“The Sabbath (in Hebrew, Shabbat) is Judaism’s stillness at the heart of the turning world.” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
This painting is entitled “Jackson’s First Shabbat”. Jackson is actually the French bulldog child of Rabbi David Singer and Danielle Rugoff. I had the opportunity to meet Danielle over lunch. Danielle shared pictures of Jackson after we talked about our mutual love of dogs. In the picture, Jackson stood on a dining table, still a puppy, a tiny thing actually, framed by light and a Kiddush cup. The minute I saw the picture, it conjured all kinds of images of color, celebration, and yes, Shabbat. I laughed, and knew I had to paint what I experienced. Painting Jackson made me smile often, as he stood in a moment that was quite perfect, a cue actually that we can begin over and over.
My first real embrace of Shabbat came when I worked for a Seattle Jewish organization. Heading home on a Friday evening, after a long week of work, I was greeted in the office hallway by the words Shabbat Shalom by my boss. Instantly, I found myself smiling. The words brought me peace. Then, I had yet to know the power of what those words meant, but somewhere deep inside I felt them change me. They still do.
Years later, the words Shabbat Shalom still make me smile. I like saying them and I like hearing them. We are powering down and joining with others in moments of rest, rejuvenation, and gratefulness for all we have. Without that purposeful time we could get easily lost in our busy worlds and all its stress. Regardless of one’s religious belief, I share this as a reminder to all of us that life is precious. Creating joyful and sacred moments of appreciation and rest is essential to our well-being. It’s a call to all of us to take a breath, remember our gifts, and to share them with others. How utterly divine.