THE ONE JEWISH RITUAL FOR YOUR FAMILY LIFE...
Jewish Outreach Media Campaign
P.O. Box 111
Town of Lumberland, NY 12770
THE ONE MOST IMPORTANT RITUAL YOU CAN DO THAT WILL DEEPEN YOUR FAMILY'S CONNECTION TO JUDAISM...
And it's fun - truly...
Gather family and friends for a delicious, friendly, warm, peaceful, fun-filled Friday evening Shabbat dinner on a regular, weekly (if possible) basis.
It's a wonderful thing when everyone in the family has been busy with soooooo many activities all week long and then everyone comes together for this special time that is such a core part of being Jewish - and ALSO such a core part of being a FAMILY.
If you do nothing else - nothing else - this is the one thing you can do to infuse your family life with the BEST of Judaism.
(You don't have to become "ultra-religious" to do it - not at all. Just do the parts that are comfortable for you at first. You can always add more traditions and rituals as you learn more and want to deepen your experience of Shabbat.)
Here's what you do on the simplest level:
Here is the prayer: Baruckh Atah Adonai Eloheinu Meleckh HaOlam Asher Kid'shanu B'mitzvotov Vitzivanu Leckhadlich Ner Shel Shabbat.
You might try these beautiful traditional Shabbat rituals:
1. As everyone gathers at the table for the meal, sing the song, "Sholem Aleichem." It's a lovely, cheerful song about Angels and Peace that helps to usher in the spirit of the Sabbath.
2. Say a simple Kiddish while holding up a glass of Kosher wine.
Here are the words to the Kiddish over wine: Baruckh Atah Adonai Eloheinu Meleckh HaOlam Borey Pree HaGofen.
3. Say the blessing over the challah (or bread):
Here are the words: Baruckh Atah Adonai Eloheinu Meleckh HaOlam HaMotzi Leckhem Min Haaretz. (Traditionally you would hold TWO loaves of bread together while saying the prayer because in the Torah God provided DOUBLE the manna for Shabbat.) Cut the bread and distribute a small piece to each person. Traditionally a corner of each slice is dipped before eating in a bit of salt - as salt was once a great luxury. Once you've tasted the bread, you proceed to enjoy your meal!
A traditional Friday evening meal often has these components:
During dinner you should 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 off-color or negative jokes about other groups, which are totally inappropriate and should not be tolerated. You might want to discuss some current events (the ones that are not too depressing) - or you might want to focus on religious ideas or moral and ethical issues, or 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. And truly, it helps to bond you together as a family.
Of course you want to make this time together pleasureable for all. This is not a time to criticize a child or engage in upsetting family arguments or give stern lessons, though it is a time to teach, for sure - in a fun, stimulating way.
Your time together during this meal should truly be pleasureable - delightful. Maybe use this time to give special praise to your children for the things that they have done well during the week. It's a great time to celebrate birthdays and accomplishments and good deeds and to praise each other and show love, appreciation and kindness.
After this has become a regular ritual with your family, invite other Jews to join you - maybe a single person who would appreciate the warmth and company - or another family - or some of your children's Jewish friends. It's wonderful to open your home to others, sharing this lovely weekly ritual.
Enjoy your lovely dinner - enjoy your guests - enjoy your family time together on Shabbat.
Go to bed feeling refreshed and renewed and re-connected with your children and other family members - and with your Judaism.
And - here's the key thing:
DO IT AGAIN NEXT FRIDAY NIGHT!
It's the regularity of it - the constancy - that makes it so special - that helps to give children a sense of security in this very un-secure world - and helps them to connect this wonderful time together with their memories of family life - and their feelings about their Jewish religion and heritage - and makes them WANT to perpetuate this lovely, meaningful ritual later on with their own families.
(If you can't do it every Friday - ok - do it every other Friday - or every third Friday - whatever you can manage. After a while, we think you'll want to do it every week - because you'll be looking forward to it...)
For more on Friday Night Shabbat dinner, go to
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