Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Blessing of Shabbat: How I Learned to Relax

"As much as the Jewish people have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jewish people."

I am not someone who relaxes. Any of my friends can tell you that I am always moving. But I want to relax. And that's where Shabbat comes in. I always loved Shabbat at camp as a kid. We would spend hours getting ready and then go to services and dinner as a community. But when i was home, Shabbat was never a huge part of my life. Sure, we went to Saturday morning services occasionally, and once and a while I would be participating in a Friday night service, so I would go, but it was not a weekly part of my life.

Since coming to school, Shabbat has become a huge part of my life. Shabbat has become a social time to pray, sing, and spend time with friends.  Some weeks, I spend hours planning Friday night services in preparation. I clean my room every Friday morning, and I spend time putting makeup on. I turn off my notifications on my phone and block all social media on my computer. I make a conscious decision to transition into Shabbat mode.

And my Shabbats have become fun as well. My minyan is a family. We support each other during hard weeks, and we celebrate each other during good ones. We laugh, we sing, and most importantly, we are unconditionally there for one another, no matter what. At the end of the day, I could not be more thankful for them. Three of my other best friends lead a different minyan and walking into Shabbat dinner and knowing that they will be waiting to hug me makes me feel like I belong in a way that I haven't felt before. We talk, we joke, and we celebrate the fact that we made it through another week. My Saturdays have changed too. instead of sitting in my room watching TV all day, I eat lunch with my friends, either during our Mishnah class or not. We have inside jokes and predictable seats at the table. We have intellectual conversations and ridiculous ones. We end Shabbat together as well, sitting in a circle, telling everyone what our high and low points of the week are. It's truly the best way to end a week.

Together is the only way I can describe the feeling that I gain from Shabbat at school. You would think that disconnecting from social media and my phone would isolate me, but in reality, the opposite has happened. I have better conversations because nobody is staring down at their phone. I fell surrounded by love. And finally, I get to relax. For one scheduled day every week, I give myself permission to relax. And for the gift of Shabbat, I could not be more grateful.

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