DIY Shabbat

Hey, remember that Shabbos
when we feasted
on challah and non-perishables-
tuna in cans, cereal, bags of bruised apples and dried mango-
in the dim light of each others’ company?
to the hum of zemirot born from our lips with no conductor 

That Shabbos
when Shabbos itself was our shelter,
though we were still at the mercy of the tent fabric when it came to the mosquitos and the heat

The bus dropped us off on the side of a deserted highway and the driver gave us the clearest instructions:
yashar, yashar, ve’az yemina, smolah, yashar, yashar
(“straight, straight, then right, left, straight, straight”)

Our bags weighed us down, though we tried to travel light
It was the cereal boxes and non-perishable milk that did it
but we had to be prepared for the Shabbos feast

We found the resort, and it was another planet, a commune dotted with tents and cabins and dry grass
Camp Shabbos 

We unlocked the cabin-tent-hybrid
unpiled the stack of mattresses
tied ribbons around our heads
stared up at the tapestry above our heads and then
at the sky expansive
and the Dead Sea sweeping 

מקולות מים רבים
מים רבים אדירים
אדירים משברי ים
אדיר במרום ה׳
We sang the notes of Lecha Dodi slowly, harmonizing
with each other and with
the crashing, flowing waves 

Into the first or second verse, a new voice emerges,
Joni Mitchell fused with Dolores O’Riordan
I probably was just looking into the distance
or into my siddur when she approached,
but I prefer to believe she materialized like an angel
without footsteps 

She asks if she can join our prayers
We say it would be our pleasure
I tilt my prayer book toward her, and we both
squint toward the letters, the sunset drawing its shades

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Our bottomless cereal bowls take the place of
the fattened hens and quail we sing about.
(Half of us are vegetarian anyway)
“How beloved is your rest…”

Our new angelic friend introduces us to her group,
a motley crew of rugged Israeli teens
We join forces to form a bilingual

We sing middle-school bubblegum pop and Israeli folk songs
עוד לא אהבתי די 

It’s somebody’s birthday and
a nameless Israeli young man we have just befriended
teasingly pours Arak in each of our mouths before we can object
not that we would 

we shake off the anise aftertaste
dancing it away
skipping along the shoreline 

the birthday girl flails her arms like
that game we played when we were younger, Octopus
she can’t help it
I can’t help but
sense that this is the exact scene I’ve been polishing in daydreams since eighth grade
when I first saw Hair 

Freedom isn’t the right word, but it’s the first that comes to mind. 

We did it because we wanted to
because it was Shabbos
because Shabbos surrounded us and we filled it to the brim
til it overflowed and we could not tell where it ended and the Dead Sea began

.וזכנו לקבל שבתות, מתוך רב שמחה
May we merit to accept Shabbatot out of abundant joy.