How to Observe Shabbat

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Shabbat is a time of peace and joy for Jews all over the world, and involves prayer, food and relaxation. It begins Friday night at sunset and ends when there are three stars visible in the sky Saturday evening.

Things You'll Need

  • Havdalah Candles
  • Shabbat Candles
  • Challahs
  • Grape Juices
  • Salt
  • Spice Boxes
  • Kiddush Wines
  • Wine Goblets

Friday Evening

  • Invite relatives or friends over for dinner, or just plan a special dinner with the family.

  • Light the Shabbat candles at sunset. Be sure to light at least two. The blessing over the candles, recited with eyes covered if desired, is: "Holy one of blessing, your presence fills creation, making us holy with your commandments and calling us to light the lights of Shabbat."

  • Pour a small glass of kiddush wine for everyone at the table. You may substitute grape juice for the children, if desired.

  • Make sure everyone holds the glass in his or her right hand and recite the following blessing together: "Holy one of blessing, your presence fills creation, forming the fruit of the vine." Drink the wine.

  • Distribute a small piece of challah to everyone at the table. Make sure everyone holds the piece in his or her right hand and recite the following blessing together: "Holy one of blessing, your presence fills creation, bringing forth bread from the earth." Eat the challah.

  • Eat dinner. Many families take this opportunity to talk about their week and catch up.

Saturday

  • Go to synagogue in the morning. If you live close enough to the temple, take a leisurely walk there instead of driving.

  • Listen to the Torah reading and the sermon for the week, and enjoy the sense of community in the temple.

  • Go home for a simple lunch and relax for the rest of the afternoon. This may mean staying home and taking a nap, taking a walk or riding a bike. Some people use this time to get together with family or friends or study the Torah reading of the week.

  • Celebrate the "havdalah" service when it is dark, to end Shabbat. You can go back to the synagogue for this, or celebrate it at home.

  • Light the special havdalah candle.

  • Fill a cup full of wine, hold it in your right hand, and recite the following blessing: "Holy one of blessing, your presence fills creation, forming the fruit of the vine." Don't drink it yet.

  • Recite the following blessing: "Holy one of blessings, your presence fills creation, making fragrant spices." Pass around a spice box or something else that smells sweet for everyone to smell, such as cinnamon sticks. This symbolizes a sweet upcoming week.

  • Recite the blessing over the havdalah candle: "Holy one of blessing, your presence fills creation, forming the lights of fire." Hold your hands over the warmth of the flame.

  • Recite the havdalah blessing: "Holy one of blessing, your presence fills creation, you separate the holy from the not-yet-holy, light from darkness, Israel from the other peoples, Shabbat from the other six days. Holy one of blessings, you separate the holy from the not-yet-holy."

  • Spill a small amount of the wine onto a plate, to symbolize the loss of Shabbat, and drink from the cup.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some hold the kiddush glass in the palm of the hand, with the fingers extending upward like a five-petaled rose, to show that this wine is for a special purpose.
  • Sprinkle the challah with salt if desired, as a reminder of tears and destruction. Some people also use their hands to break the challah apart in order to avoid using metal knives, as they are a reminder of war.

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