First Person: Shabbat, with company and without

The smell of freshly brewed vegetable soup. The vibrant colors of roasted purple, orange and white potatoes. The soft challah with chocolate chips sprinkled on top. These are my favorite nights: Shabbat.

While I was home during my spring break – which was extended for two weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic – I would spend Shabbats with my boyfriend and his roommates. Each week, we would cook a full three-course meal with chicken, of course, being the main dish. Each of us would have our own job, whether that be chopping onion and garlic, slicing tomatoes or salting eggplant.

It’s the preparation of the challah that first excites me for Shabbat. Then it’s the lighting of the candles and the clink of the glasses filled with a six-dollar bottle of wine. Finally, we are ready for our feast. Friday nights give me time to relax and reflect on the week. Enjoy company. And fill my stomach with delicious food.

My spring break was over, and it was time to go back to school. My first class started March 30. When that first Friday came, on April 3, I felt a little bit of emptiness. There was no feast, no blessings and no people. It was then that I realized you must take in every moment you can.

Because now, we don’t have those nights. Some may be with their family. Some may be with a best friend. And some are alone. Though we can no longer physically be with one another, we will reunite soon. Until then, hope, faith and a lot of chocolate chip cookies are my fuel.