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The Sabbath Now
July 20, 2019 - June 7, 2020
Artist Norma Minkowitz is best known for establishing crochet as a fine art technique. Minkowitz learned crochet from her mother as a young girl and quickly started making clothes for her dolls. Today, she still crochets over objects, using them to support her creations. After Minkowitz stiffens the fibers with resins, she removes the completed textile from its form, transforming her work into a hollow, transparent sculpture. She employs this technique in The Sabbath Now, a fiber sculpture that depicts elements common to the Friday-evening family celebration of the Jewish Sabbath (“Shabbat” in Hebrew).
The Sabbath Now depicts elements common to the Friday-evening family celebration of the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat). The ceremony begins before sundown with the lighting of two candles. After the candles are lit, celebrants cover their eyes and say a blessing. Some families include a special blessing for children and lay hands on the children’s heads as they recite. Before dinner, celebrants say kiddush and hamotzi, or the blessings over wine and challah (a traditional braided bread) respectively. When Norma Minkowitz created this sculpture in 2011, she made a historically inspired counterpart, The Sabbath Then, which references ancient celebrations of this holy day.
Celebrating Shabbat at Home
Preparation for Shabbat begins as early as midweek in some households, and its arrival is marked by the spiritual illumination of a candle-lighting ceremony. Rabbinic tradition mandates three Shabbat meals, two begun with a special kiddush (“sanctification”) recited over wine. These family meals are occasions for singing, studying, and celebrating together, as well as for consuming distinctive Shabbat foods.
Kiddush is the prayer over wine (or grape juice) that sanctifies Shabbat. On Friday night, the kiddush is recited before sitting down for Shabbat dinner and before saying the motzi, the blessing over the challah. After the kiddush is recited, the cup is passed around so that everyone can take a sip from it.
On Saturday morning, the kiddush is said after Shabbat morning services and before lunch. The Shabbat morning version of the kiddush focuses on God’s commandment for Jews to observe the Sabbath and make it holy.
Friday–Night Kiddush in English
The sixth day. And the heavens and the earth and all that filled them were complete. And on the seventh day, God finished all the work that God had done, and God rested on the seventh day from all the work that God had done. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because on the seventh day God rested from all the work of creation that God had done.
[The one saying kiddush says] Hearken, distinguished guests!
[Diners answer] To life!
Blessed are you, Eternal, our God, ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.
Blessed are you, Eternal, our God, ruler of the universe, who sanctified us with your commandments. With love and favor you gave us the holy Shabbat as a reminder of the act of creation. It is the holiest day and commemorates the Exodus from Egypt. With love and favor, you bequeathed to us your holy Shabbat as a sacred inheritance. Blessed are you, Adonai, who sanctifies the Shabbat.
The above texts are courtesy of www.myjewishlearning.com. They have been restructured and lightly edited with input from Rabbi Alexander Davis of Beth El Synagogue, St. Louis Park. The audio file is courtesy of www.Hadar.org.