by Pessy Roth
I remember the feeling of preparing my first Shabbos table on my own -- that precious feeling when I finished setting the table on Friday morning for the first time and stepped back to admire its beauty: it was so…well...Shabbos’dig. The royal Shabbos dishes and cutlery, the napkins perfectly perched in their goblets, the white freshness filling the room with light… But what really served as a centerpiece, the part that truly gave the special Shabbos feeling, was the beautiful white challah cover sitting proud and pristine at the head of the table. Ah…it was gorgeous!
Setting the Shabbos table really makes the whole home have that special Shabbos atmosphere- the crisp white tablecloth, beautiful table settings, napkins artfully presented, fresh flowers lekovod Shabbos kodesh… But what really gives it that special Shabbos feeling, is a beautiful, royal, magnificent challah cover.
Regal traditional challah cover vs. modern designs
My parents’ challah cover was the classic type -- black velvet with tassels along the edges, so for me, the beauty of a Shabbos table meant having a very regal-looking challah cover grace the table, so when I married, for me only a stately, pristine white challah cover would do. Of course beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and for others that might mean a traditional design enhanced with vibrant colors, Biblical motifs, Shabbos motifs, etc.
I wouldn't part with my white challah cover, but now I see why my parents had a black one: after much use, my challah cover is not as white as it used to be. Should I have opted from the start to use a nylon cover to keep it clean and user-friendly? Perhaps. The nylon obscures the richness and texture of the velvet, from a practical perspective is worth the compromise.
Of course if you stick with a dark base color, you may be able to have your challah and eat it too, i.e. skip the nylon cover without stains and smudges showing at all.
Pessy Roth is a born and bred Brit. She has recently moved to Israel, after her marriage, to start life in the Holy Land. What she loves most about Israel is the brotherly attitude among Israeli citizens.