They sat on my couch lined up like a row of boats in the harbor: boy, girl, boy, girl; six, eight, eleven and twelve respectively.
With the Shabbat candles lit, we sang the welcoming Sabbath hymn, I gave them each a hard cover siddur (prayer book), and together we created our home-centered Friday evening service.
“What prayer would you like to sing now?” I asked.
My four grandchildren have been singing and studying the Jewish liturgy since birth. Their parents celebrate Shabbat with them every Friday night, and the tunes and the words have been etched in their hearts and minds for years. How did I get so lucky to be witness to the next generation of Jewish youth?
As I listened to my grandchildren recite the prayers of our age-old religion, I realized that passing down the traditions of our ancestors is accomplished with one teaching moment at a time.
It may begin with a Jewish lullaby or the taste of a braided challah. The glow of the Sabbath candles or the recognition of a Hebrew letter. These are the sights, the smells, the sounds of our Jewish heritage.
I can see beyond this Shabbat and perceive a Jewish future where my four grandchildren are leading the way.