Flavors of Shabbat at HBHA


Dr. Edna Levy

Gabrielle Abrams

One of the things that makes Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy (HBHA) such a special school is its Jewish diversity. There are students, teachers, and administrators from every sect of Judaism, each with their own customs. Some of these traditions may come from family members and others may have been inherited as a part of the region in which one grows up. Shabbat is a wonderful time to reflect on the previous week and relax with family and friends. Those in the orthodox denomination take the laws of Shabbat in their original literal sense, while conservative, reform, and secular families have their own interpretations of the laws and create their own customs.

photo by Dara Granoff
The Sosover family loves celebrating Shabbat together each week. Photo by Dara Granoff.

First grade student Sroly Sosover says, “Shabbat is my favorite day of the week.” On Friday night, Sroly attends services at The Torah Learning Center (an orthodox congregation) with his father Rabbi Berel Sosover while his mother Chanie Sosover makes the Shabbat meal. The preparations for Shabbat at the Sosover’s begin on Tuesday or Wednesday when Rabbi Sosover bakes the challah, which Sroly says is “yummy”! The Shabbat meal usually consists of fish and salad with ice cream for dessert. Candles are lit, blessings are recited, and the parasha of the week is discussed.

Dr. Edna Levy
Dr. Edna Levy’s family has many special Shabbat traditions, including a twist on “Eshet Chayil” and resting. Photo by Gabrielle Abrams.

In the Levy/Schreiber household, Shabbat begins with a long nap. If the family is hosting guests for dinner, then they tidy up their home in preparation. Five candles are set out, one for each member of the Levy/Schreiber clan. Two blessings are said over the candles, one is the traditional blessing and the other is an alternative blessing written by Marsha Faulk that is a personal favorite of Dr. Levy. It is traditional to recite “Eshet Chayil” (Woman of Valor) at the Shabbat meal, which includes antiquated expectations of women. Instead, the Levy/Schreibers have each kid say what nice, out of the ordinary thing their mother did for them this week. Dr. Levy says that Friday night is her favorite evening of the week because her family gets to take time off of all of their busy schedules and just hang out.

Sixth grader Ophelia Shapiro celebrates Shabbat with a plethora of aunts, uncles, and cousins at her grandma’s house. They enjoy lots of food, especially their grandma’s ooey gooey butter cake, and they enjoy each other’s company. Shapiro says, “It’s fun just to hang out with family.”

It is rare but beautiful that even though each of our Shabbat traditions are different,  we still come together as one kehilla; one community.