Text Context

Slow Cooked Through the Ages

The story of cholent goes to the heart of Jewish history and tradition.

Special to the Jewish Week
04/28/2010

The origins of cholent, the thick, slow-cooked savory Shabbat stew, the traditional Sabbath midday meal, go all the way back to the time of the Talmud. Indeed, its history takes it on a route so dispersed across centuries and cultures throughout the diaspora, that in different countries it’s alternatively known as hamin (Aramaic for warm, Hebrew for hot); or dafina or adafina (Arabic for “covered”). There are even variants in its Yiddish name, whether schalet in the Yiddish of Germany or shulet in the Yiddish of Eastern Europe.

PHOTO: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. Baking challah for Shabbat at the Immouzer camp.

Journal Watch

Special to the Jewish Week
04/28/2010

The Talmud — and everybody else — ponders the puzzling discrepancy between the two formulations in the Chumash with respect to the Sabbath. One iteration of the Ten Commandments (or “Articles”) in the Chumash uses the word shamor (“keep, guard”), while another uses zachor (“remember”) to describe the broad Sabbath requirement. These two locutions have been midrashically interpreted in different ways, in the broad range of halachic details that the Torah places under rubric of Shabbat.

A Day For Wonder

Shabbat, as Heschel observed, is a ‘palace in time,’ a day to shut everything else down and think of the Eternal.

04/28/2010

Vermont’s Queechee Gorge, formed by glaciers 13,000 years ago, cuts into the earth for nearly a mile, a roaring cascade of water that ends amidst the Ottauqueechee River. If you are 20 or so, as my two sons are, and you trust that the slippery rocks will hold you, you can walk out upon the river itself, stepping from stone to stone until you make it to a large boulder at the river’s center, sitting there with the bending yews before you, water rushing all around.

 heddy abramowitz, Jerusalem Morning, 2004, Oil on canvas.

Isaac Bashevis Singer on Shabbat

04/28/2010

 The Friday evening meal was over, but the candles were still burning in the silver candlesticks. A cricket chirped behind the stove, and the wick in the lamp made a slight sucking sound as it drew up the kerosene. On the covered table stood a crystal decanter with wine and a silver benediction cup, an engraving of the Wailing Wall upon it; near them lay a bread knife with a mother-of-pearl handle and a challah napkin, embroidered in golden thread. 

When Shabbes And Shabbesdik Collide

Does stone-throwing count as work? How about Dylan in Hebrew?

Special to the Jewish Week
04/28/2010

Shabbes! Shabbes!! Has it ever struck you as odd, those scenes in Jerusalem of fervently Orthodox Jews blocking cars and throwing stones on the holy day, to protest its desecration? To you, this may seem absurd and repellent, a blatant violation of the tranquility of Shabbat. To them, it’s a matter of life and death, not just a lifestyle choice. In short: what is or isn’t shabbesdik — in the spirit of the Sabbath, in Yiddish — is very much a subjective affair.

AMERICAN JEWISH JOINT DI STRIBUTION COMMITTEE. Shabbat held in one of the dormitories for Jewish refugees.  Shanghai, China 1940

Shulevitz’s Shabbat

The author of The Sabbath World shares what she’s learned about the day of rest.

Staff Writer
04/28/2010

 Cultural critic Judith Shulevitz grew up in a house divided when it came to observing Shabbat. And she’s not the only one. What for some people is a kind of refuge is for others an antiquated and sometimes oppressive ordeal. From its very beginning, the Sabbath has raised questions, posed challenges and has spawned new ways of thinking for Jews and Christians alike. In her new book, “The Sabbath World, Glimpses of a Different Order of Time,” Shulevitz explores how the Sabbath has been observed and understood over the course of millennia.  

Photo By Michael Datikash

A Lonely Levantine Shabbat

In Cairo, the once-crowded Shar Hashamaim is restored, but there are almost no Jews left to pray in it.

Special to the Jewish Week
04/28/2010

 I make it a point to go to shul on Saturday morning, and that wasn’t going to change when I found myself in Cairo last summer. Yes, it is in an Arab country, but it is my Arab country, where I was born and where of late I have found myself traveling again and again. There is no one there for me — the 80,000 Jews who once lived in Egypt are pretty much gone, as are all my relatives. Cairo, to paraphrase Janet Flanner, was yesterday.

  david cowles, Ark at Ben Ezra, Cairo,1994.

Editor’s Note

Jewish Week Book Critic
04/28/2010

 Chrystie Sherman took the cover photograph, “Shabbat,” in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, in 2002, as part of her “Lost Futures: Journeys into the Jewish Diaspora” project.  Her subject, dressed in a brocade Shabbat robe, opened the door of her family’s home to the photographer shortly before the onset of Shabbat. Later that evening, she hosted Sherman and 10 other guests for a traditional Bukharan Shabbat dinner of fragrant rice and lamb, in their courtyard under the stars. The young woman resembles the Sabbath bride of song.

lighting Shabbat candles at a DC-supported home for the aged for survivors of German concentration camps. Nice, France, 1951

Text Context April 2010: Shabbat

This month, our distinguished writers pause to consider the Sabbath, a day said to mirror the world to come.

Staff Writer
04/28/2010
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JOURNAL WATCH

Special to the Jewish Week
03/19/2010

 “Did you hear the one about … ?”

Humor is an enigma. Philosophers and physicians and psychologists, historians and linguists have for centuries pondered why we laugh. Aristotle and Freud, Kant and Bergson have offered explanations of humor. But at bottom, there ain’t nothing like a good joke.

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