5 Tips to Make Your Shabbat Meal More Accessible

When sharing a Shabbat meal, it is important to remember that it takes more than opening up our homes to be welcoming. One in four people have a disability. With advanced planning and consideration, you can create an inclusive and accessible Shabbat dinner for all of your guests.

“As we get into the practice of considering disability inclusion in our holiday and Shabbat celebrations, it becomes second nature,” said Chief Program Officer Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer of Jewish Learning Venture, which is supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. “When we are conscious of providing accommodations for home-based and public events, we are better able to include everyone.”

Jewish Learning Venture’s Whole Community Inclusion team helps ensure that families raising Jewish children with disabilities find the support and accommodations needed for full inclusion in Jewish life.

Here are five tips to help make your Shabbat more inclusive for people with disabilities.

1. Ask your guests ahead of time if there are any kinds of accommodations that they may need in order to participate. When hosting personal or professional events, it is important to get in the habit of asking about accommodations.

2. Let guests know in advance about your home’s physical accessibility. Unfortunately, many homes are built with steps to enter the home and home bathrooms may not be large enough to accommodate wheelchair users. This assessment can help you determine your home’s accessibility.

3. Many people have dietary restrictions related to chronic health issues or medical conditions. Ask guests in advance about their dietary needs. With advance notice, you can collaborate on a menu with options that can work for everyone.

4. For guests who have sensory sensitivities, show them a place in your home where they can go if they need to step away from the table. A den or outdoor area might work well for children or adults who need to take a break in order to regulate their nervous systems.

5. Check out jkidaccess’ Shabbat resources for children who have autism, anxiety or intellectual disabilities. Preparing for Shabbat can help everyone better understand what to expect.


Ready to host Shabbat? In honor of Israel 75, join the Jewish Federation by celebrating Shabbat in Greater Philadelphia with your family, friends and community on Friday, April 28 and Saturday, April 29, 2023. You can participate by hosting a Private Shabbat Gatheringattending a Community Shabbat Experience or joining a Young Adult Shabbat Gathering.