In Genesis, the first book of the Torah, we learn that God
created the world in 6 days and that on the 7th day, Shabbat, He rested. We also
learn about Shabbat from the fourth commandment: "Six days shall you labor and
do all your work. But the 7th day is a Shabbat to the Lord, Your God. You shall
not do any manner of work for the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it
Shabbat is a time to take a break, a time set aside for
family and friends. Shabbat gives us time to reflect upon the world around us
and end the electronic bombardment of our senses. Shabbat allows us to bring
holiness into our rushed lives. It is a proactive move to create a special time.
We cook special foods, wear special clothes, and invite guests.
From the time one begins Shabbat preparations until sundown
on Saturday night there are many opportunities for celebrations and ceremonies
that may appeal to your entire family. In this handout, we will describe a
number of such practices.
Keep in mind that these rituals are not an end in
themselves. Rather, they should facilitate a shift in personal consciousness by
breaking life s normal routines. Rituals should enable you to enjoy, and be
aware of, your most basic but precious blessings.
Remember, also, that Shabbat is not an "all or nothing"
proposition. The important thing is to take the first step and begin to make
this a special day.
A FESTIVE ATMOSPHERE
friends or family for a Friday night dinner or Saturday afternoon meal
Cook your family s
If you don t have time
to cook, order or buy special foods
Learn how to bake
challah, and encourage your children to participate
Clean and beautify your
Put a fresh tablecloth
on your dinner table
Arrange some flowers
around your home
Put on your favorite
SHABBAT AS A FAMILY
Wednesday, choose the menu with your children
Thursday, go grocery shopping for Shabbat with them
challah with your children
your children make a special drawing or craft project for Shabbat
Include your children in as many Shabbat rituals as possible
- If you child has made a Kiddush cup or a challah cover in Hebrew school, make
sure you use that one!
songs at the dinner table
off the television and enjoy one another
your child s favorite games on Shabbat to show them it is a special day
time together as a family on Saturday: read, rest, or take a walk
a game or simple questions to springboard interesting discussions
EREV SHABBAT TRADITIONS
According to Genesis, light was the first thing God
created. Just as the creation of the world was initiated by light, so too is
Shabbat, as befits the celebration of creation (six days God worked creating the
world, and on the seventh He rested).
We usher in Shabbat before sunset, with the candle-lighting
ritual. Traditionally, women light candles. Young children love to be present
for this moment.
Two candles is the standard, but many families light one
candle for each member of their household. First, light the candles.
Make three sweeping, circular motions over the flames, then
rest your hand on your eyes. This gesture represents drawing the ugh of Shabbat
With your hands over your eyes, say the following blessing:
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam, asher kideshanu
bemitzvotav vetzivanu lehadlik ner shel Shabbat
Blessed are you Adonai our God, ruler of the universe, who
has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to kindle the light
You may take some time here for personal prayers.
Blessing the Children Y
Blessing your children can be a very special moment. Before
beginning Shabbat dinner, take a moment and lay your hands on your child s head
and give the gift of your blessing. You can use the traditional words below, or
you can bless your children in whatever way you wish. Think in terms of your
personal prayers for your child s well-being, protection and growth.
This is a custom, a tradition, not a commandment. The
traditional blessing is based on the biblical blessings Jacob tendered to his
grandchildren (Joseph s sons) Ephraim and Menasseh.
In many homes, it is also customary for the husband to read
a special Psalm to his wife, one that recognizes how special she is.
blessing for a boy is:
Yesimcha Elohim k Efraim ye
May God make you like Ephrain
blessing for a girl is:
Yesimech Elohim k Sarah,
Rivka, Rachel v Leah
May God make you like Sarah,
Rebecca, Rachel and Leah
then we add for both boys and girls:
Yaer Adonai panav elecha
Yissa Adonai panav elecha,
v yassem lecha shalom
May the Lord bless you and
May the Lord show favor and
be gracious to you;
May the Lord show you
kindness and grant you peace.
The Shabbat meal is preceded by the reciting of Kiddush,
the sanctification of Shabbat over wine. In Jewish life, wine is a symbol for
joy. The Kiddush describes Shabbat as a commemoration of both the universal
(Creation of the World) and the particular (God s redemption of Israel from
Egypt). One might ask - What does the Exodus from Egypt have to do with Shabbat?
Only a people who are free can have a day of total rest.
In most families, the Kiddush is recited by the father.
There is an introductory part which comes from the Torah (beginning of chapter 2
of Genesis), and then goes onto the more well-known Friday night Kiddush:
Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam, bore p ri
hagafen (all say Amen).
Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam, asher kidshanu
bemitzvotav veratzavanu b Shabbat kodsho beahava uv ratzon hinhilanu zikaron
lemaase bereshit. Ki hu yom tehila le mikraei kodesh zecher litziyat Mitzrayim.
Ki vanu bacharta veotanu kidashta mikol haamim b Shabbat kodshecha beahava
uvratzon hinchaltanu. Baruch Ata Adonai mekadesh haShabbat (all say Amen, then
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, king of the universe,
creator of the fruit of the vine (all say Amen).
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, king of the universe, who
sanctified us with His commandments. Lovingly You have favored us with the gift
of Your holy Shabbat as our inheritance, a reminder of Creation, first among the
sacred days which recall the Exodus from Egypt. You have chosen us for Your
service, and given us a sacred purpose in life. In loving favor, You have given
us Your holy Shabbat as a heritage. Praised are You God, who sanctifies the
Shabbat (all say Amen).
Blessing over the Challah Y
There is a special ritualistic washing of the hands that is
done in more traditional homes after Kiddush and before the blessing over the
challot. When this is not done, we proceed straight from the Kiddush to blessing
Challot (the Hebrew plural of challah) are the braided
loaves traditionally eaten on Shabbat. We bless two challot at every meal to
commemorate the double portion of mannah that would fall from Heaven every
Friday when the Jews were wondering in the desert.
Uncover the challot. Hold the two challot together, then
recite the following blessing:
Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech haolam hamotzi lechem mm
ha -a retz
Blessed are You Adonai, our God, ruler of the universe, who
draws bread from the earth.
blessing reminds us of the source of our food, and is a good way to remind our
children to be thankful for what they take for granted.
Blessing and Songs Y
After the Shabbat meal, Birkat HaMazon is recited. This
blessing is not particular to Shabbat, but one that is recited every time one
eats a meal with bread. The blessing gives thanks for the land and its bounty,
and for God's goodness in feeding all creatures. Below is a translation of the
first section of this long blessing.
Blessed are You Adonai, our God, ruler of the universe, who
sustains the entire world with goodness, kindness and compassion. God gives food
to all creatures, for God's compassion is everlasting. Through God's abundant
goodness we have never yet been in want; may we never be in want of sustenance
for the sake of God's great name. For God is a God who sustains all, does good
to all, and provides food for all God's creatures which He has created. Blessed
are You Adonai, who provides food for all.
After the blessing, it is customary to engage in communal
singing. Traditionally families sing Hebrew songs that are specific to
Shabbat. Singing increases the sense of festivity around the dinner table. Try
some of the songs your children know and love. Ask your children to teach you
the songs they ve learned in Hebrew school. It makes them feel very important.
Written and Collected by