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Quotable: The Blogs

Vessel of Discontent

"A papier-maché cup is central to our family's Shabbat.

To help set difficult things aside on Shabbat, every Friday night our family passes around a vessel of discontentinto which each participant is asked to 'drop' whatever is in the way of welcoming Shabbat. Ours is a papier-maché cup created for the purpose, but anything would do.

Some participants give the cup a perfunctory grasp. Some meditate a few moments. Occasionally someone visibly struggles to shed a rough week or a personal issue. A few shrug or sneer. On more than one Friday nightespecially at larger, multi-generational tablesfidgeting or thoughtlessness during the cup's first round has prompted someone at the table to request a second pass. On the whole, the cup provides a way for us, individually and collectively, to recognize the many weights we carry and consider the value of setting them aside, if only for a day.

As my husband Cary says, 'Vacations are once a year, if you're lucky. But Shabbat is never far off.'"
—Virginia Avniel Spatz and her husband Cary O'Brien on


Union for Reform Judaism.