Shabbat for Families
How to make Shabbat your family's favorite day of the week.
Preparing for and celebrating Shabbat can be a daunting proposition. There are so many things to do even just to prepare, and if you have children, the prospect of celebrating Shabbat (meant to be joyous and relaxing) for even one hour, let alone 25, can seem preposterous.
Don’t give up. This day-long marathon can be packed with marvelous family traditions and special opportunities for fun. Instead of making a radical change in the way your family observes Shabbat, make it gradual. Try some of these tips below and make Shabbat a truly special day for your family.
Shabbat Shalom – Spreading Light
Shabbat. Shabbos. The Sabbath.
Once a week, each Friday around sundown, my family gathers to light two candles. The light generated by these candles is symbolic of spiritual energy. It signals to us that the day of rest is here. It is time for us to pause and reflect on our week, and on our inner spiritual lives. We break bread (challah), share a home-cooked meal as a family, and disconnect from our daily routine in order to connect with a deeper, more important energy.
We look forward to Shabbat. In this energetic, frenetic world where negativity abounds, Shabbat is like the ultimate spiritual reset.
How To Host A Stress-Free Shabbat Meal, Step By Step
So you want to host your first Shabbat dinner or lunch and you’re shaky on the logistics? Perhaps you didn’t grow up with the tradition but would like to start a Friday night custom to gather with friends after a long week. Maybe you’ve graduated from college and are living on your own for the first time and want to continue the customs you practiced at home or learned at Hillel or Chabad — or start your own traditions.
Great news: I’ve been in your shoes, have made the mistakes, and can offer suggestions for how to entertain on Shabbat without too many hiccups.
Shabbat Blessings for Friday Night
Lighting the candles, saying Kiddush and other Shabbat dinner rituals.
Like most Jewish observances, Shabbat has a unique liturgy that is recited during communal prayer. But there are also a number of blessings that are traditionally recited in the home on Friday evening.
The lighting of candles as sunset approaches on Friday is the traditional sign of the arrival of Shabbat. After lighting the candles, it is customary to cover the eyes and recite the following:
בָּרוּך אַתָּה אַדָנָי אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם אַשֶׁר קִדְשָנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶל שַבָּת
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.
I’m Not Keeping Shabbat This Week
There are some weeks when I just can’t deal with Shabbat.
I spend the whole week living like a pinball; bouncing and ricocheting through life. By the week’s end, the last thing I need is someone telling me how to relax.
Shabbat gets in the way all the time. Sometimes it’s because of my intense workload, or an event with friends I’m missing, or how nice it would be to just binge-watching TV.
I don’t work a nine-to-five, and my income is reliant on how hard I can push myself. When deadlines are crunched, an extra twenty-five hours is a major difference in what I could be accomplishing.