Q. I want to start celebrating a Shabbat dinner with my family what do I do?

A. Great idea! Shabbat dinner is one of those things that once you start you’ll find it hard to stop. It’s a wonderful time to bring the family together with no disturbances – no cell phones, ipods, tv or any other background noises. It’s a time to reflect on our spiritual well being while forgetting the busy schedules and tasks of the week.

Start with the women and girls in the house lighting Shabbat candles before sundown. Learn more about it here. You can get a free candle lighting kit at fridaylight.org. Every Friday night two angels visit our home for Shabbat so we start the dinner by welcoming them with the song of Shalom Aleichem. You can find the text of the song here.

Next we say the Kiddush. It is a special blessing extolling the holiness of Shabbat and thanking G‑d for giving us this unique gif. Like all important blessings in Judaism, Kiddush is said while holding a cup of wine or grape juice. One person in the family fills a cup and then reads the blessing found here and then drinks part of the wine. Everyone at the tables then takes a sip from the wine.

Before we start the meal we eat Challah, the special braided bread for Shabbat. We start with two whole Challah loaves, reminding us of the uniqueness of Shabbat. Before we cut the Challah we make a blessing over the bread that can be found here.

Now it’s time to eat and enjoy the beauty of Shabbat with the family. There are no rules of what to eat but there are many traditional Shabbat food that are commonly eaten in a multi course meal on Friday night. They include Gefilte fish, chicken soup and chicken. More important that the food is the quality time. You can spend it in many ways such as singing Jewish songs together (you can find some here), talk about Judaism or other meaningful things or capture everyone’s imagination with a story.

Wishing you a Shabbat shalom and thoroughly enjoyable Shabbat experience.

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