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 Creating Shabbat

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 section we describe a number of such practices.

It is difficult to capture the spirit of Shabbat when describing the mechanics of specific rituals. Remember, it is not any one tradition that defines Shabbat; all of these traditions aim to allow us to sanctify the Sabbath.

Also 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. Ideally, rituals should enable you to enjoy, and be aware of, your most basic but precious blessings.Children, plenty of good food, and a home are reason enough to celebrate. If you use these practices to re-focus yourself; you may find your usual worries recede into the background.

On this topic:

Creating Shabbat

Seven Shabbat traditions

How to: Words and deeds

Shabbat as a family

Mishpacha participants on Shabbat 


 Some ideas for creating a festive atmosphere on Shabbat:

  • Invite friends or family for a leisurely Friday night dinner or Saturday afternoon meal.
  • Cook your family's favorite foods.
  • If you don't have time to cook, order or buy special foods.
  • Learn how to bake challah. Encourage your children to participate.
  • Clean and beautify your home.
  • Put a fresh tablecloth on your dinner table.
  • Arrange colorful flowers around your home.
  • Put on your favorite clothes before dinner.


Shabbat is a time when we stop worrying about what we lack. There should be a sense of overflowing abundance. But to really experience this sense of fullness takes preparation. You may wish to make a list of everything you may need for twenty four hours of blessing.

To prepare for Shabbat, families spend a lot of time cleaning and making special meals. Some families bake challah every week. Preparing for Shabbat is actually hard work -- both physically and mentally. Mental focussing may be enhanced by wearing a piece of your favorite clothing. Cooking and cleaning become opportunities to think about the past week and meditate about the kind of restoring you wish to achieve.

First Person
I think Shabbat as an island in the week would be a good addition to our home; but the island keeps getting caught in the tide and swamped by the waves.

--George H.

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Don't forget about yourself!

Although preparing for Shabbat can be time consuming, it is important not to forget about your own physical, emotional, and spiritual preparation.

Take some time as you prepare for Shabbat to review your week. Is there anything you need to do before Shabbat begins that would help you leave the week behind? Perhaps there is a debt to repay, a misunderstanding to resolve, a book to return, or a bill to settle? Think carefully about your emotional/spiritual condition. Do you feel depleted in any way? How can Shabbat specifically nurture and restore you?

Next: Seven Shabbat traditions


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