Alvin Lever: Erev Shabbat Memories

Walking towards CBB on Erev Shabbat hearing “Shabbat Shalom” from those you know and those you don’t. And then the evening progresses from the Oneg, to services, sermon, to the wonderful Kiddush afterwards. Just close your eyes and I’m sure you can see, hear, and enjoy the memory.

I would like to take you back to my memory of Erev Shabbat as I was growing up, then after Norine and I were married. Then recently our activity as we are sheltered in place.

As I was growing up, every Friday began with my Mother and Baba baking challah, making gefilte fish or chopped liver and baking the chickens. Then as evening approached, I would join my Father, sisters, an aunt and two uncles to gather around Baba and my Mom for the Candle lighting, then Dad doing the Kiddush and the Motzi. And then dinner.

The Shabbat dinner expanded after Norine and I married and had Dan and Mike, and also included my sister Evelyn, her husband and four children, and my sister Marianne with her husband and two children. So the dinner grew from eight to 16+. Norine, when friends said, “You have to go to your in-laws every Friday night?” with a questioning look, would respond, “I actually love it. At the door, my two toddlers are grabbed up by their older cousins and off they go to rehearse whatever the group is planning for after dinner entertainment. It’s nice, quite special.”

Well that was all a staging for how we are celebrating on Erev Shabbat currently.

My two nieces who moved East from St. Louis, Helene in Brooklyn and Celia in NYC, have been doing Shabbat dinners together with their children, and they have now organized a Zoom Kiddush and Motzi for the whole family. This is a great opportunity as our family, which spreads from California, Denver, Chicago, St. Louis, Raleigh Durham, Boca Raton, Pittsburg, Hartford, to Washington DC.

So at 4:30pm PST we join them and we are joined by our sons and the other nieces, nephews, spouses, children and grandchildren. One very special Zoom introduced a newcomer, the 36 hour old attendee on Evev Pesach “Aviva,” Helene’s first grandchild. In addition to general family updates during the Motzi, we get to see challahs made with my Mother’s recipe, their Mothers’ recipes, and updated recipes.

It is with a lot of sweet memories that I then join CBB for Shabbat Zoom Services and those memories are very present for me amplifying the experience of lighting the Shabbos candles together with the CBB community on Zoom!


Alvin Lever is an architect with extensive experience in healthcare including CEO/EVP of the American College of Chest Physicians. He received lifetime achievement awards from ACCP and the American Association of Critical Nurses. He held numerous board positions in a Conservative Congregation, including President, and has been active in supporting Jewish, Israeli and healthcare issues/causes.