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February 02, 1990 - Image 71

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-02-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Preparing A Special Treat For The Birds On Shabbat Shirah

As a little boy, many years ago,
I lived with my family in a small
town in Europe. This village was
mostly inhabited by Jews, and the
synagogue was the center of
everything: religion, culture and yes,
family life, too. We shared life's joys
and its sadness. Every happy event,
every Shabbat and holy day,
became a celebration for everyone.
No wonder every Friday there was
such a hustle and bustle in town;
every household was busy
preparing for Shabbat. My sisters
had to help our mother with all the
chores to get ready for the Holy
Shabbat. The boys usually had it
pretty easy. We were only busy
getting ourselves prepared, and this,
of course, made the girls angry. But
there was one exception to the rule:
the Friday before Shabbat Shirah.
Shabbat Shirah, the Sabbath of
Song, is one of the special
Shabbatot of the year. On the
Sabbath after Tu Bishevat the Song
of the Red Sea is read from the
Torah, and so it is called Shabbat
Shirah. The legend tells us that on
that particular day, the birds return
from their winter home in a warmer
climate. On that day all the children
in our town welcomed our friends
The boys were charged with the
responsibility of preparing a special
treat for those birds on Shabbat
Shirah. On that Friday we were
excused from school to go to a
nearby town to buy a certain grain
called kasha, a roasted buckwheat.
(Even to this day kasha is a
delicacy in many Jewish homes,
enjoyed as a special treat.) Once
back home, we placed the kasha in
a big pot, poured sweetened hot

water over it and let it soak until all
the water was absorbed. To this
mush we added a challah baked in
a special way by my mother. The
challah had to have a very hard
crust, so that it could crumble
easily. The tiny pieces of challah
were mixed with the kasha, and
then put in small dishes. Before
Mother lit the Shabbat candles, my
sisters and I would put the dishes
outside the windows and on the
bench in front of our house. The
next day after we returned from shul
(synagogue) with Father, we would
eat our Shabbat meal. Then we
were free to watch the birds enjoy
their treat. We also wtched the
plates outside our neighbors'
windows. We wanted to see whose
mixture attracted the most birds. We
never talked about this rivalry, but it
was there every year.

Shabbat Shirah was particularly
free for the boys in our town. We
were excused from the Shabbat
study session, when our fathers
would quiz us to see how well we
learned the Torah portion. But for
me there was more to make this
Shabbat special: my father was
always given the honor of chanting
the Shirah during both the
Shacharit Service and the Torah
reading. I was allowed to stand next
to him as he recited the Song in its
especially beautiful melody. I was
always so proud and promised
myself that I would learn to chant
the Shirah myself one day. And so
today, it is I who chant the Shirah in
my synagogue. Then I come home
to watch the birds on Shabbat

Reprinted with permission of JNF.

Here are some ideas for an
easy-to-make bird feeder .. .

Take a pine cone that has opened.
Put peanut butter (or a mixture of
peanut butter and corn meal) on the
cone and hang it from a tree
branch. Make a simple shelf feeder.
Attach twigs around the edges of a
board. Put out breadcrumbs,
sunflower seeds, kasha (buckwheat),
rice or peanuts.

. . . or an easy-to-buy bird

Make a feeder or house from a kit.
Vitos Products (17808 Tourny Rd.
Los Gatos, California 95030) has

Remember: If you are going to
start feeding birds, don't stop
until springThe birds will depend
on your food. When the weather
gets warm, give them a bird bath

When gardening is for the
birds . . .

Another way to feed the birds is to
plant trees and shrubs. For a list of
bird species and the trees they like
(as well as other bird-feeding do's
and don'ts) see Attracting and
Feeding Birds, a pamphlet by the
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Go to
your local Government book store or
write to the Superintendent of
Documents, U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, D.C.


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