Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blessing the Sabbath Candles

Bella Chirkova from Vinnitsa describes the process of lighting the Sabbath candles and talks about the personal prayers she usually says while lighting the candles.

Bella was born in 1912 in Krasni, in the Vinnitsa region. Her father was a rabbi and her grandfather was a cantor. In the clip, you can see the clear distinction Bella makes between men's and women's religious roles -- she initially is hesitant to tell the interviewers how she blesses the candles, because she insists that only women can perform this function (and the interviewers are male). 

When the interviewers ask Bella what blessing she says over the candles, rather than reciting the traditional formula, she explains that she asks G-d for what she needs, engaging in a very personal style of prayer. She speaks in Yiddish, asking for G-d's help, for her children's health, and so on. See also this post for a similar way that Avrom Gelman's mother prayed over the Sabbath candles in Kamenets-Podolsk.

--Asya Vaisman

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