Weekend at the Beach

In the Beginning, the friendship of three rabbis was created and nurtured at an annual Rabbis Without Borders alumni retreat.

My plan was to enjoy a Shabbat getaway and Sunday morning at the beach with Rabbi Rachael and her family. Having missed her daughter’s baby naming celebration, I was eager to visit before summer vacation surrendered to a new school year. When Rabbi Ruth, also free this weekend, offered to drive with me, I knew our time together would rejuvenate me and carry me to the next alumni retreat in February.

And on the seventh day, we rested.

As sundown approaches, we light candles and make blessings, we drink wine and eat Shabbat dinner. We share stories. Wondering what three rabbis discuss during a Shabbat getaway? When they are women, mothers, and Rabbis Without Borders, they discuss Torah and raising children, and they marvel at the all-female Bet Din gathered in friendship.

Suddenly, it occurs to one of the rabbis that she needs to assemble a Bet Din for a conversion. Her student is ready to formalize his commitment through immersion, and we are no more than a 15-minutes’ drive to the Atlantic Ocean. Why not conclude our weekend getaway and begin the new week with this sacred and joyous occasion? What we laughingly coined our “accidental bet din” is now intentional; we will officially convene on Sunday morning.

God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because the work of creation was finished.

Week after week, we celebrate and observe the Sabbath until three stars are visible in the sky on Saturday night. Each Saturday night, during the Havdalah service, we bless God who separates the holy from the ordinary. This week, however, the holiness of Shabbat spills over to a Sunday morning that is anything but ordinary.

The sun is high as we resume our sacred work of the new week — welcoming a new member of the Jewish People into our circle — and we sing and dance at the edge of the ocean: “Worship God in happiness! Come into God’s presence with joyful singing!” (Psalms 100:2)

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