Jewish Outreach Media Campaign
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ADD A BIT OF SHABBAT TO YOUR LIFE - Saturday...
Celebrating Shabbat is meant to bring peace, joy and beauty into your life and refreshment to your soul.
Ok - You've got the hang of Friday night. Now you're ready to move on to Saturday....
It's not that different, of course - it's the same principles and many of the same rituals. Here are some suggestons for making Saturday into Shabbat.
(* Asterisk marks steps that are somewhat more advanced.)
- Go to Synagogue for services. If you go regularly you start to get to know new people, you get to hear the Torah read, you're in on the "action" in that synagogue. You get much more out of it by going regularly.
- Wish others a "Shabbat Shalom" or a "Good Shabbos."
- Listen to the Torah Parsha - and follow along with the Chumush - the written Torah book. It's interesting - incredible stories - much fascinating material - many historical footnotes. It's very rich in the details.
- Listen to the sermon - usually it gives you some very meaty stuff to think about - or an inspiring uplift.
- Enjoy the liturgy. (If you don't like the liturgy in one place, try another. The more you understand the liturgy and the more you get used to the melodies and styles, the more you are likely to enjoy the whole experience.)
- In most synagogues there will be some form of refreshment after the service.
- Then, it's traditional to go home and have a lovely, leisurely Shabbat meal with friends and family. If you're lucky, perhaps you'll be invited to someone's house for a traditional Shabbat meal, which can be a real treat.
- Or, you might want to be the one who has prepared a Sabbath meal and invites friends and family to come. The Saturday meal is essentially the same as the Friday night meal except it's often even more leisurely.
- Remember to continue enjoying true peace and quiet, with the tv, radio and stereo "OFF."
- For a True Shabbat experience - Donít go shopping, donít handle money, donít conduct business until Shabbat ends, one hour after sundown, when you can see three stars in the sky. (Isnít that poetic?) You'll feel DIFFERENT after a Shabbat when you "observed" in this way - that is, you'll feel BETTER - refreshed. It's nice. Try it...
- Avoid discussing unpleasant, crass or commercial topics during Shabbat.
- Mealtime rituals are similar to Friday's:
- Say Kiddish over the wine.
- *Ritually wash hands before cutting the challah. Each person goes to the sink and takes a cup and pours a bit of water over his/her right hand wrist - three times - then the left hand wrist, three times, while saying the "Al nitilat yadayim" prayer: After the prayer is said, it is customary to stay silent until everyone has finished washing hands AND the HaMotzi prayer has been said over the challah and the challah has been distributed and tasted.
Then say the HaMotzi - blessing over the challah (or bread.) Cut the bread and distribute a small piece to each person, who eats it. Traditionally a corner of the bread is dipped in a bit of salt - as salt was once a great luxury (And during the period of the Temple Worship, sacrifices were ritually dipped in salt.) Once you've tasted the bread, you may speak freely and enjoy your meal!
A traditional Saturday Shabbat meal often has these components:
After a leisurely lunch on Saturday afternoon, curl up under a quilt for a cozy Shabbat nap. *At the end of Shabbat, make the beautiful Havdallah ceremony with braided candle, fragrant spices and sweet wine.Wish everyone a "shavuah tov" - a good week. Turn someone new onto Shabbat!Even if you start by just doing one or two of these practices - such as simply taking a Shabbat nap on Saturday afternoon - we think you'll find that "observing" Shabbat deepens your connection to Judaism - deepens your sense that the Jewish week cycle is important and meaningful - deepens your sense that Judaism is to be valued and enjoyed!
- An appetizer course with something like chomos (mashed chick pea spread) with pita bread, olives and pickles, fresh veggies like cherry tomatoes, celery, carrots, etc. Sometimes there's also Babaganoush (mashed eggplant spread) and other Israeli-style, salad-y, appetizer-type foods. (Many of these are available in little plastic containers in supermarkets today.)
- Soup (and the challah you broke earliler). Could be chicken with matzoh balls or dumplings or noodles - but not necessarily. Whatever kind of soup you would like.
- Salad - if you'd like.
- Main dish with veggies and potatoes, rice, etc.
- Dessert and tea or coffee.
- During dinner try to keep the conversation ELEVATED. That is, you try to avoid nasty tales about other people, bad news, negative or upsetting topics and certainly dirty jokes - which are totally inappropriate and should not be tolerated.
- During the meal, open a discussion about meanings within the Parsha (Torah portion of the week.) Encourage everyone to participate. Make it lively and interesting so that everyone is engaged.
- You might want to discuss some current events (that are not too depressing!) or you might want to focus on religious ideas - perhaps comment on something you've read - whatever is appealing and appropriate to a Shabbat dinner.
- During the meal you can sing some lovely Jewish songs. Maybe learn a new song - or teach your children a song they don't know. Singing really brings out the warmth and goodness of Shabbat. You just feel so much better after you've sung a pretty song together.
- *After the meal you can try the Birkat Hamazon - or Bentching - which is elaborate, ancient prayers said - and sung - at the end of the meal. They last about 6 or 7 minutes. You can find these prayers in little books called Bentchers, that are often given out at religious weddings and bar mitzvahs. It's easiest to experience bentching with others who do it regularly. That way you will start to pick up the tunes and see how it's done. It's not something you can easily teach yourself.
Shabbat Shalom to you!...
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