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Life has been as good as it gets but moments of stress do erupt at regular intervals in our apartment.  An argument over a book, annoying chatter from our most talkative child (guess who?), and yet another spousal miscommunication are just some of the ongoing challenges in our daily routine.  Any night can end up with everyone grumping off into their little sector of private space, not to emerge until the next morning offers a fresh start at domestic tranquility. The Jewish sabbath has always had special meaning for our family because it offers us the possibility of transcending our daily struggles and coming together in a moment of peace at the end of the week.

Last Friday we planned to attend the Reform synagogue’s evening service but did not make it.  This would have required some fairly complicated logistics after a very long day and week and we all seemed to lack the energy. We often celebrate the sabbath at  home, but this time we enhanced our usual ritual with new elements chosen by each of us. Avery chose one of the prayers he is studying for his bar mitzvah and I chose the kiddush (blessing over the wine, in this case a French pinot noir!), the longest of the three shabbat blessings and one that I have never learned.

Since Reform Judaism originated in Germany, what better place to learn about the rituals of Reform worship than in our apartment in Berlin. I still plan to attend Reform services, but the biggest blessing of the past week was to have my family gathered around the table with me in the spirit of  shabbat and for some brief moments of peace in the house.