Bringing Shabbat to a Muslim Village

I grew up with my Jewish mother in the very Jewish suburb of Bondi and only started a relationship with my Indonesian father and siblings about 6 years ago. Although I grew up in a very Jewish area, I had left that path around my teenage years and only returned to my Judaism this year.

My father and half siblings are all Muslim. They live in a Muslim country, they go to the mosque, and yet they are very accepting and respectful of their Jewish sister. I had started keeping Shabbos shortly before my departure to Indonesia this year and so I had made sure to learn how to make my own challah and brought some candlesticks.

The town where my family lives in Indonesia is 100% Muslim. Throughout the day it is so common to hear the Muslim call to prayer I don’t even notice it anymore. My brother’s mother is French and lives in the ‘Kampung’ (the village). When I asked her if I could make Shabbos in her house, she was very intrigued and offered to help.

We went to the local market to buy the ingredients for the challah. When we got back to her house to begin making it, I realised she doesn’t have an oven... I hadn’t even thought about that part! Having an oven is a staple part of a kitchen isn’t it? Not in Indonesia apparently. No one in the entire village seemed to have an oven and this was a problem. We tried to think of alternative ways to bake the bread – I even suggested digging a hole in the ground and trying a Polynesian ‘hangi’ style. She suddenly remembered that she had a tin box (it had not been used for many years) and so we cleaned it thoroughly and gave it a go. We put it on the stove and lit the gas underneath it. I showed her how to braid the dough and it was a lot of fun. I took a small piece of the dough and said the bracha on the challah and we placed the challot on a tray in the tin box.

We had a meal ready, a challah in the oven, the candlesticks, but what of the wine? I hadn’t thought about that! They don’t sell wine anywhere around this village and I didn’t know what to do Kiddush over. I quickly messaged my friend in Sydney, and she told me I could do it over beer or suggested squashing some grapes into a shot glass enough to fill the entire glass.

My father took me to the market to buy some grapes but they weren’t selling nice ones at the time. We drove around on his bike looking for another place that sold grapes and finally we came across a man by the side of the road who was selling the freshest plumpest grapes I have ever seen. I bought all he had. I took them back to the house and put them in the fridge. We checked on the challah and it was perfect. We took the grapes and put them in the blender and then squished them through a sieve. There was enough grape juice to fill the beautiful crystal glass she had brought out especially for Shabbos plus an entire pitcher.

The sun was starting to go down and the mosque was beginning its call to prayer right next door. I was worried that I would be doing the Kiddush with the background noise and hoped it would end before I needed to begin. The time came to light the candles and right as we gathered together at the table, the mosque became silent again. We came to the table and I lit the candles. I said Kiddush and we enjoyed the freshest grape juice I have ever tasted, and the softest challah which was still warm from the tin box. We enjoyed the meal together and everyone commented on how nice the experience was. My brother’s mother was so pleased with our beautiful Shabbos dinner; she even told me how she would love to do it every Friday night!



  1. Kartini you are so inspiring! Thank you for sharing this story and elevating the sparks in Indonesia!

  2. Kartini this is such an amazing experience! Thanks for sharing it ;)

  3. I love this story every time I hear it! You're such an inspiration!

  4. Wow... Kartini, I think i love you. That is all. Goodbye.

  5. it was an unforgottable night..all together around the table..jewish muslim and christian one heart....thanx Kartini for this shabbat. every friday i think of you..;)

  6. UTTERLY BEAUTIFUL! Thanks for sharing this story. Truly touching.

  7. Pshhhhhhh, beautiful - kol hakavod! May this be the sign of a malach that the world-to-come, a world of Shabbat EVERYDAY, is soon, please G-d. The Lubavitcher Rebbe said with each mitzvah we make in this world earns us more merit for the coming of Moshiach - like we are increasingly tipping the balance of the world towards the good, "outweighing" the forces of evil we contend with. ...Much inspiration and gratitud

  8. What a Kiddush Hashem! You brought tears to my eyes!

  9. Just because they've been nice to the Jewish girl - may I suggest - she pack her bags, get her mother on board - and get the heck out. How long will these niceities continue? Who knows, but they don't last too long. I wouldn't trust Arabs, nor should even their relatives.

  10. Dear Frank: I think you need to get your facts straight. Not all Muslims are ARAB! With all the hate in this world cant you just accept that there is some peace out there. You should just appreciate the story for what it is.

  11. Yeah also Indonesian Muslims are very close with the Jewish Community and have been for years. Stop perpetuating stereotypes. Don't you hate when people do it to Jews. You don't need to act like a monster like the rest of the Hate Mongers too.

  12. From the wisom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the world is not a reasonable place.

    Meet it on its own terms: when you do something good, do it beyond reason.

    Have emunah and bittachon and DO Hashem's will and desire (to serve Him), beyond what SEEMS unreasonable. Go beyond the external, like Kartini and her family. My friend, there's a bigger plan outside of our comprehension and self - Moshiach/the World-to-Come... merit it now!

  13. BS"D

    WOW.....we are proud to have one great woman like you.....kol hakavod, shalom from Jewish Community of Indonesia

  14. let us not be SO particular about what is entering our minds and mouths, that we are completely unaware about what is coming out..

  15. Kartini- That was a beautiful and inspirational story.

    Just to follow up, you can make kiddush on challah all by itself Friday night if you don't have wine, and that is preferable to making kiddush on beer or vodka. But fresh squeezed grape juice also works perfectly well. (And beer and vodka are fine for shabbat day kiddush, even if you have wine.)

  16. thank you for sharing a fragment of your spiritual journey with all of us~ keep bringing light into the world! x

  17. יִהְיוּ לְרָצֹון | אִמְרֵי-פִי וְהֶגְיֹון לִבִּי לְפָנֶיךָ יְהוָה צוּרִי וְגֹאֲלִי:
    Let the words of my mouth, and meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. 19:14

    Wow!! That is such a touching story. And I agree With your comments Kartini !
    Never allow a person to tell you No who doesn't have the power to say Yes...
    Only with Emuna we can achieve true happiness, which will pave the way to a wonderful world of peace and tranquility.
    You are truly an ispiration and I am so proud!


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