Seattle family combines Jewish, Native traditions with emphasis on prayer, giving
This U-District family honors traditions of charitable giving all year long
Edward Krigsman, Brooke Pinkham and Abraham celebrate Shabbat with a special bank called a Tzedakah box.
PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON
For Brooke Pinkham, her husband, Edward Krigsman, and their 5-year-old son, Abraham, this month involves a lot of different holidays.
Pinkham grew up celebrating Christmas with her Native American family and Krigsman was raised Jewish. So they celebrate Christmas in Yakima with Pinkham’s family, and observe Hanukkah by lighting a menorah and eating oily foods (like latkes) with Krigsman’s family.
But their biggest holiday takes place beyond just the month of December — it happens every week of the year. The University District family celebrates Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath.
The couple says their week, centered on this special holiday, is kind of like a wheel. The six spokes are the days of the week, and each is hooked into the important centerpiece, which is Shabbat.
In the days leading up to the holiday, the couple makes their Friday evening Shabbat plans, determining whether they will host the event or attend a friend or family members’ gathering.
Wherever they decide to have it, the evening will always revolve around a special dinner. Krigsman says if it’s at their home, they try to make something they likely wouldn’t eat during the rest of the week, such as salmon.
They also never make any other plans on Friday evening, and always keep their devices turned off during the holiday.
“We never have anything that overschedules it, which is a relief,” says Krigsman. “We know exactly what we’re doing at least one day a week.”
One of the main elements of their holiday tradition involves the family coming together to say a prayer and make a donation to charity.
Abraham has a special bank with his name on it, called a Tzedakah box; Tzedakah means “justice” or “charity” in Hebrew. Every Friday, he puts money into it. Once a year, usually on Abraham’s birthday, he picks a charity, to which the family donates the money.
In fact, giving — whether to charity or a thoughtful present — is an important part of all of their December holiday traditions. Pinkham said that has roots in Native culture, where every type of big life event involves giving.
“In the Native culture we do a lot of giveaways, and so we make it very meaningful,” says Pinkham. “What’s coming from us is something that’s a part of us coming to you.”
How we celebrate: Meet more families and hear about their holidays