0117shabbatpennThis morning I spent a few hours of precious time cooking with my mother. We noshed, kvelled and kvetched as we prepared Shabbat dinner together. Yes, I’m much older, well into the second half of my life, but what a wonderful gift of time together—a blessing to be shared as we recreated a modern day version of my late grandmother’s kraut blintzes (sweet and sour cabbage balls). She would have loved to see us cooking together, to hear us discussing (ok, maybe arguing a little) which ingredients might be healthier or more appropriate to use today. Honey would have told us exactly what we were doing wrong, pushing us to get it right and understanding all the time that passing these traditions down through the generations keeps Judaism alive and families together.

Spending time with my mother preparing for Shabbat dinner, the one time each week my children, parents, cousins and close friends come together to eat and socialize, is a blessing that I try not to take for granted. Working full time and then some outside of the house each week, I come home tired. I try to find time to shop, cook, clean, workout and help my son with his homework. Seldom do I have enough time or energy to visit my parents as often as I would like. However, I do understand the importance of “honoring your mother and father.” I love and cherish them dearly, am constantly in touch with them, speak to them every day, ensuring that their needs are met and grabbing whatever time I can get with them.

Today I am so grateful that I decided to take the day off. That I spent the day with my beautiful mother. That we honored the memory of my precious grandmother. That we prepared a traditional family Shabbat dinner and most of all that we will all get to eat it together – just after the the sun sets, the candles are lit, we bless our children, and continue our beautiful tradition into the years to come. I look forward to one day making these kraut blintzes with my daughter in preparation for another family Shabbat dinner.

Sue Penn, the Director of Congregational Learning at University Synagogue, is known for being an innovative and creative educator. Sue sits on the Board of Directors for JFFSOC and Someone Cares Soup Kitchen. Sue is committed to providing opportunities which allow every individual to learn and engage in community.

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