I sit with my daughters at Kol Shabbat services. Each of us wears her Women of the Wall tallit. Our voices singing Oseh Shalom, “May the One Who makes peace in the heavens make peace upon us, and upon all Israel.” When my daughters were young, “Oseh Shalom” was one of the songs I sang to them at bedtime. They are now teenagers. I take pride in their accomplishments and cherish my time with them knowing that in a few years they will be adults most likely living in their own homes. I know their paths are diverging from mine as I see them embrace opportunities and pursuing their unique interests. On Shabbat, we are together changing our focus from doing to reflecting, from rushing to relaxing, from acquiring to appreciating. The tallit we wear envelop us with the Shabbat’s spirit.
Judaism has always anchored me. Even as a child, the prayers recited in Hebrew and the traditions provided me a sense of belonging to something greater than me and filled me with a sense of peace. Fascinated with Jewish history and strong Jewish women role models, I studied Women’s History and found heroines in the Jewish immigrant women of the early 1900s.
I wanted to transmit my Jewish values and the beauty of Jewish history and tradition to my family. When my husband and I chose a synagogue, it was essential that it be a community where my daughters would be nurtured, strengthened and supported. The Hadassah woman and women’s history major in me purposefully selected a synagogue with a woman Rabbi. My daughters would have strong female spiritual role models.
When the time came to select a tallit for their Bat Mitzvah both chose the Four Matriarchs Women of the Wall tallit. Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel are each represented on the corners of the tallit.
This past fall was a time of transition for our family. In August, my husband, younger daughter and I helped my oldest daughter move into her college dorm and into the next chapter of her life; the first one away from home. Even though my younger daughter is still at home, when she began high school it signaled another milestone for her.
These transitions have made me acutely aware of the preciousness of the times spent with my daughters and husband. In the business of the day to day responsibilities, demands, and minutia we often move through time as if it is limitless and as if the doing and the tasks are what matters. But, on Shabbat we create a sacred space for us; a sanctuary where we celebrate the wonder of the world and find inner peace.
And, sitting at Shabbat services without my older daughter I am warmed by the memory of me and my daughters at Kol Shabbat services together wearing our Women of the Wall tallit. I remember my husband and I placing their tallit on their shoulders when they became B’not Mitzvah and were called to the Torah. L’dor va dor, from generation to generation. They have taken their place in Jewish community with the responsibility to safeguard it and transfer it to the next generation.
My older daughter took her tallit with her to college. The tallit which her father and I wrapped around her shoulders when she became a Bat Mitzvah and that she wore when we celebrated Shabbat and holidays as a family. These days at our synagogue, my younger daughter and I sit together wearing our matching tallit. All three of us are connected.
We will each travel different paths and pursue different interests and we will return to celebrate Shabbat and holidays together our matching tallit.
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