It’s the Shabbas before Mother’s Day

May 8, 2015

Karla Gudeon – Sabbath Peace

On this Shabbas before Mother’s Day, let’s think a bit about from whence we came –

Most of you know that our Jewishness comes from our mothers. Do you know why? Before the days of paternity testing, the only parentage that could be (mostly) assured was that of mother to child. But there is so much more to it than that. The explanation I found at really resonated with me:

“Jewishness is passed down by the mother because being Jewish is a spiritual identity, it defines our very being. And our very being we get from our mother, both in body and in soul.”

 “From a purely physical perspective, a child is more directly connected to their mother. The father’s contribution to the production of a child is instantaneous and remote. The mother, on the other hand, gives her very self to the child. The child is conceived inside the mother, develops inside the mother, is sustained and nourished by the mother, and is born from the mother.”

It makes you think, doesn’t it?

Where did you get your neshama (soul)? Chances are it filtered down since your great-grandmother emigrated from the ‘old world’ and brought the family minhagim (traditions) with her. Maybe she kept a kosher home and lit Shabbas candles . . .

By the time I came into being, our family had assimilated <insert silly Borg reference here>. I grew up in a secular home in a not very Jewish part of Houston. We celebrated the High Holy Days, Chanukah, Purim, and Passover. Mema’s candlesticks were on her sideboard (I don’t remember ever seeing them lit); there were mezuzot on our front doors; we had chanukkiot & dreidles and seder plates & Elijah’s cup. For years, I thought Mema had kosher for Passover dishes. It turns out that they were simply the good china.

Mom and Mema & Grampa made sure I had a proper Jewish education. I learned to daven; what it meant to keep kosher; why I should honor the 613 mitzvot, Shabbas, and yom tovim; to be a proud Jew, and to support Eretz Yisroel. It was years before all that learnin’ worked its way into my daily life.

I joined USY and later became an advisor; I led Jr. Congregation and became a Hebrew school teacher; and I hung mezuzot on every door in my home. Eventually, I started lighting Shabbas candles (as long as I was home from work in time) and kashered my home. Now I light almost every week and yom tov – my contract even includes Shabbas and the holidays as times I will not work.

In everything they did, Mema, my mother, and a lot of amazing women nourished my neshama.

Many of us are the first generation of women since our great-grandmothers to light Shabbas and yom tov candles, and it’s something for which we should be really proud . . . “Why?” you ask. Well, let me tell you –

First and foremost, when we kindle Shabbas lights we fulfill a mitzvah (commandment), but on a personal level, lighting Shabbas candles brings the lights of our great-grandmothers and all our matriarchs to life. This week, let’s dedicate our candles to our great-grandmothers, our Mema’s and mothers, and all the matriarchs–by-choice whose unique lights we are illuminating each time we light.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Mother’s Day! <3

(Thanks FridayLight​ for inspiring yet another Shabbas post)

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