Sabbath Silence

Sabbath Silence by Yael Perlman - Photo by Liora Meyer

Each Friday night
Dressed in blue and white
The family gathers
Round the Sabbath table

We discuss politics
Loud like falling bricks
We hear family gossip
And weekly encounters

Right before we eat
Everyone rises from their seats
To wash their hands
In the kitchen sink

Water comes out drip by drip
Washing our hands and our lips
Silence washes over our mouths
Prohibiting all from speaking

One by one the family files back
Everyone ready to resume with their yack
Until the challah bread is eaten
All voices are silent

We wait in the quiet
As rare a midnight riot
Enjoying the few moments of peace
Something strange in a loud family

I notice my father’s new stubble
And the seltzer bottles’ little air bubbles
Grandma has a brand-new pin
I spot my mother’s new cookie tin

Mother returns to her chair
And gets ready to say the prayer
Over the bread
To break the silence

As soon as she lifts up the loaves of bread
It seems like everyone has risen from the dead
Slices of challah are passed around
And conversation resumes

I take a bite of my mother’s bread so sweet
A bread that is truly a treat
I savor the silence
Which carries me through until next week

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