Sunday, November 29, 2009

Saying Kiddush? In Hebrew? With kids?

I’m supposed to be shutting down the computer, but I wanted to say something here about kiddush, because a lot of people are stumbling upon a previous post about pronunciation in Hebrew (modern vs traditional, Yiddish/Ashkenaz vs Sefard, etc).

That post is interesting, and philosophical, but not very helpful, especially for someone who’s interested in starting to say kiddush, whether by themselves, with their family, with their kids, whatever.

I don’t usually do “Judaism basics” on this blog because it is covered so well elsewhere (like at Tracey Rich’s wonderful Judaism 101 site).  But I do remember being a beginner, long, long ago, and being impatient and eager to find information wherever I could. 

First of all, this is what your kiddush doesn’t have to be:

  • In Hebrew.
  • Read perfectly.  (okay, Ted would be upset if he read this, because I do get picky about his… so call me a hypocrite)
  • Sung out loud.
  • Said over wine.
  • Said over terrible, sticky-sweet “sacramental” wine

What do you need, to make kiddush?

  • Grape juice or wine (technically, you can make kiddush over some other beverages, but why…?) (sweet or dry wine is fine; whatever you like best)
  • Siddur (prayerbook), or prayers swiped from the Internet (audio versions to listen to here)… in any language you understand
  • As many people as you can possibly gather around you… preferably people you like and/or love and/or want to share a meaningful experience with.

(Oh… also; light candles first, while you’re at it.  Why not?)

Now, if you have kids with you, you are super-duper-extra-terrifically lucky… because this is the point where you sit down, sigh, look around at each other, hopefully eat a nice meal, or at least a piece of challah. 

Even if you can’t sing kiddush, maybe you could throw in a Jewish song or two afterwards… anything you know is fine to start, even that awful “David Melech Yisrael” (leave out the “pizza pie” line) or “Dreidel, dreidel” if it’s anywhere near Chanukah.  We don’t sing a lot around our table, and I really want to try to change that now that we don’t have any really little babies.

Whether you have only grownups or whether there are kids at your table, you can get into the weekly parsha.  There is something for everybody at Aish HaTorah’s site here… and the UAHC site offers a reform slant here.  For a challenge, there are quizzes for each weekly parsha (along with quiz rules) from the Pardes site here.

Whatever you do with this special time, the week is over and these 25 hours between kiddush and havdalah are your gift… use them to linger with the people you have gathered around you.  Make it Family Games Night, play charades with friends, make it Quiet Reading Night… whatever you do, it’s your special day.

Enjoy!

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