Step 1: Why bless and what do we bless?

Flames evoke a sense of wonder.

The beginning of Shabbat is marked with the lighting of candles. In biblical times, women lit a lampthat had to last them through the evening, since lighting a fire was work they would not do duringShabbat. This tradition has been carriedforward through Jewish history. Today, you can begin yourShabbat on Friday evening by lighting the candles and saying a blessing.You can buy candles that are marked “Shabbat candles” in many supermarkets, though if you can’tfind them, other plain candles will work. Since we let them burn down and don’t usually move themor blow them out, make sure you find a good fire‐safe spot. One lights the candles first becausesaying the blessing is what brings in Shabbat.

This is probably the origin of the custom of covering the eyes before saying the blessing – to hide thatthe action in theblessing already happened. Some have the additional custom of waving the handstoward the face, as though to bring in the light of the candles.

How many?

Traditionally two candles are lit, however, in modern times families often light one candle for each member in the household. Any candleholder will do, but some people purchase candlesticks they only use for Shabbat. This is called hiddur mitzvah, beautifying the mitzvah (commandment). You make the candle blessing all the more special by having candlesticks specifically for Shabbat.


Traditionally candle lighting times are calculated by checking the time of sunset (online or in the local paper) andsubtracting 18 minutes. Therefore, in the winter, candle lighting can be as early as 4pm and during the summer as late as 9pm. If you want or need to light candles when you get home from work or before your children go to bed, that’s ok! More traditional members of the Jewish community would disagree – but we just think it’s important to light in the first place.

1. Light the Candles 2. Cover your eyes 3. Bless the candle lighting (we don’t bless the object of the candles, rather the symbolism) 4. Greet everyone with the words, “Shabbat shalom!” and maybe even a kiss and hug. Lighting the candles symbolizes the actual start to Shabbat.

Try This!

Next time after you close your eyes, try taking a few deep breaths and focusing on the transition between the mundane (the work week) and the sacred (Shabbat) before you open your eyes.

The blessing is: If you don't feel comfortable saying the blessing in Hebrew, you can recite an English translation of all or part of it

ברוך אתהה'א‑לוהינו, מלך העולם, אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להדליק נר של שבת

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha‐Olam asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzeevanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.

Blessed are You Adonai our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us by your commandments and commanded us to light the Shabbat candles.

After the candles have been blessed, don’t blow them out.

Step 2: A Conversation

“A great pianist was once asked by an ardent admirer: ‘How do you handle the notes aswell as your do?’ The artistanswered: ‘The notes I handle no better than many pianists,but the pauses between the notes – ah! That is where the art resides.’In great living, as in great music, the art may be in the pauses. Surely one of the enduringcontributions which Judaism made to the art of living was the Shabbat, the ‘pausesbetween the notes.’ And it is to the Shabbat that we must look if we are to restore to ourlives the sense of serenity and sanctity which Shabbat offers in such joyousabundance.” Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Sabbath


Please share the answers to these questions as a group. Take no more than seven minutes on this piece: Everyone is encouraged to share, but if someone does not feel comfortable, they can refrain. You can choose to answer all or some of the questions below.

• How does music, a universal concept, help you more fully understand the essence of Shabbat? • Aside from any Shabbat celebrations, how does your family relax? What do you do/not do? • How do you relax personally? Where/how do you find serenity in your life? • Did covering your eyes between lighting the Shabbat candles and saying the blessing help to physically separate yourself between the week and Shabbat? How did you feel after you opened your eyes? • Read the following quote: “Do your work, then step back, that is the only path to serenity. One who clings to his work will create nothing that endures. Just do your job, then let go.” – Tao Te Ching • What are a few practical techniques that you can do to be able to separate yourself from your work and the hectic pace of the week, even if it’s just for an hour or two?

Step 3: Activities

A Shabbat Story – The Rabbi and the Emperor Taken from the Babylonian Talmud and retold by Jody Hirsch as found in the book Tastes of JewishTradition.

Rabbi Judah, the Prince, was good friends with the Roman Emperor Antoninus. One day, the emperorinvited the rabbi to eat dinner in his palace. The rabbi ate fruit and pastries the likes of which he had nevertasted. The next Friday night, Rabbi Judah invited the emperor to eat at his house. They ate soup, roastedmeat, stewed vegetables, pastries, and wines. It was all delicious. It was better than any meal the emperorhad ever eaten. “I must eat here again!” said the emperor to the rabbi.“Come again next Wednesday,” the rabbi said.The next Wednesday, the emperor appeared at the rabbi’s house ready for a meal grander than the last. Rabbi Judah served the exact same menu: soup, roasted meat,stewed vegetables, pastries and wines – butsomehow the meal wasn’t nearly as good as it had been the previous week.“What’s the matter with our food!?” asked the emperor. “It’s good, of course, but it’s not nearly asdelicious as itwas last week!”“Ah!” said the rabbi. “That’s because I used a special spice last week which made the food taste all the better.”“And what is that special spice?” demanded the emperor. “I must have it!”“The special spice,” said the rabbi, “is Shabbat.”

Craft – Candle Making

One way of making Shabbat special and unique to your family is to create your own ritual items.CandlePurchase beeswax strips and wicks at a craft store Cut to size Roll with a wick inside Candlesticks ‐ Soda bottle candlesticks

Materials: • 2 empty/clean see‐through soda bottles (see through) • 4 bottle caps • 2 disposable Shabbat candle holders (or aluminum foil) • Craft glue • Option 1 materials: corn kernels, dried peas, black beans, lima beans, kidney beans • Option 2 materials: marbles, rocks, pebbles, small seashells

Steps: 1. Fill two bottles with layers of objects. You can use a spoon, your hands, or a funnel 2. Apply glue in a circle around the inside edge of the bottle cap. Close the bottle tightly. 3. Invert a second bottle cap and glue it on the top of the first cap 4. To use, line the inverted bottle cap with the disposable Shabbat candle holder or aluminum foil There are many websites where you can find other options for candle and candlestick making.

Here is one:

Type of Custom: Candlelighting, Psalms, Poetry & Songs, Kiddush, Motzi & Handwashing, Commentary/Meditations, Prayers of Celebration & Gratitude


Source: A Shabbat Experience For Your Group of Friends (and Family)