Ein Bustan:Arab-Jewish Education - Celebrating Shabbat in an Arab-Jewish Kindergarten
Sowing Seeds of Hope and Peace
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Home >> Living and Learning Together >> Celebrating Shabbat in an Arab-Jewish Kindergarten
 
 
Bread and Salt Between Us: Celebrating  Shabbat in an Arab-Jewish Kindergarten
 
 
 
Ola Wadim Zidan
Rachel Gottlieb
 
Celebrating a distinctly Jewish day (Shabbat) in a mixed Arab-Jewish Waldorf kindergarten poses a dilemma. In Jewish homes, (and kindergartens) Friday is a day dedicated to preparing for Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.  In the Moslem Arab culture, prayers are held in the mosque on Friday, and all commercial activity stops. After prayers, everyone is allowed to go back to their normal activities. In Moslem culture, it is believed that Adam, the first man and prophet on earth, came down from paradise to Earth on Friday, and the “Yum Elkiama” (End of Days) will also take place on a Friday.
 
Taking into consideration the different beliefs and lifestyles, we deliberated if the kindergarten should be open at all on Fridays, and an easy solution would have been to forgo opening altogether, since many Jewish families also have this day off. Eventually it was decided that the kindergarten would be open every other Friday.

 

However, the more complicated issues remained - how to celebrate this day in a meaningful way for both the Jewish and Moslem children, preserving the special atmosphere without monopolizing with only Jewish customs and songs on the one hand, and without trivializing the day on the other? The teachers found many Jewish blessings and songs, but nothing appropriate in Arabic. Our teacher then decided that in addition to traditional Jewish songs (such as “Lecha Dodi”, welcoming the Sabbath queen) and customs (such as candle lighting and challa baking) she would compose a blessing in Arabic that the children could all say together, as well as a song in Arabic describing the challa baking, which is the main activity in the kindergarten on Friday mornings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the mixed Arab Jewish kindergarten of Ein Bustan, in Hilf, Israel, the children gather in a circle to welcome the Sabbath together, a candle is lit, and they sing:
 
Ya raba kalina eishin basalaam
Nurek nur zrir fee albi sar kbir
Ya raba kalina eishin basalaam
 
Translation:
With God’s help we shall live in peace
Your light is small, but in my heart the light is great
With God’s help we shall live in peace
 
 
Ola says:”We stretch out our hands to the candle light and fill our hearts with light and love. The love, partnership and friendship give birth to new and wonderful creations in our lives, which we experience with happiness. Thus, we work together, both Arabs and Jews, kneading the dough, forming it into different shapes, sprinkling sesame seeds above, putting it in the oven…”
 
Ola has composed a special song in Arabic about preparation for the Sabbath, which is sung by all the children in the kindergarten.
 
Raif El Juma (Friday’s Bread*)
 
The rhythmic repetition and rhymes are lost in the translation, so I am including one verse in transliteration:
 
Badaii el halween - ajanto ajanto
Badaii el halween - rashito b’al samsam
Batnur el hami - chabazto chbazto
Hada raif el juma
Madwar umekamar
 
 
Translation:
With my two good hands I kneaded and kneaded
With my two good hands I sprinkled sesame seeds above
I baked it and baked it in a good hot oven
This is Friday’s sweet roll
Round and curved like the moon
 
Bit by bit I broke off small pieces to share in Ein Bustan (the name of our kindergarten)
Come taste it, taste it – how delicious it is!
And how pleasant it is to break bread together.
Now there is bread and salt between us**
Now there is peace amongst us.
Kindly bless us, our Grandmother Sarah
Kindly bless us, our Grandmother Hagar***
On this Friday
And on all days.
 
 
  • *The Jewish traditional bread for the sabbath is called “Challa”, Raif means a small bread or roll
  • ** “Bread and Salt between us” is an Arabic expression for friendship and peace
  • ***Sarah and Hagar were the two wives of Abraham, according to tradition Sarah’s son Isaac started the Jewish dynasty and Ishmael, Hagar’s son, started the Arabic dynasty. Share
 

 

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