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Shabbat begins with the lighting of two candles. As you prepare to light the candles think of the light that you found in the world over the last week. Think of the light that you hope to find in the week to come.
It’s time to say thank you. To your host or to your guests. To the people who have supported you through the last year, and the people who inspire you going forward. Say a real thank you--be as specific as you can, because thank yous are like fuel--they power us for the year to come. And don’t forget to thank God (or the creator/the Universe/the mystical source of connection) one more time for the year you just had,...
In the sixteenth century, the small town of Safed, located in the mountains of Galilee in northern Israel, was a center of Jewish mysticism. Solomon ben Moses Halevi Alkabets was one of the many mystics who lived and studied there. On Friday nights, Alkabets and his colleagues would dress in white like bridegrooms and joyously dance and march through the fields outside town to greet the Sabbath, which...
Candlelight is very different than the harsh lights of our homes and offices. We begin Shabbat bathed in their sweet, gentle glow.
Candles are lit a minimum of 18 minutes before sundown on Friday evening.
Light at least two candles (some add an additional candle for each child.)
Draw in the light by waving your hands toward your eyes three times.
Recite the blessing, while covering your eyes...
Expanding on the second question, Jewish tradition holds every living thing (and even inanimate objects) as containing a certain amount of wonder, as if there is a secret hiding inside of everything, yearning to be recognized, revealed and even protected. In our tradition, trees are to be respected. Just as there are human rights and animal rights, there are tree rights. For instance, you can't just wantonly chop down a...
The Yamim Noraim (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur) are here. We’re tasked with reflecting on our lives and practicing teshuvah (returning). Through teshuvah we examine our actions over the past year, seek forgiveness from ourselves, others, and the Divine and dedicate ourselves to do better next year. These sacred days provide an opportunity to ask ourselves the hardest questions and explore all the...
The shehechiyanu blessing thanks the creator for giving us life, sustaining us, and allowing us to reach this day. This blessing is said at momentous occasions, and tonight counts because it is the night when we can finally look back on the whole previous year. We made it! Whether bitter or sweet, difficult or fun, tonight we celebrate and feel grateful for making it to today, and to this table to reflect with people we...
Reprinted fromThe Jewish Religion: A Companion, published by Oxford University Press.
Kiddush is the sanctification of the Sabbath.
On Friday night, when the Sabbath begins, the Kiddush ceremony is carried out before sitting down to the Sabbath meal. A cup of wine is filled and held in the hand by the person presiding, usually but not necessarily the father of the house, and the benediction over...
Nearly all Jewish holiday begin with lighting candles, and so this one will, too. After we light the candles we wave our hands in three big horizontal circles to symbolically bring the light closer to us, and then cover our eyes while we say the blessing. When the blessing is over take a moment of silent reflection with your eyes covered, and then open your eyes and enjoy the beauty of candlelight, bringing you into the...