Sunday, August 26, 2012

Back to the drawing board


I asked another beloved family to celebrate Shabbat with me this week, but ended up rescinding the invite because I had to work Friday afternoon. The stress involved in getting dinner together for guests after a day of work was definitely not what I had in mind when I decided to try celebrating the holiday.

Friends say that with family, you ask people to pitch in and help, reducing the pressure involved in getting dinner on the table. Yes, that works with family because they know where everything is and how things work in the kitchen. With guests, I could ask them to help but would then have to not only answer questions about the where's and how's, but also maneuver around them. That would be, for me, even more stressful than doing it all myself.

So here I sit, wondering how to proceed. I would like to celebrate Shabbat by spending time with people I love, feasting, toasting, and relaxing, but the pressure involved in doing all the work of preparation, every week, is discouraging. Last fall I hosted Thanksgiving dinner here at the chateau. It took me two days to prepare. It was a lot of fun, also exhausting. I wouldn't do it again.

Shabbat is a family centered holiday. I live alone, have no kids, no husband. I am a family of one, so how do I square my solitary life with this family based holiday?

I do not have an answer to that.

Though I did indeed enjoy Temple Micah's Friday night service, the temple itself is an impossible commute for those of us who live across town and don't have cars. By bus it is a very unpleasant hour each way. By subway it's even longer as the closest station is a half-hour walk from the temple. So that's not going to work for me.

I'm scratching my head, wondering, questioning - and I will admit - once again feeling like a freak in the religion of my ancestors. I flirted briefly with the idea of seeking a partner, but then realized that wanting a partner just so I could celebrate Shabbat is not the best reason to throw myself into the unsavory world of old folk dating. I mean really, do you ever really look at men of my age? I try not to!

In every way you can imagine, I enjoy being single. It suits me, except in terms of celebrating Shabbat.

It's an interesting conundrum that I will be chewing on for awhile. Perhaps this idea I had of celebrating the Sabbath should be respectfully placed in the round file as we used to say back in the day when we kept information on paper. I'm still thinking about it, but I'm not expecting to come up with a viable solution.

Judaism has always been an ill fit for me. And yet I yearn for it. It's so interesting. Shalom.



ellen abbott said...

it's a conundrum. especially in this modern life. back when these things started no one lived alone. especially not women. this being rooted in a culture that doesn't exist anymore is one of the reasons I don't care for any religion. there are things about being human that are timeless that religion is supposed to address I suppose, but it does it in a rigid unchanging way that eventually, for me anyway, divorces itself from the evolving human culture.

kbrow said...

I love your ambition, and hurling yourself into things in such a grand way! I've always been intrigued by Shabbat, even though I am Presbyterian-turned-Episcopalian-turned-Eclectic Pagan...the idea of a pause, a peaceful meal shared with loved ones at sunset on a Friday is so very beautiful.

I have tried, this past year, to just make sure I have something nice to eat on Friday evenings, have cleared off my dining room table (no mean feat, this) and lit candles. No huge effort of dinner if I'm not feeling it, but something lovely. And wine.

Failing that, I go out for pho, on the principle that if I can't get it together to feed myself, I need some healing, and pho is medicine.

Reya Mellicker said...

Ellen I love your brilliant mind, and yours too Kim.

I love pho. Maybe I'll take it in that direction.

Pam said...

Entertaining at home really is hard work, and can be expensive too. I've often wished for more family members to help, and have missed all my life having sisters who I imagined would be close and funny.
Most religions really do seem to be a product of their times don't they, with their fair share of wives and concubines thrown in for good measure. More to do the cooking, entertaining and fetching water from the well I suppose!

Steve Reed said...

On a purely practical level, maybe it would be worthwhile to explore other temples that are closer to you and more accessible. My grandmother used to be the organist at Temple Sinai in northwest Washington -- don't know what branch of Judaism it is or exactly where it is, but she always praised it.

I wouldn't start dating just to find a shabbat partner. Surely there are easier ways. :)