At the Browns', Friday night is never a dry affair.
RUTH LITTMANN STAFF WRITER
(Translation: "That canned grub's pretty
When Mr. Brown returns home from work
tasty. And fowl isn't my favorite anyway. The on Friday nights, things really get started.
dry stuff? Oy vey. Let's just say, a week's Jacob opens a wooden cabinet, removes two
worth of matzah has exactly the same effect.") white candlesticks from the upper drawer
Jinx's owners began dating in 1988 and and presents them to his mother. He then re-
married about five years ago. Mr. Brown was trieves a can of "9 Lives Plus - Seafood Style"
reared a secular Jew but aims to include more from a cupboard beneath the oven and Mrs.
religion in his life. Karen, formerly Lutheran, Brown flips off the lid.
is a Jew-by-choice who attends services every
The cat meows loudly and melodically.
Saturday at Temple Israel.
Could this be Hamotzi? Tfeline style?
Maybe not. Jinx doesn't
stick around for blessings
FE. over the candles, wine and
challah. While the cat's head
remains buried in its food
c2-3, bowl, the human contingent
in the kitchen gathers 'round
the table and Mrs. Brown
strikes a match.
As the parents recite
prayers, Jacob's mouth forms
different shapes in what looks
like a sincere attempt to say
"Baruch atah ..." On occasion,
Mr. and Mrs. Brown have
heard their son murmur,
Although it's certainly not
traditional, the Browns be-
lieve the canned-food ritual is
an effective way of deepening
Jacob, their energetic 2-year-old, is learn- their son's religious connection. As residents
ing about his heritage hand-in-paw with Jinx. of Livonia, they have very few Jewish neigh-
Lessons go something like this: Sundays bors. The rabbi who helped with Mrs. Brown's
through Thursdays, the toddler knows he conversion recommended that she design the
must give his cat a bowl of crunchy, but some- Sabbath in a way that would become mean-
what bland, Purina Cat Chow.
ingful to her and her family.
Friday afternoons are reserved for chal-
Far from jinxing Shabbat, this black cat
lah-baking. Mrs. Brown and Jacob bustle has made Friday nights all the more special
around the kitchen preparing bread while at the Browns'. ❑
Jinx looks on, anticipating a savory feast.
Shabbat In A Box
Families open up to Shabbat through a JEFF program.
JILL DAVIDSON SKLAR STAFF WRITER
t started as a simple art project.
Four years ago, then-kindergartner
Zack Chutz attended a Shabbat program
at Temple Israel with his parents and de-
cided to stay for the arts-and-crafts seg-
ment, a portion of the event sponsored by
J ewish Experiences For Families.
First he was given a plain cardboard
cake box which he readily decorated
with blue magic marker, making swirling
designs. He also pasted copies of prayers
he created to the sides of the box. Then he
finished the project by filling the box
with mini-Shabbat symbols including two
wooden loaves of bread, fake candles, a
small wooden bottle and a cup filled with
purple cellophane to simulate wine.
"He did a good job with it," said his
mother, Debbie Brooks Chutz.
His family already had a tradition of ob-
serving Shabbat with challah, wine,
prayers and the lighting of candles. But af-
ter the Temple Israel/JEFF project, he had
his own set of Shabbat items.
"He was so proud," Mrs. Chutz said. "It
was something we did together as a fam-
ily and now he had a special part."
The Chutzes are among thousands who
PHOTO BY BILL HANSEN
[he stray black cat became a moth-
er early in life. She and her kittens
might have frozen in the Michi-
gan snow were it not for a big-
The man, from Holly, already owned
time cats. After defrosting his shivering
additions and nursing them back to
health, he found new homes for the kit-
tens. But when it came to their mother,
he was stuck.
David Brown, the Holly
man's friend, was living in De-
troit at the time. A bachelor
and student of computer sci-
ence, Mr. Brown worked for
General Motors and seemed
like the perfect guy to take on
the role of loyal pet owner.
So, logically, Mr. Brown got
Today, more than a decade
after the near-freeze, "Jinx"
weighs 11 pounds, sports an
ebony coat and has converted
to Judaism. Every Shabbat,
the Brown family — David,
Karen and Jacob — treat their
hungry feline to a dinner of
gourmet canned cat food -
rather than the ordinary dry
"Shabbat is for everybody. The cat should
have fun, too," Mrs. Brown explains. "The
only thing our cat likes to do is chase birds
and eat canned food. Well, I am not going to
supply the birds."
Jinx, who's simply grateful to be alive after
using up eight of her lives 10 winters ago, has
not complained about Shabbat-style victuals.
"ME-E-OW! Meow," she says.