Growing up we went to my grandparents house most Friday nights, as you walked in the door you were greeted with the delicious smells of chicken soup, challah, cake and more! The house was bustling with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. My grandparents had worked together to make the whole meal, the table was set and it just felt cozy, warm and inviting. If I could bottle that feeling of comfort that I felt, it would change the world.
Now with my own kids, I work hard to keep that tradition going. When they were little, I would have Shabbat projects for them to do, sometimes they would help me cook or bake and set the table. We would invite over friends and family weekly, or sometimes we would go to my parents or my sisters house. My youngest used to cry if she got a glimpse of the challah before dinner, and would carry on and cry till dinner, begging for a piece. Getting that time together to slow down and share in your week, is something that is meaningful and wonderful.
As my kids get older, and I get busier, I still make sure every Friday night that I have them with me, we are having Shabbat dinner. We usually eat with my family and we all bring food, something to contribute to the meal, but the important thing is we are together. My daughters get to play with their cousins, and visit with their aunt and uncle and grandparents, just like I did. Even more special, there are times my larger extended family will all do Shabbat together and it is loud and fun, and if we are all there there are over 20 of us, and it is amazing to watch and to truly enjoy each other.
As I write this, imagine “Tradition” from Fiddler on the Roof playing. But that is what it is, traditions, we pass down from generation to generation, l’dor v’dor! My hope is one day to sit back and watch my daughters gather their families at my house every Friday, excited to walk in and smell the delicious food and hear the laughter, sharing and love all in one room.
In that spirit I think of all the food my kitchen prepares that helps families keep these traditions going, and how glad we are able to gather and enjoy the people we love.