Every Friday at sunset we celebrate the Sabbath. We greet our family and friends with “shabbat shalom”, meaning “Sabbath peace”. The dinner table is covered with a white tablecloth and family and friends come together to enjoy a delicious meal.
Shabbat is a time to go to synagogue to pray. Work is prohibited. It is a time to unplug the phone, leave mail unopened and keep the car in the garage. A time to put serious decisions and discussions on hold. It may seem difficult, in our complicated lives, to imagine such a concept. But perhaps this is why Jewish people enthusiastically embrace Shabbat, as it makes perfect sense to slow down in our fast-paced world.
We welcome in the Sabbath by lighting at least two candles to illuminate the home, and we say a prayer. In ancient times, the average dwelling consisted of only two rooms, and so during the evenings one lighted candle was carried from room to room to provide light as needed. On the Friday night two candles were lit, one for each room, because on the Sabbath carrying lighted candles was prohibited. Today, most homes have more than two rooms and we have electricity, so people tend to just leave certain lights on throughout the Sabbath period.
Wine was used daily in Talmudic times and a blessing was recited before it was drunk. But since the Sabbath is a holy day, its sanctity is reinforced by reciting an additional prayer known as the Kiddush.
A prayer is said before eating the Chullah (plaited bread). During the Exodus from Egypt, God fed the Israelites by sending down food called manna. Because it is prohibited to work on the Sabbath and Festivals, on Fridays and the day before the commencement of the Festival He would send down double the amount of manna, so the Israelites would not have to collect it on the Sabbath and the Festivals. The custom of placing two loaves of bread on the Sabbath table has also been explained as an extension of the old practice of serving bread with each cooked dish.
• Candle lighting before sunset • Festive meals on Friday night, Saturday lunch and at the conclusion of the Sabbath at sunset on Saturday
• Attending Synagogue
• The Havdalah ceremony at the end of Shabbat
• 2 Chullahs
• Gefilte fish (both boiled and fried)
• Smoked salmon
• Egg and shallot dip
• Pickled cucumbers and olives
• Chicken with mushrooms
• Baked vegetables with rosemary
• Cucumber salad
• Crispy potatoes
• Bread and Butter Pudding or American Carrot Cake
• Fresh fruit