It’s Friday morning and I am preparing for our Shabbat meal. I make my grocery list, decide which tableware to use, and maybe do a little silver cleaning. I speculate which flowers will catch my eye at the market and start creating a floral arrangement in my head. Then, onto my favorite task: going through our dozens and dozens of kippot to pick out the perfect ones for our guests to use. I have been saving kippot from our friends and family’s Bar and Bat Mitzvah services for over 15 years.
Often times we have several families over at once for Shabbat dinner and I usually have kippot from at least one simcha for each family. If I don’t have your actual kippah, I will purposefully pick out a significant one for you to wea The kippot I have collected through the years are colorful, eclectic, and uniquely expressive. There are purple, turquoise, royal blue, white, pink with polka dots, and even paisley kippot. Some are embossed with baseballs, footballs, music notes, personal logos, and iridescent hearts. There are suede, silk, satin, cotton, and crocheted kippot. We have also purchased kippot that are meaningful to our family. The NY Yankees and our daughters’ alma maters — The University of Texas and The University of Michigan — are my husband’s favorites to wear. We have entered the stage in our lives where our friends’ children are starting to get married. It’s heartwarming to see that we have a kippah from someone’s bat mitzvah and now their wedding. I can only imagine how it will feel when one day we have a kippah from their child’s bar or bat mitzvah! As our company arrives on Friday night, there is nothing more special than seeing the joy and smiles on everyone’s faces when they spot their kippah from their special day.
While chanting the Shabbat blessings together, we feel a special bond knowing that our friendships are deep-rooted. We have shared simchas together, and we are continuing the traditions of our people. Once the Shabbat candles are lit, we start with the Shabbat blessings. Our family still recites the blessings the way we did when our now 22- and 23-year-old daughters were in pre-school at our synagogue. Our 7-year-old Maltipoo and our Maltese puppy run right over to us as soon as we start the HaMotzi. I am not sure if they actually recognize the tune or if they just smell the sweet scent of the warm challah when we take the cover off, but nonetheless, they are excited and look forward to their coveted piece each week.
For as long as I can remember, it has always been important to my husband to recite Eishet Chayil, Proverb 31 on Shabbat. When our two daughters were teenagers, they would often roll their eyes when he started to read it. I would always say to them that I hope one day their husbands will recite it to them.
There are many opinions in regard to the meaning of the words of Eishet Chayil; I have never interpreted it as an instruction manual to be a dutiful wife who keeps a clean house and makes babies. I believe that Eishet Chayil, A Woman of Valor, is about having integrity, morality and strength. I like hearing my husband give gratitude each Shabbat for my efforts to our family and household. Being acknowledged for my strength as a wife and mother and for my commitment to Tikkun Olam is an important message that I take from this proverb and the values I like to instill in our daughters.
Even after the Shabbat dinner comes to an end and our guests return to their homes, I enjoy the invigorating energy of the evening that is still permeating the air. The conversations, laughter, and connections will carry us through the rest of Shabbat and into the week. Smiling, I put the kippot away and catch myself wondering which kippot will be worn at our next Shabbat dinner. As I begin to fall asleep I can already taste the challah French toast I will be making in the morning. Shabbat Shalom.