traditional Shabbat events

Shabbat Traditions

Shabbat is a day of rest, set aside from all other days. Shabbat begins as sunset begins on Friday night and ends on Saturday night at sundown. It is a day that is set apart from the rest of the week.

Light the Candles

Shabbat is ushered in by lighting candles (at least two) 18 minutes before sunset on Friday night. Two candles are lit, representing two commandments: Zakhor (to remember) and Shamor (to observe). Candle lighting times vary from season to season and by location. Traditionally, this honor is given to the woman of the house, but anyone can do it. Having additional candles for older children to light is fun and gets everyone participating. The candles are lit and then the blessing is said over them.

Blessing of the Children

Share a special moment with your kids. Put your hand on their heads and say the blessings.


Before the Shabbat meal we say a blessing over the wine. It celebrates the creation of all things and HaShem’s freeing us from the bondage of Egypt to live as free people and worship HaShem.


Blessing over the bread to begin the meal. We bless two loaves of Challah (bread). The reason for two loaves is that when we wandered in the desert we were given a double portion of manah just before Shabbat so we would have enough to eat throughout Shabbat and would not have to “work” to gather our food.

Festive meal

The meals of Shabbat are called festive meals because Shabbat is a holiday. There are three: Shabbat evening, after we’ve lit the candles. Then there are two more festive meals, the second of which occurs at the end of Shabbat when we close the Shabbat with the Havdalla.

Bichat HaMazon

Blessing after the meal. This is the blessing that we use every day after meals. On Shabbat it is said taking our time to reflect on the words. Some families chant the blessing and others simply say the words.

Torah Study

Every week we have a new Parsha (portion) of the Torah to read. Take time to talk about the Torah portion with your children. Tell them the story and discuss it with them. How would they do things differently if they were faced with that situation? What do they think about the people in the story?

Festive meal

This is the second of three festive meals that we have during Shabbat.

Bichat HaMazon

Blessing after the meal.

Shabbat Day

Most communities have a short service on Friday night and a longer one in the morning on Shabbat.

Torah Study / Rest

Shabbat is a day to rest and have time with the family. Take long walks, study the Torah, play games with the kids and relax.

Festive meal

This is the third of three festive meals that we have during Shabbat.

Bichat HaMazon

Blessing after the meal.


Havdallah closes Shabbat the same way it started, with lighting candles. A special candle is used with several wicks. The braided candle symbolizes the unifying force of Shabbat.

There are many different traditions in Judaism, and some families and communities develop their own unique variations. Find the ones that you are most comfortable with and that meet the needs of your family. There are many ways to incorporate each component into your Shabbat celebration. Have a wonderful and joyous Shabbat!