Making Shabbat Memories
Compiled by Judy Caplan Ginsburgh, 2013
"Shabbat Across America" was begun in 2002 as a way to reach out to unaffiliated Jews and help affiliated Jews grow and deepen their understanding of what Shabbat can mean for their lives. Below is a list of simple things you and your family can do to make any Shabbat special.
• Set the table especially for Shabbat. Use Shabbat symbols, flowers, a tablecloth or placemats.
• Give tzedakah. Decide where you will donate the money. Each Shabbat everyone contributes what they can. Make a special container or tzedakah box to collect contributions.
• Create your own family rituals that are unique to this special day.
• Take turns lighting candles and leading Kiddush (blessing over the wine), motzi (blessing over the bread/meal) and birkat hamazon (blessing after the meal).
• Sing Shabbat songs. Add a musical instrument. Sing along with a recording.
• Bless your children; periodically invite children to bless their parents.
Ask grandparents about family traditions, Shabbat ritual objects or recipes that have (or have not been) passed down.
• Come to synagogue as a family or with friends. Have a Shabbat dinner before or after services with friends and/or family.
• Everyone should be asked to describe one good thing that they did during the previous week; or tell one thing they are thankful for that week; or say something nice about everyone at the table.
• Add your own family prayer for those close to you, those who are sick, etc. before the meal.
• Make the Shabbat meal special
• Serve a special dessert
• Give children special roles and responsibilities-helping to light candles, reciting a blessing themselves, setting out the ritual items, polishing a Kiddush cup or candlesticks.
• Greet one another with “Shabbat Shalom” (a peaceful Shabbat)
• Keep in mind as a guide, the three mitzvot (commandments) of Shabbat: Holiness (kedushah), Rest (menucha) and Delight/joy (oneg)
• Set aside time on Saturday to do something you usually don’t get to do: take a walk, read a story, visit older relatives, do a mitzvah (good deed), spend family time just being together.
• Make the day different from the other days of the week
• Make havdalah Saturday evening, to say goodbye to Shabbat
• Remember, rituals are special and they are regular; they give order and meaning to our lives. They make us Jewish.
Adapted from: the Reform Jewish Outreach 2000 Idea Book, Kahn, K.,ed. (1999) New York: UAHC Press.