A Guest at the Sabbath Table

We had one of the children’s non-Jewish friends over for Sabbath dinner for the first time and I was a little nervous. Would the kid blow out the candles? Would he feel embarrassed? Would he go home and tell his parents that we chant the Devil’s music and drink blood out of a chalice?

As an unorthodox Jewish parent, I’m always riding the line between wanting my children to maintain a strong Jewish identity while learning to belong to the world at large. I don’t want them to be self-conscious about our rituals, and when Abe asked if his friend Luke could spend the night on Friday night, I thought it was a good opportunity to deal with my own fears. Luke’s a neat kid with former punk rock parents, so I figured any reported devil worship would be met with approval anyway.

He was completely mesmerized after we turned down the lights, took three deep breaths, lit the candles and sang the prayers, and then the conversation turned to a little Torah:

“So, my name is in the Bible,” said Abraham.

“Yeah, so’s mine,” mused Luke.

Luke paused, and I braced myself for a lecture about the differences between Old and New Testament from an 8 year-old. But no, he just took another bite of his veggie burger and said:

“It’s in the phone book, too.”

The kid’s invited back.

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