Saturday, August 27, 2011
As I opened the door....there stood my new friend...smiling, and holding a warm Challah in her hands...
Sometimes we are lucky enough to have special people come into our lives when we least expect it. That is the case with Miriam...
She signed up for one of my adult pottery classes and we became instant friends.
This interesting woman continues to fascinate me. She and her husband are the proud parents of 9 (yes, 9!) beautiful children ranging in age from 2-18. She seems to be able to lovingly handle this large crew in such a gentle way. She would receive many cell phone calls during the pottery class and I couldn't help but listen to her as she calmly handled each child's needs.
Miriam and her family are Orthodox Jews. This is the most traditional stream of Judaism."Orthodox Jews are very unique in their lifestyle. They are very family oriented and lead warm and loving large families. Honoring parents and devotion for their children's humble and honest upbringing is a core Orthodox Judaism belief."
From sundown on Friday evening to sundown on Saturday night, the Sabbath is observed. Phones, television, and, even lights are turned off. If they go to their house of worship they will walk... as driving is not allowed on the Sabbath.
Miriam's husband is the Rabbi of the local Chabad House. Many wonderful and inspiring events and programs take place there throughout the year.
So, what is so unusual about this new friendship? Well, even though I am Jewish, I am part of the Reform stream of Judaism. This is the most contemporary and progressive of the three sects. Much of our Temple Services are done in English with a small portion of prayers done in Hebrew. I do not take part in many of the strict observances that Miriam and her family do.
In fact, my whole feeling about organized religion is somewhat challenging. I find that religion can be so divisive. I believe that individual spirituality and goodness is a much more important aspect of my religious life. I am proud to be Jewish and I certainly celebrate the holidays....but, much of my prayer is done personally and privately on my own.
I so look forward to opening up my mind and heart as I get to know more about Miriam and her beliefs. We have already planned to get together and exchange thoughts and ideas that we each have. I have many questions about Orthodox Jewry that I plan on asking Miriam....and, I know that she will answer me without any judgement on her part.
This is the second time that she has come to my door to wish me a good Shabbas and to bring me one of her homemade (and delicious!) braided challah breads. In my desire to do something special and meaningful for her, I have begun to create a Sabbath challah tray out of clay for her family to use on Friday nights.
I can't wait to be able to present it to this beautiful and special new friend...