How can your household begin to keep Shabbat? One way to do it is with a simple Shabbat dinner.
Note: If you are new to Shabbat, make only a few changes, or even one change, at a time. Try things and notice what happens and how you feel. Adjust as necessary. This is a lifetime project. Blessings may be said either in Hebrew or in English. Do what is comfortable for your household.
- MAKE IT SPECIAL: “Special” will mean something slightly different for every household. Perhaps you will use a tablecloth, or invite a friend. Whatever you do, make sure it is food that you like and that will not add stress. If cooking is hard for you, have good takeout. Many Jews eat challah, a sweet egg bread, on Shabbat.
- YOU WILL NEED: Two candles, wine or juice, bread, yummy food.
- SET THE TABLE Put the candles in candlesticks and bread on the table. Cover the bread with a napkin.
- LIGHT CANDLES: A. Light the two candles B. Say the blessing: Blessed are you, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who commands us to light the candles of Shabbat. (I’m assuming here that English is more comfortable for you. If you want Hebrew, or to sing it, you can find a recording here.)
- BLESS THE WINE: Lift up the cup of wine or juice and say: Blessed are you, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Take a sip. (If you want Hebrew, or to sing it, you can find a recording here.)
- BLESS THE BREAD: Uncover the bread, touch it, and say: Blessed are you, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth. (If you want Hebrew, or to sing it, you can find a recording here.) Then tear or cut a piece of the bread, and eat it.
- EAT DINNER: You already know how to do that!
- SAY GRACE AFTER MEALS: Stay at the table until everyone is finished. Then give thanks for having eaten: Blessed are you, Eternal our God, Who nourishes us all. There is a longer, beautiful blessing which you can learn by googling “Birkat Hamazon” and about which I’ll write in some future post. For now, for a simple Shabbat for beginners, this is enough.
The most important thing is to keep things low-key and pleasant: don’t use this meal as a time to remind anyone of work that needs to be done, or for unpleasant arguments. And keep in mind that since Shabbat comes once a week, it doesn’t have to be “perfect.” If there is something you’d like to be different, try that next week!
13 thoughts on “8 Easy Steps to A Simple Shabbat Dinner”
Easy, simple and clear! Great article, Rabbi!
Thank you, Aviva! Are there any other topics you’d like to see?
“8 Easy Steps to A Simple Shabbat Dinner | Coffee Shop Rabbi” fbleadsnow was in fact truly entertaining and useful!
In todays society honestly, that is hard to accomplish.
With thanks, Santo
Thanks for your comment, Louisa – the lovely thing about Shabbat, for me, is that it is easy to accomplish the basics. Shabbat is like chess: the basics are easy to learn, mastering it as an art is the work of a lifetime. I just want people to be able to BEGIN!
Reblogged this on The Blackwater Brief.
do u have to be Jewish to observe?
Anyone can observe Shabbat.
Wonderful reminder that it is about rest, not perfection! God worked 6 days and rested 1. Shabbat dinner is a special way of leading into rest, celebrating that “it is good”! And honoring the Messiah in communion as we remember the sacrifice and reconciliation He brought to us!