Shabbat – Sabbath

Imagine having a sacred holiday every week that creates a rhythm of work and rest.  It helps you to appreciate your family and carve out special play/relaxation time with them and time for rest.  During the day on Friday it is customary to stop your regular work schedule at least an hour or two early to prepare yourself for this special time.  To prepare, people typically clean up their houses, shower themselves, and/or make an extra effort to create a special meal.  One traditional food is Challah.  It is a braided egg bread, like brioche, that is soft, sweet and delicious.  I like to make challah on Fridays. The time spent kneading the dough helps me recount the week’s toil, feel grateful to have made it through another week, and look forward to actively taking a break from work.

Before the special meal begins, we all gather and sing a little tune called a nigun.  It helps set the mood and bring the family together.  Once everyone is gathered and ready, we light 2 candles and thank God for light.  We then raise a glass of wine (kids have juice) and thank God for the fruit of the vine– cheers, take a sip.  Finally we all lay our hands on the delicious challah, thank God for bread and tear off a piece together.  A general feeling of gratefulness to be together and to be enjoying this holiday ensues.  It is customary to invite friends, neighbors and acquaintences to share in the blessings and the meal.

After dinner, from Friday night to Saturday at sunset, make an effort to rest.  Go for a walk, or hike, join others in prayer or song, take a bath, take a nap, lay in the garden.  Separate from electronic devices and work related tasks and thoughts.  Try to play and listen to your family, and your own needs, for rest.

After sundown on Saturday, it is customary to say goodbye to Shabbat (sabbath) and hello to the rest of the week through the ceremony of Havdallah.