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Danita and Michael Aziza


by Danita Aziza, February 14, 2013

I’ve always dibbled and dabbled in Shabbat. As a kid I remember barreling through my grandparents’  apartment door and arriving just in time to see my Grandma toss a sheer navy blue scarf over her perfectly coiffed hair and bench licht over the white candle sticks set in to her slightly tarnished, three-pronged silver candelabra.  My Gram wasn’t all that religiously observant, but just as she would never abandon her customary Saturday afternoon stroll through Moose-Jaw’s Main Street  Eaton’s store, she  would also never dream of ironing, sewing or lighting one of her extra –long menthol cigarettes on the Sabbath.

As a tween at Camp B’nai Brith my most favorite time was late Friday afternoons when the Alberta sky would take on a dark shade of blue and the normal frenzy of activity would come to a halt. All us girls would become chock full of excitement, wheeling and dealing in clothing exchanges, and with our lips glistening with layers of pink gloss, we would gather by the flag pole to usher in sundown with the most beautiful of melodies.  The camp wasn’t in any way “religious”, but the maintenance of a Shabbat atmosphere was as much a part of the institution as the red Kool-Aid filled pitchers on the long dining hall tables.

As soon as I married Michel, Friday night dinner became sacred no matter how hectic the week or how stiff the social event competition. Michel’s Mom would start cooking on Wednesday and by Thursday evening I’d be full of anticipation for Moroccan eggplant salad, chachuka and freshly baked challah.  The nutritional deficiencies we busy professionals experienced from Sunday thru Thursday, were more than compensated for come Friday evening.   Friday night dinners back then were all about food, family, reciting the traditional blessings over wine and bread, lively chit chat and connection to one another.  I learned to appreciate it all.

My desire to step up my personal Shabbat observance a notch happened to coincide with our kids’ getting older and acquiring a social life. Much to my chagrin, they showed marginal enthusiasm for relinquishing their usual Friday night TV watching or going out with friends for a game of scrabble with Mom and Dad. Despite their sometimes very loud protestations, Michel and I remained firm when it came to ensuring that certain traditions remained intact on Friday night and Saturday.   Believe me, this didn’t make us parental popularity contest winners, but the payoff  came by way of a plethora of amazing memories made around the dinner table with some wonderful friends, both theirs and ours,  and a confidence that our kids would weave Shabbat into their lives as they journey on to establish homes of their own.  

 While I certainly don’t come close to playing by the rules of Shabbat, I do make sure that the seventh day of the week does not resemble any other. Shabbat facilitates my ADD going into momentary remission whereby I’m able to truly listen rather than just hear the words of the people around me.  

While I may drive my car, unlike the other six days,  I never do  with the radio on  and, while I use electricity, I don’t  cook  from scratch, type on my computer , speak on the phone or blow dry my hair.
 Shabbat for me has become a day when I don’t rush walking the dogs, when I read chapters rather than merely a few pages of the book beside my bed and when I simply enjoy the luxury of sitting on the sofa staring out the window without feeling any guilt at all.  

When I disconnect and take a breather from my usual frenetic pace, as the Commandment to Keep the Seventh day Holy affords me, I’m able to reboot, refresh and take the time to express gratitude for being able to do so.   I’m no financial wiz, but to me, that alone translates into an excellent return on my investment.

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