Saturday, November 29, 2008

Havdalah This Night

Without a synagogue in our area of Mexico, we create our own opportunities for expressing our Jewish beliefs. An unexpected opportunity presented itself today.

Oldest Son and Youngest Son have played for a couple days with 2 children who are vacationing from California and staying next door - neighbors for the weekend. As I spoke with the parents today, we discovered that they are Jewish and originally from Israel. Interestingly they also speak French, Spanish, English and Hebrew.

I asked if they would like to share Havdalah?
Yes but they did not have candles ... no worries, we have several.

The Havdalah candle has more than one wick, as there has to be a combination of at least two flames, stemming from the plural form "lights" used in the blessing (Boré me'oré ha-esh, "Who creates the lights of the fire").

As they called us to Havdalah there was song and laughter. They indicated it would be Sephardic and the elder gentleman began reading from a prayer book in Hebrew only, right to left. He was loud and joyful.

The Havdalah ceremony comprises four blessings: Wine, Spices, lights and the Havdalah blessing. In the various rites (Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Yemenite), the blessings themselves are almost identical, the lead phrase being kol yeshu'ot essa ("I will lift the cup of salvation"), but the introductory sentences preceding it are different: the Ashkenazi recites biblical phrases containing the term yeshu'ah ("salvation"), the Sephardi asks for the granting of general bountifulness and success, and the Yemenite prays for a good week.

A variety of customs are associated with Havdalah which signals the end of Shabbat. This family filled a Jewish silver cup to overflowing to extinguish the candle in the wine. They also looked at their extended fingers with the blessing over the light.

Once again our Jewishness reaches out us across nations, languages, families, neighbors. Amen.

And as a bonus the 8 year old girl left her phone number for Oldest Son - we are glad to see he is attracting nice Jewish girls already ...


Bob Mrotek said...

This is a great post. I really appreciate hearing about your Judaic family customs and traditions. I am constantly learning something new and I think that is what I live for. There is something very peaceful about these traditions. For me they are like the missing link.

Steve Cotton said...

AMM -- I join with Bob in thanking you for sharing traditions. If you have not seen his post today, you should. There is often far more that we share than we know.

YayaOrchid said...

I come by way of Bob's blog and also thank you for sharing about Havdalah. I look forward to learning more.

American Mommy in Mexico said...

All - Thanks for thoughtful words. I enjoy our Judaism and sharing its traditions and values.