ADD A BIT OF SHABBAT TO YOUR LIFE - FRIDAY NIGHT 
   



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ADD A BIT OF SHABBAT TO YOUR LIFE -
FRIDAY NIGHT....

Celebrating Shabbat is meant to bring peace, joy and beauty into your life - and refreshment to your soul.

Shabbat is a great institution.  You work hard all week and then, come Friday evening, you stop rushing about and instead you turn away from the noise and blare of the Real World and pull in towards a deeper, quieter, more contemplative time - you rest and relax and enjoy and partake of ancient prayers and rituals, great ideas and ideals and share meals with warm, good people - such as your family and friends. 

Here are a few suggestions for simple things you can do to start bringing the beauty of Shabbat into your life. We suggest starting with just a few of these practices - the simplest and most appealing to you at this time.  Then add more as you feel like it - one step at a time.  

First, during Friday afternoon recognize - remember - that Shabbat is coming. Shabbat starts at sundown on Friday evening. Itís a special time - a holy time. You leave your cares and woes behind you as you enter into this special time period. In fact itís said that you enter a "gate" of holiness. Thatís so lovely, isn't it?

On the simplest level, you're going to start with sharing a lovely Friday evening Shabbat meal with family and friends.  You can add more traditions and rituals as you learn more and want to deepen your experience of Shabbat. 

(Once you become "expert" at this, you can invite new people you meet in the Synagogue to join you.  That's when it becomes really fun and interesting...)

Here are some simple things you can do to create the atmosphere for Shabbat holiness to come into your life. 

(* Asterisk marks steps that are somewhat more of a stretch.)   

  • Before Friday, clean the house so it sparkles - or, at least, itís cleaner than it was.
  • Invite family and friends for Shabbat dinner. 
  • How about dressing up a bit?  You want to be comfortable but you also want to wear something nice - maybe a bit special. 
  • At sundown on Friday light the Shabbat candles.  (*Check the times for candlelighting for your area.) 
  • Here is the prayer to say while lighting candles:  Baruckh Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Meleckh HaOlam, Asher Kid'shanu B'Mitzvotov, Vitzivanu Leckhadlickh Ner Shel Shabbat. (*When you're ready, learn the prayer by heart.  It's not hard.)
  • Make a special meal.  Chicken is traditional but not required.  (*Make it a Kosher chicken. Most supermarkets have them in the frozen section.) 
  • On Friday evening, consciously leave your weekday cares and woes behind and wish everyone "Shabbat shalom."   And they should then wish you, in turn, "Shabbat Shalom" - or, more traditionally, "Good Shabbos."
  • Enjoy some true peace and quiet:  Turn off the tv, radio and stereo! (or whatever they call it these days.)
  • Set the dinner table so it looks nice - pleasing to your eye. Pull out the good stuff - a tablecloth, china and crystal if youíve got it, maybe some fresh flowers - or whatever is pleasing and "fancy" to you. After all - itís SHABBAT! - a very special day - and YOUíRE the one who is going to create the SPACE AND TIME for that specialness to come forth.  
  • Avoid discussing unpleasant, crass or commercial topics during Shabbat.  Once itís Shabbat itís time to think "higher" thoughts - about your Jewish heritage, the beauty of Jewish traditions, the beauty of the universe created by G-d, ethical issues, moral behavior - higher issues. 
  • *Donít go shopping, donít handle money, donít conduct business until Shabbat ends, one hour after sundown, when you can see three stars in the sky. (Isnít that poetic?)
  • You might want to go to synagogue Friday evening.  
  • *Find out what the Parsha (Torah portion) of the week is.  (*Get out your Chumish (Torah book) and read it over in preparation.) 
  • Try these beautiful traditional Shabbat rituals: 
  • 1.  Traditionally the men don yamalka's (kippot) (head coverings) before gathering at the table. 
  • 2.  As everyone gathers at the table for the meal, sing the song, "Sholem Aleichem."  It's a lovely, cheerful song about Angels and Peace that helps to usher in the spirit of the Sabbath. 
  • 3.  Say a simple Kiddish while standing and holding up a glass of Kosher wine:  Baruckh Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Meleckh HaOlam, Borey Pree HaGofen.  (*More advanced:  Say the Friday night Kiddish - a bit longer while holding a FULL cup of wine.  Or better yet, sing it.) 
  • 3.  *Say the blessing over your children.  There's one prayer for boys and another for girls. 
  • 4.  *Before cutting into the Challah, ritually wash hands.  Each person goes to the sink and takes a cup and pours a bit of water over his/her right hand wrist - three times - then the left hand wrist, three times, while saying this prayer:  Baruckh Atah Adonai Elockheinu Meleckh HaOlam Asher Kid'Shanu B'mitzvotov Vitzivanu Al Nitilat Yadaiyim."  After the prayer is said, it is customary to remain silent until everyone has finished washing hands AND the Motzi prayer has been said over the challah and the challah has been distributed and tasted.  This silence helps to connect the act of washing hands (purification) with the blessing over the bread that follows it.  (It's nice to have the silence and a bit of a challenge, too - which we find enjoyable.)
  • 5.  Say the blessing over the challah (or bread) while holding TWO loaves of bread (or two rolls) together.  (This is because in the Torah God provided DOUBLE the manna for Shabbat.)  Here is the prayer:  Baruckh Atah Adonai Eloheinu Meleckh HaOlam HaMotzi Leckhem Min Ha'aretz.  Cut the bread and distribute a small piece to each person, who eats it.  Traditionally a corner of each slice is first dipped in a bit of salt - as salt was once a great luxury.  (It is also reminiscent of the sacrifices that were burned at the Temple, as salt was used ritually in those.)  Once you've tasted the bread, you may speak freely and enjoy your meal!

A traditional Friday evening meal often has these components:

  • An appetizer course with Israeli-type salads such as chomos (mashed chick pea spread) with pita bread, olives and pickles, fresh veggies like cherry tomatoes, celery, carrots, etc.  Sometimes there's also Babaganoush (mashed eggplant spread) and other salad-y, appetizer-type foods.  (Many of these are available, ready-made and Kosher, in little plastic containers in supermarkets today.)  
  • Soup (and the challah you broke earliler).  Could be chicken with matzoh balls or dumplings or noodles - but not necessarily.  Whatever kind of soup you'd like. 
  • Salad - if you'd like. 
  • Main dish with veggies and potatoes or rice, etc...
  • Dessert and tea or coffee.

During dinner you should try to keep the conversation ELEVATED.  That is, you try to avoid nasty tales about other people, bad news, negative or upsetting topics and certainly truly-tasteless jokes - which are totally inappropriate and should not be tolerated.  You might want to focus on the Torah Parsha and the lessons contained in it, or you might want to discuss some current events (the ones that are not too depressing!) - or you might want to focus on religious ideas - perhaps comment on something you've read - whatever is appealing and appropriate to a Shabbat dinner. 

This should be a happy time for the family to gather together.  Best not to criticize the children or give harsh lessons or have big family arguments.  Better to use this time to praise the children for the things they did well during the week.  Perhaps make a special point of commemorating birthdays and accomplishments.  The idea is to create a lovely event that the family looks forward to each week.   

During the meal you can sing some Jewish songs. Maybe learn a new song - or teach your children a song they don't know.  Singing really brings out the warmth and goodness of Shabbat.  You just feel so much better after you've sung a pretty song together.   

*After the meal you can try the Birkat Hamazot or, in Yiddish, Bentching - which is elaborate, ancient prayers said (and sung) at the end of the meal.  Takes about 6 or 7 minutes to go through them.  You can find these prayers in little books called Bentchers, that are often given out at religious weddings and bar mitzvahs.  It's easiest to experience Bentching with others who do it regularly.  That way you will start to pick up the tunes and see how it's done.  It's not something you can easily teach yourself - but it's great fun once you know the tunes and can get into it.  Another challenging part of Jewish observance - that pays dividends when you master it. 

Enjoy your lovely dinner - enjoy your guests - enjoy your time together on Shabbat.  Go to bed feeling refreshed and renewed. 

(Try not to break the "spell" by turning on the tv as you go to bed!...)

And do it all again NEXT Friday evening!.... (That's the beauty of it - the repetition - so that it becomes a special weekly family event - something you all look forward to - something that helps to bond you as a family - that's loaded with happy memories your children can look back on when they're adults - memories they will want to replicate with their own families.)

(If you can't do it every Friday evening, do it every other Friday - or whenever you can....)

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SHALOM! WELCOME! (HOME)  |  SPONSOR A KEHILLAH AD!  |  OUR MISSION - OUR PLAN  |  NON-DENOMINATIONAL?  |  THE DEVALUATION OF JUDAISM  |  SHOP KEHILLAH! BOUTIQUE  |  18 REASONS WHY IT'S GREAT TO BE JEWISH  |  18 WAYS TO DEEPEN YOUR JUDAISM  |  THE ONE JEWISH RITUAL FOR YOUR FAMILY...  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT SHABBAT?  |  ADD A BIT OF SHABBAT TO YOUR LIFE - FRIDAY NIGHT  |  ADD A BIT OF SHABBAT TO YOUR LIFE - SATURDAY  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT SYNAGOGUE?  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT READING HEBREW?  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT KEEPING KOSHER?  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT JEWISH PRAYER?  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT ISRAEL?  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT MARRYING JEWISH?  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT ORGANIZED RELIGION?  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT "ANCIENT"...  |  WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT PRESERVING JUDAISM?  |  NOT A BELIEVER?  |  THINGS YOU LOVE ABOUT BEING JEWISH  |  YOUR OBJECTIONS - THINGS YOU HATE!  |  ARE YOU A SINGLE PARENT?  |  ARE YOU CREATIVE?  |  ARE YOU "MIXED?"  |  SMALL PLEASURES...  |  GOOD STORIES  |  THE "WOMAN" ISSUE  |  OUR BOLD RADICAL PROPOSAL...  |  ADVERTISE TO EDUCATE!  |  OUR PRO-JUDAISM AD CAMPAIGN  |  KEHILLAH RADIO & TV  |  THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR JUDAISM...  |  JEW VS. JEW  |  PASSOVER - ONE THING YOU CAN DO...  |  Shrek on Judaism!  |  Mel Brooks - On Being a Jew  |  Kirk Douglas: Why Be Jewish?  |  Rabbi Harold Kushner  |  Joe McCain on The Jews & Israel  |  American Presidents and The Jews  |  KEHILLAH is dedicated to...  |  LINKS TO Jewish Organizations, Charities & Websites  |  CONVERSION TO JUDAISM  |  GILLIE'S RECIPES  |  JEWISH HUMOR  |  NY TIMES: BRING BACK SHABBAT! PERSONAL STORY...  |  DO YOU HAVE INSOMNIA?  |  Contact Information  |  YOUR FEEDBACK PLEASE!  |  TO HELP SUPPORT KEHILLAH

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