Shabbat Shalom: Marking a New Chapter

Mar 23, 2023 | Article

Shabbat Shalom: Marking a New Chapter

Mar 23, 2023

By: Bethany Friedlander
PJ Library Manager

The end of a chapter in our bedtime book ritual signifies the conclusion of a piece of the story and a time to say goodnight. Sometimes, we want (or need) a few more pages so we fudge the chapter lines and add a little more or we stop a little early so as not to get to the scary part. The next evening, we begin a new chapter (or pick up from where we left off), expecting some of the story to take up from where we left off and new pieces to come into play.  

Last week we finished the last chapter of Exodus/Shemot and we start this week with a new book of the Torah, Leviticus/Vayikra. We make a slight shift from the details of building the tabernacle to details of sacrifices. We say “Chazak, Chazak V’nitchazeik” (Be strong, be strong, and we will strengthen one another), go to bed, and then scroll to a new chapter and continue reading.  

How do we choose and mark our own new chapters? Unlike our bedtime book or Torah, we, and the people around us, are the authors of each of these chapter endings and new beginnings.  

I recently celebrated a birthday. A friend who has been part of every chapter of my life here in Colorado arrived in the evening with a cute bag filled with goodies from a recent trip. In this goodie bag, besides the delicious fancy chocolate, there contained a hand-made bracelet from her daughter and an airplane snack mix bag. We aren’t talking just pretzels but the whole gambit of pub-type mix and I was loving it – literally and figuratively having people to mix things up adds to the suspense, complexity and excitement of beginning new chapters. To add to this thoughtful (and funny) addition to me getting older, my parents came to have dinner and asked me how old I was. I was certain I knew but was reminded that I was actually one full year younger than I had the impression I was turning. So I start this new birth year with an entire extra year, snacks, and time to try out some new chapters.  

Sometimes the ends and beginnings of chapters are written for us. Other times we get to choose them for ourselves. Sometimes it is a snack mix of our choices or the choices of those around us. I like getting a say in where those chapters end at bedtime – or those evenings that we deserve a few more pages. May we find those moments and people who help us write each of our unique chapters and may they be filled with good dreams. 

Shabbat Shalom, Colorado.

Please email Bethany Friedlander at with questions or comments.