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Reflections of Shabbat

By: Mitzi J. Levin

“Good Shabbos!”

With this phrase, Ilse Nathan’s family would begin the observance of Shabbat each Friday at sunset.

The observance of the Jewish Sabbath was one of the traditions Ilse and her family enjoyed before the Holocaust.

Tensions were high in Ilse’s village because of antisemitism, and often she was afraid to go outside. But Shabbat dinner brought feelings of safety and togetherness.

“I have such happy memories of this time,” Ilse says.  “Mother prepared delicious, special dishes for our Friday night dinner. Matzo ball soup and potato kugel were two of my favorites.

“With her head covered, she began with lighting the candles and praying. Next, Father recited the Kiddush prayer: ‘Blessed is the Lord our G-d, King of the universe, for creating the fruit of the vine.’ Then he would circle the table, laying his hands on each child’s forehead and blessing us. It was such a gentle, loving gesture.”

Shabbat Shalom!