What Dreams Are Made Of

What Dreams Are Made Of – Kislev (Jacob’s Story)

By: Dr. C Tova Markenson

As the nights expand and the days contract in the Northern Hemisphere, the Hebrew month of Kislev is upon us. Kislev is the month that harbors Hanukkah – a time of nurturing light. This year, Friendsgiving also happens to align with Kislev. 

For those who welcome Shabbat at sundown, the official Shabbat start time begins earlier and earlier. With less daylight, I find myself craving more sleep – when I can, I like to go to bed a little earlier on Friday nights or to sleep in a little later on Saturday mornings. The spirit of extra rest is perfect for Kislev, a month for dreaming.

Kislev: A Month for Dreams

Around this time of year, many read excerpts of the Torah that feature the dreams of several biblical figures. One of the mythic dreamers, Jacob, is in a difficult situation: he has deceived his father, cheated his brother, and now is on the run. Exhausted from running but with no shelter in sight, Jacob eventually stops to rest. With only a rock as a pillow, Jacob falls asleep. He dreams of a ladder ascending towards heaven, with angels flitting up and down the ladder’s rings. 

The next morning, Jacob wakes up. He says, “Ma Nora HaMakom Hazeh,” how awe-some is this place. 

What does this dream have to do with Shabbat?

Someone reading a book and using their finger to follow along
A person in a blue shirt laying down on a bed

Shabbat as Dreamscape

In the story of Jacob’s dream, change happens when Jacob stops running. He no longer is trying to fix, figure out, or avoid his circumstances. When Jacob finally rests, he receives a dream that transforms his perspective. 

This Shabbat, what might it be like to pay a little extra attention to your dreams?

This could take the form of sleeping in, taking a nap, or daydreaming; it could also take the form of something else that connects you to a state of wonder: Reading! Being in nature! Cuddling a pet! Making art! Calling a friend!

In honor of Kislev, consider integrating some dream-related prompts into your Shabbat dinner conversation: 

  • Who are the people in your life that inspire you to feel a little more dream-like awe? 
  • Is there anything that you have always dreamed of doing? 
  • Do you have any recurring dreams?

As you dream up hosting or guesting at an upcoming Shabbat dinner, share your thoughts with us on social @onetableshabbat.

Headshot of Tova Markenson, OneTable's Jewish Learning Consultant
Photography by Ted Ely, makeup by Jody Formica, and styled by Camille Mana.

About the Author

Tova Markenson, PhD (she/her) is the Jewish learning consultant and has been with OneTable since 2022. Her work grows out of 10+ years of experience and research in the fields of collaboration, communication, and creativity. She has designed and taught courses on mindfulness, storytelling, and Jewish history to non-profit professionals, rabbinical and cantorial students, young adults, and life-long learners.

OneTable empowers people who don’t yet have a consistent Shabbat dinner practice to build one that feels authentic, sustainable, and valuable. The OneTable community is funded to support people (21-39ish), not in undergraduate studies, and without an existing weekly Shabbat practice, looking to find and share this powerful experience.

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