a Shabbat dinner throughout my four children’s childhood almost every Friday night. We have moved it early to accommodate high school homecoming games and we have moved it late to accommodate ballet class and Ultimate Frisbee Tournaments. But the structure remains the same: appetizers, followed by blessing the candles, then the children’s blessing followed by a blessing on the wine and last, blessing the Challah, all done before eating dinner can commence. That dinner and its rituals allowed us to mark the passing of another week, to mark the triumphs and the challenges of the past week and to note what the next week offers. It allowed us to take a moment and literally hold our children as we recited the priestly blessing and rejoice in our connection, a moment to be present in our family circle.

At this moment in time our children are spread through this vast country of ours: Seattle, San Francisco, Boulder and Kirksville, Missouri. We do not have the luxury of weekly dinners together anymore. However, one element still remains of that Shabbat tradition: the Priestly blessing. Every Friday night our kids can hear my voice blessing them with these familiar words, wherever they might have been throughout the world. I have blessed our daughter’s whole Ultimate Frisbee team away on tournaments, our son and his roommates in New York, our other daughter and her boyfriend and the love umbrella just keeps growing… On the other side of the phone stand our kids and the people they have invited into their lives and by extension into ours: Jews and non-Jews, multiple ethnicities and backgrounds – connected by the invisible phone lines and the bonds of parental love.

Of all the rituals in my life, this is one I hold dear and intend to nurture for as long as I possibly can. May you find rituals that provide you with comfort and a sense of belonging in this New Year. Happy 2019!