We have a rare guest post from my husband today. This was his idea, which is really awesome. I’ve talked before about some of the challenges of being in an interfaith marriage. This post I think shows some of the blessings in being in an interfaith marriage where you are truly partners and work together to support each other. This is an illustration of how we make it work.
My Shabbat practice is the core of my Jewish practice. It was the first thing I took on when I began to fully embrace an active Jewish life. It was the first step in my commitment to walking my spiritual path. My husband has always been supportive of it and always participates with me. It’s pretty simple, just the blessings over candles, bread and wine; and then we take a moment to acknowledge each other. I usually then read the parsha for the week.
When we travel, I still try to keep Shabbat. This has turned into a fun thing where we forage for all the necessary things on Friday. Thankfully my Kindle has a couple of Tanachs on it, which makes carrying the Torah portion around easier. Below is my husband Art’s tale of our Shabbat from our recent vacation in Key West. You’ll to get to the end to see the picture of our “Southernmost Shabbat.”
The links are mostly images that illustrate the story and won’t take you off the page.
Southern Most Shabbat
by Art D.
Last Friday found us in Key West in the middle of brief vacation. We had checked into our hotel and spent several hours wandering around exploring the town.
One of the must-see and must-do events in Key West is the sunset. Every night there is a celebration as everyone gathers to see the day to an end and begin the evening’s festivities. It is much like a Fourth Of July fireworks show mixed with a carnival or fair. There are musicians busking, magicians putting on shows, jugglers throwing, and firethrowers warming up.
Late in the afternoon we were sitting at the harbor taking in the scene. It was still and hour until sunset and since we did not feel like just sitting and staring at the sun we got up and continued walking around.
I then had an idea: “Southernmost Shabbat?” I asked Carly. She of course got very excited.
Another obligatory stop in Key West is the iconic “Southernmost Point” marker buoy.
It is not actually the southernmost point in the continental United States, but it’s close enough. (“Southernmost-publicly-accessible-and-always-above-water point” just doesn’t have the same ring to it). Clustered around the buoy are the Southernmost House, the Southernmost Hotel, the Southernmost Restaurant, etc. so the thought of a Southernmost Shabbat seemed to fit.
Every time we go away from home and Friday night comes up the question of what Carly will do, and what we will do, always comes up even though it is rarely spoken. For me it becomes a challenge and in part a treasure hunt; what will be the bread? What will be the wine? Where we get candles? It becomes a chance to share, support and enhance something from which my wife will always derive greater meaning than I will.
When we travel our choice of souvenirs and activities revolve around nature and food. Incorporating this fact into a Sabbath evening poses interesting opportunities. When Carly came with me on an install to Wintergreen, Virginia, I knew that we could stop along the way at Greenwood market and that they would have what we needed. We left with a proper challah, locally made beeswax candles, and beer from a local brewery (Blue Mountain).
A Fourth of July trip to a cabin in Shenandoah National Park proved a bit more problematic.
A stop in little Washington yielded a bottle of Virginia wine, but no bread. As it was a holiday, the stores in Sperryville were either closed or poorly stocked, so we had to do with a spelt cake (like a rice cake, but made out of puffed spelt) and some candles which Carly made that day.
After leaving the harbor at Key West we worked our way south on Duval street. A French bakery had a nice brioche. Figuring that small candles would be best, I found some birthday candles and a lighter at a CVS or Walgreens. The wine elicited some debate. It is perfectly acceptable in Key West to wander around with a cup of beer or wine and it is possible to pick one up almost anywhere; in fact, our lack of drinking until shabbos and dinner sort of set us apart from many of the other tourists.
Getting closer to the Southernmost Point we found a wine shop. A lot of good wine is now sold with a screwtop including the Australian shiraz which Carly selected (I had packed a wine service for just such an emergency but since the airline lost our luggage, we had to go with the screwtop). The shop graciously supplied some plastic cups for us.
We got to the point and went to work. I initially tried punching holes in one of the cups for the candles, but Carly suggested that I soften the ends and put them right on the seawall.
That worked and with a bit of wine poured and the brioche weighing down its bag, the blessings were said.
I had expected Carly to have her Kindle with her (she has at least one Torah on it) and was a bit disappointed that she did not have it. Using a combination of her blackberry and cell phone she was able to locate the correct portion and display it on the former. Unfortunately it was displayed in a column about ten characters wide. I read what I could aloud (a rarity) and we managed to finish the first part. It was awkward, jerky, and difficult to find a rhythm worthy of the text, so we stopped at that point and waited for the light to burn down.
A man came up to me and asked for a light. Not needing the lighter any more, I gave it to him. He was a bit puzzled, but took it, lit his cigarette and walked on.
The tide was rising and surged through a vent in the seawall twice, nearly soaking our feet. Then a wave sent the water over the top. The only things left on top of the wall were the candles, now about halfway spent. The brioche was finished, and we were holding the wine cup, not wanting it to get blown away by the breeze. The water plopped down on the wall everywhere except for a teardrop shaped patch around the candles. The flames continued to burn.