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A Woman at the Center Lighting the Candles for Shabbat

A Woman at the Center Lighting the Candles for Shabbat

"BASHA: Do you know what it meant to me when I was called to the candles last Friday? I'll tell you. When I was a little girl, I would stand this way, beside my mother when she would light the candles for Shabbat. We were alone in the house, everything warm and clean and quiet with all the good smells of the cooking food coming in around us. We were still warm from the mikva. My braids very tight, to last through Shabbes, made with my best ribbons. Whatever we had, we wore our best. To this day, when the heat of the candles is on my face, I circle the flame and cover my eyes, and then I feel again my mother's hands on my smooth cheeks.

"Basha's description of how the Sabbath ritual affected her and stayed with her, preserving intact with complete freshness the original context in which she acquired it, seemed to me a striking example of what Rachel had called "Domestic Religion." It had the same features she described, acquired in early childhood, completely associated with family and household, blending nurturance and ethnic specificities, and it was this blend that gave hearth-based religion such endurance and depth."

1. Entire quote from Barbara Myerhoff, Number Our Days (New York: Dutton, 1978) 256.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "A Woman at the Center Lighting the Candles for Shabbat." (Viewed on December 1, 2015) <>.


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