Shabbat Themes: Candles and Table Setting

shabbat table with challah cover, wine bottle, wine cup
I find I often paint in themes. On Fridays, I am often inspired to paint a shabbat table scene or my candles. However, I rarely have time on Fridays.

Those who do not keep the Sabbath might ask: how do you tolerate a day without being able to paint or draw? My response: as long as I have time during the week for painting or drawing, the Sabbath is a welcome day for reflecting. I do not record every minute of my life what transpires. Having time just to sit and think helps one when life is rushed during the week.

In the Torah the Sabbath is mentioned many times. One example is in the parsha of Kedoshim 19:3 where it says: “you shall observe My Sabbaths.”

candles, watercolor on paper
Late Friday afternoon one hour before sunset I light the candles for Shabbat. It is a time of reflection and meditation. No more rushing about. The food is cooked. One says the prayer and takes time to move one to whatever is next.

Shabbat Table with light, watercolor
I really like painting green wine bottles. It has reflection and a deep green color. It reminds me of family members who enjoy visiting vineyards and tasting good wine. As a painter who likes to capture the light, the bottle is elegant and slender and says: “use me as your prop.”

bottle of wine by paisley tablecloth
This is one of my favorite wine bottle paintings. I like the paisley fabric upon which it rests. A good combination for a still-life.

Shabbat table in gouache
This Shabbat table setting, painted in gouache, reflects some of our busy meals. I make a variety of foods, put on several colored tiles like the one that appears in the corner, and use my good china. I like how the salt shaker, an important item as it gets sprinkled on the challah after the blessing, peaks out from behind the tall wine bottle.

If you want to purchase a print of any of these Shabbat scenes, visit my store for more information.

Shabbat Favorites with Watercolor

Shabbat watercolor with challot, candles, and kiddush cup
Shabbat watercolor with challot, candles, and kiddush cup; watercolor by Leora Wenger, 2012

Every week traditional Jews around the world celebrate a holiday. As one of my friends said, we prepare Thanksgiving dinner every week! Well, maybe not turkey. In the painting are two challot (plural of challah, the traditional braided bread), two candles (we are not allowed to light new flames on Shabbat, so we light candles before the day begins; I actually light five, one candle for each family member) and 1 kiddush cup (filled with wine or grape juice). The two loaves of bread symbolize the fact that when the Children of Israel were in the desert, they would pick double the bread (actually, it was manna) the day before and rest on Shabbat. Kiddush means “sanctification” – it’s the special prayer said at the beginning of the Friday night and Shabbat lunch meals. We also say a version of kiddush on Jewish holidays like Passover or Sukkot.

I asked a few of my blogger friends to tell me some of their Shabbat favorites. Enjoy the responses!

Laura of Pragmatic Attic:

My favorite zemer is Mizmor L’David.
My favorite things to eat on Shabbos are freshly baked challah and potato kugel (which always tastes best at the shul kiddush).
A favorite pastime on Shabbos is reading, but I also really enjoy spending time with family and friends (without the usual distractions of telephones, television, etc.).
Least favorite part of Shabbos? When it ends of course! (and we have to clean up and go back to the usual routine).

Risa also known as Isramom wrote about her grandfather David and his closed shop on Saturday. In Yiddish: שבת געשלאסען

“In New York there were laws that forbade opening stores on Sunday so in order to keep Shabbat an orthodox Jew had the choice of keeping his store closed two days every week or to open on Sunday and if a policeman passed by pay a fine. My grandfather did a little of both. So what was only a marginally profitable business in the dark days of the Great Depression became even more marginal.”

And in this post From Generation to Generation Risa talks about her mother and shares how she is one of a long chain of women who have lit candles for Shabbat.

Batya talks about how she and her husband eat on Shabbat: lots of vegetables! Her Shabbat every week also has Torah – she regularly attends a women’s class called Shiur Nashim (class for women).

Ilana-Davita enjoys planning her Shabbat menus in advance of the day and reading and napping on Shabbat. Traveling back in time to 2008, she posted Quick Shabbat Dishes with Asian Touch.

Mirj of Miriyummy writes:

Favorite zemer: Dror Yikra, sung in an authentic as possible Yemenite accent.
Favorite Shabbat food: my husband makes these amazing roast potatoes. He parboils them and then roasts them in a hot oven in shmaltz!
Favorite parsha: I love parshat Beshalach because of Shirat Hayam.
Favorite dvar torah: My husband has a dvar torah for parshat Noach where he compares Noach to Avraham and Moshe. I never get bored or tired hearing that one (every year!).
Favorite Shabbat past time: kiddush hopping! Some whisky, some kugel, lots of friends!
Favorite Shabbat blog: my own post: The Story of Noah — Good Friends in High Places — where friends of ours helped us when God and the weather made it uncertain that we would get Shabbat on the table in time.
Favorite Shabbat image: my challot after they come out of the oven.
Mirj miriummy challot
Least favorite part of Shabbat: clearing the table. I don’t mind washing dishes, I just hate the whole clearing up after a good meal. I just want to sit at the table and savor the meal, instead of getting busy clearing everything away.

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If you keep Shabbat/Shabbos, what are your favorites? Songs, food, parsha? Anything else?