21 different people with different needs, experiences, and desires completed one week of organic farming and created a wonderful Shabbat experience. That is pretty amazing!
We divided up our Shabbat experience into 4 committees: cooking, education, beautification and ritual. Each was responsible for their given aspect of Shabbat, which organized the process and allowed everyone to have a hand in the aspect they felt most connected to. I was part of the cooking committee, and although it was hectic, it was a great experience and it all came together well! It was my first experience really observing Shabbat in the traditional sense, and to be honest, I did not uphold all of the laws. However, preparing all of the food for Shabbat ahead of time was a new experience, and it really got the creative juices flowing in terms of having to cook for over twenty people and make foods that could be eaten cold (lighting a flame is forbidden on Shabbat).
The education committee led us in the blessings over the wine and challah (fresh baked!) and the ritual handwashing, and provided explanations for the basis of the traditions. We had a lovely Shabbat service led by Becky and Shev and created by the ritual committee. Jonathan from the farm joined us for the service and dinner, which was a great addition to our community! The beautification committee did a great job sprucing up our humble abode- the first time since we moved in that the shower was free of sand and dirt! It was also the first time we had tables in the living room so that we could all sit and relax during meals together, rather than eating with our plates on our laps.
After the great conversation and delicious meal, we had a Quaker style meeting in the evening. This was my first experience with this tradition, and it was awesome! We all sat in a circle in the living room, and focused our thoughts inward. If anyone was moved to speak, they were encouraged to stand and share their thoughts. The great part about it was that it was not a conversation; people shared what they wanted to share, and the rest of the group could digest it in their own time.
Fast-forward: Shabbat day
The day came together so well! I have to admit, I was a little nervous about being bored, but I didn’t have time to do all of the things I wanted to do! My favorite part was when Leah (Mil’s wife who we met at the San Diego Jewish Academy) came to share her knowledge of Traditional Chinese Medicine with us. She gave us a brief background and shared her experience, added some anecdotes, and then allowed us to bemoan our ailments and she would give us suggestions or work on whatever areas she could. Noah got a little acupuncture around a recent scar, Joel got some foot reflexology, and Sika got her stiff shoulder massaged. She was very honest and down to Earth in her practice, and presented her skills as something that worked for her but did not force it on anyone. She also brought some resources that I really want to check out when we get back- Paul Pitchford is apparently a great author to read in terms of healing foods, which fits in perfectly with our trip! I hope I have time to look into it when we get back to the grind of Penn!
Now it’s Saturday night, and I can’t believe that we are heading back to Penn tomorrow. Our experiences here have been enlightening, life-changing, and almost surreal. I know that I will never have the same experience again, but it was really inspired me to want to do something to alter my lifestyle to better myself and improve the relationship I have with food and the food system. I am really interested in looking into becoming part of a CSA, and my personal goal is to try to eat more seasonally. Of course, this will require me to not only take the time to cook for myself, but also to learn what and how to cook, which may be the even larger challenge. I think I just need a personal chef that I can apprentice and learn from: be prepared, mom and dad!