Shabbat is my absolute favorite time of the week. Though my Shabbat rituals have changed significantly over the years (and based upon my surroundings, as I moved from Seattle to Jerusalem in 2015) what has stayed consistent is my love for this intentional time that often involves some of my favorite things – recharging my batteries, delicious food, and creating deep connections with others.
One of my favorite moments of Shabbat is a tradition that I see a lot in Israel – when making a blessing over the wine for, many people pour wine to the very tip-top of the kiddish cup, and then some, until a bit of wine spills over the top. In Kabbalistic traditions, doing so is viewed as a segula (an action that is considered to lead to a change in one's luck, fortune, or destiny) for abundance in the coming week. And it’s a perfect representation of how I often feel on Shabbat – like my cup is full, and even, overflowing.
It is beautiful that there are Shabbat rituals that connect us all, and at the same time, Shabbat looks different in every household. No matter how you observe and celebrate Shabbat, I suggest incorporating a few new rituals that might make you feel like your cup is a little fuller after a long week. I’m a big proponent of creating a meaningful ritual that works for you, and I hope you can find yourself in at least a few of my 36 top recommendations for before, during, and after Shabbat to make it extra special.
Ease into the intentional space of Shabbat through some preparatory cooking and baking, reading up on the parashah, making pre-Shabbat well wishes, and doing some self-care:
- Make an Israeli recipe for Shabbat. My favorite quick and easy picks are traditional Israeli hummus and these techina cookies.
- Bake a challah recipe but put a twist on it and make it your own!
- Bake an extra challah to give away to someone who might appreciate it.
- Read up on the weekly reformjudaism.org.
- Call someone who is sick or going through a rough patch and greet them with a “Shabbat Shalom.” A short and sweet call can go a long way.
- Take a bath with Epsom salts and essential oils to ground yourself and de-stress.
As Shabbat comes in, I turn off my electronics, light Shabbat candles, pray/meditate for the health and wellbeing of my family and friends, and for good things in the coming week. Here are some of my recommendations for a rejuvenating Shabbat:
- Turn off your phone, computer, and video games and instead opt for connecting with the people around you.
- Start your own Shabbat ritual – whether it’s small like enjoying a special drink or cake, or a practice added onto another ritual like HaMotzi, or .
- Go to a local synagogue for services, or stream from home.
- Go to a friend’s house for Shabbat dinner.
- Invite a friend who you know would like some company over for dinner or dessert.
- At dinner, go around the table and name a “rose” and “thorn” of your week.
- Read and discuss the parashah of the week with a friend.
- Learn to play a new game – my favorites are sheshbesh (backgammon), Monopoly deal, Code Names, Dixit, and Bananagrams.
- Think of three things you are grateful for from the past week, and three wishes for the coming week.
- On Saturday morning, stay in your pajamas just a little bit longer than usual and sip your coffee a little bit slower.
- Host friends for a cheese and wine Kiddush on Saturday morning.
- Go to the park with your kids, friends, dog, or on your own for some much-needed me-time!
- Get out of the house and enjoy nature.
- Take a picnic to the park and bring balls, books, and games!
- Ask the others around you about their favorite childhood memories centered around family or holiday gatherings.
- Make a family trivia game, where you quiz your family on the names and relationships of your extended family.
- Read your favorite cookbook.
- Practice yoga and create a special Shabbat pose.
- Take a nap.
- Be mindful when you eat – savor each bite and say a blessing over your food or show gratitude for the source of the food and what it does for you and your body.
- Read the newspaper or a magazine.
- Go through your family photos and albums.
- Go through your old clothes and start a donation pile.
- Catch up with a friend as you visit a nearby botanical garden.
- Play with your fluffy friends – they will thank you!
In Israel, as Shabbat ends and we look ahead to our first day of the workweek on Sunday, it can be a bittersweet time. Instead of jumping into “daily mode on Saturday night,” I like to ease my way back into the week by doing something I love.
- Add to your havdalah ritual by doing something special to mark the end of Shabbat and the beginning of the week, such as journaling, meditation, or sharing with the people around you what you are looking forward to in the coming week.
- Light good-smelling candles and put on some calming music for a chill evening in.
- Do the New York Times crossword or Wordle.
- Extend the tech-free time and do some arts and crafts.
- Have an Israeli-themed movie night. We recommend the Beauty Queen of Jerusalem series on Netflix and Cinema Sabaya, in select theaters. Pro tip: make popcorn with olive oil and za’atar (a Middle Eastern mix of dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, and salt) on it and enjoy!
No matter how you observe and celebrate Shabbat, may it be a special time in which you fill your cup and begin your week feeling like your best self!