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Reflections of a Breaking Challah Shabbat - 13 May, 2016

Breaking Challah is about giving people an authentic Shabbat dinner experience, not necessarily a religious one, but one that is authentic to you, to your home, to your family, sharing your traditions. By breaking challah together, we promote tolerance and understanding through transparency.

Last night, there were lots of people, mountains of food, hyper kids, a barking dog, alcohol, broken glasses, and lots of noise. Pretty standard at my house, and therefore authentic - no structure, no worries, no airs and graces, just the traditions we love, and real conversations.

Our guest list last night represented Melbourne business, philanthropy and entertainment. All of our guests were invited with their partners and children, including:

I must admit that I was a bit intimidated by having such accomplished movers and shakers come to my home - “Will they mind sitting on folding chairs?” “Can I really serve dessert on plastic plates?” Ahh, who cares? I always entertain barefoot because I feel more relaxed, and I think my guests automatically feel that we don't stand on any pomp or ceremony. It’s who I am and what I do, and if this was to be authentic, then I had to be myself and do exactly as I always do. Nobody cared. Everyone had a great time. Mission accomplished.

Many of the guests last night were strangers, but I explained that in our family, after we say Kiddush and pass around the wine, we become family. For me, Shabbat is about family, its about connecting, reflecting, eating and enjoying one another after a long week. As always, as my daughters and I sang the blessing over the candles and welcomed the Sabbath, I said prayers for my guests and reflected on the week that was.

The thing I love most about hosting non-Jewish people at Shabbat is the pride I feel in sharing our connectedness to these age-old traditions. I’m not a religious person at all, yet each time I host a Breaking Challah Shabbat I reconnect with all that I feel is wonderful about being Jewish. Despite the world moving more and more towards virtual relationships, we are keeping alive personal interaction, setting aside technology, even for a few hours and it reminds me not to take for granted how extraordinary this is in this day and age.

When I married my husband, my father-in-law gave me a beautiful triangular piece of lace that had belonged to my late mother-in-law. Each Shabbat, I use the lace to cover my head as I light the candles and I am reminded of her even though I never knew her. As usual, I shared this story with my guests last night. I am curious as to YOUR special family traditions? What makes Shabbat special to you, (as a host or as a guest)?

Shabbat Shalom,

Justine x

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