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In a Mall in Virginia

I happened to be wearing my kippah recently when I was in a shopping mall. A young girl working at one of the cart-like booths in the mall approached and asked me if I speak Hebrew. I told her I did but did not have any time to speak with her about whatever product it was that she was selling and that I wasn’t interested in buying anything from her.


She immediately reassured me that she was not interested in selling me anything.


She then proceeded to ask me in Hebrew, what time Shabbat begins, since it was Thursday.


After I told her, she explained to me that since she is inside the mall, she cannot know what time sunset is and when Shabbat begins. It was important to her to know since she does not smoke on Shabbat. This young Israeli girl, far away from home who violates Shabbat by working, selling and handling money on Shabbat, nevertheless knows that there are certain observances she maintains. Since the prohibition against making fire on Shabbat is such a fundamental one, it is her means of staying connected to her faith, heritage and family.


As I have always said, something is better than nothing.


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Stuart Weinblatt

Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt is the President of the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America. From 2009 - 2014 he served as Director of Israel Policy and Advocacy for the Rabbinical Assembly.
Rabbi Weinblatt is the rabbi of Congregation B'nai Tzedek in Potomac, Maryland, a vibrant Conservative synagogue of 650 families he founded in 1988, along with his wife and a handful of families.