For one day of the week, every Sabbath-observant Jew turns off the buzz of technology, work, money and more to tune in to what’s really important: family, friends, community and yes, God. To anyone who’s never tried it, it’s a wonder how we turn off the gadgets. To anyone who keeps Shabbos, it’s a wonder how anyone lives without a day to rest. An Opinion article in this week’s New York Times, The Flight from Conversation, describes our “technological universe:”

We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being “alone together.” Technology-enabled, we are able to be with one another, and also elsewhere, connected to wherever we want to be. We want to customize our lives. We want to move in and out of where we are because the thing we value most is control over where we focus our attention. We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party.

For all the good technology offers, it’s also an addiction. I see in my own life how hard it is to stay away from my laptop, and for the sake of my family and my sanity, I’m still hanging on to my “dumb” phone. Even so, my mind is always buzzing with tasks I need to do online–until the quiet of Shabbos, when turning off the gadgets, somehow quiets the static in my head.

There remains, however, one vice on Shabbos that is a struggle for nearly everyone: overeating. For one day a week, we fill our homes and our synagogues with delicacies, making it a struggle for every person not to stuff his face.

While nothing’s foolproof, we’ve come up with a few rules that help our family:

1. Serve dinner from the kitchen: We rarely have more than one or two guests for dinner, making this an easy rule. Dinner consists of soup, a stir fry (often vegetarian) and a roasted vegetable dish. Keeping the food in the kitchen means we’re less likely to take too much or go back for seconds.

2. One cookie and one piece of candy from shul: Especially when there’s a bar mitzvah, shul can be a junk food fest. This rule keeps my kids sane, while keeping them hungry for lunch. If they somehow manage to squirrel away an extra candy, we save it for the third meal.

3. Eat a light lunch: Our lunches are almost entirely salad. We start with a cold soup or fish and then eat dishes like: udon noodle salad (recipe to come later this week), thai cabbage slaw, salsa and chips, big ol’ green salad, wheat berry salad, summer bean salad (see below) and vegan pizza. We often have baked schnitzel too, and one pound of chicken breast feeds the whole table–even up to 12.

4. Make a healthy dessert: A dessert like banana cocoa ice cream or date balls (see below) keeps me away from the brownies, cakes and cookies.

5. Snack on popcorn: Shabbos parties, featuring a whole plate or bag of treats, are gross. My kids used to beg for it, but enough “no’s” means they’ve gotten used to not having it.

1lb. Medjool dates (available at Trader Joes, in the fridge section)–these are the plump dates
2T cocoa powder
1/4 cup peanut butter
2T agave syrup or honey
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded cocount

Puree the dates in a food processor until smooth. Add the cocoa, peanut butter and honey and blend. Roll into small balls and then roll them in the coconut. Store in the fridge.

Equal parts corn, black beans, chick peas and edamame
1/4 cup fresh, roughly chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
3T balsamic vinegar

Combine all the ingredients and serve at room temperature.

2 thoughts on “Tuning in on Shabbos

    1. i always use dried medjool dates. I never had to add water because the dates are already moist. I think if you have really dry dates, you could soak them in some hot water, but I never tried it.

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