Israel 75 Shabbat Gathering Resource Guide

We welcome you to use this resource guide as a way to create an inclusive and accessible Shabbat experience for you, your family and your loved ones. Just like all Jewish holidays, Shabbat runs from evening to evening, starting at sundown on Friday and continuing until an hour after sunset on Saturday. A traditional Shabbat service includes blessings over candles, wine and challah – a special braided bread – followed by a meal.

This resource guide was created by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and by Jewish Learning Venture’s jkidphilly.

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It may seem simple – but following several years of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may be out of practice with inviting and welcoming guests.

Abraham and Sarah were known to be extremely welcoming and exemplified the Jewish value of Welcoming Guests – hachnasat orchim. Their tent was open on all sides so that they could walk and greet their guests. Just like Sarah and Abraham, we want to be welcoming to our guests. Author Wendy Mogel applied this concept to playdates (greeting and walking out guests). Sometimes kids have a difficult time with transitions and find it hard to stop playing; therefore, instead of just the guest leaving (while the host child continues playing), it is helpful if everyone gets up and walks to the door (or to the front of your home from your backyard).

Israel 75 presents an excellent opportunity for us to honor the Jewish value of welcoming guests for Shabbat gatherings. Here’s some practical steps to assist:

  1. Invite your guests for your Shabbat meal or Havdalah. Consider friends or neighbors you’ve been meaning to connect with, people from your synagogue or other community, colleagues or acquaintances whom you’re hoping to get to know better.
  2. When you text/email/call them to invite them, let them know that your Shabbat gathering will be a time to share readings, poems and conversation about what Israel means to them.
  3. At your Shabbat meal, introduce guests to each other – perhaps share something that they have in common.
  4. Use our resource guide to enhance your Shabbat experience!

Below are additional resources on Welcoming Guests:

Welcoming, accessibility and inclusion:

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. Here is a piece on “5 tips to make your Shabbat Meal More Accessible.”

Additional resources:



Blessing over the candles:

The lighting of candles as sunset approaches on Friday is the traditional sign of the arrival of Shabbat. After lighting the candles, it is customary to cover one’s eyes and recite the following:

בָּרוּך אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם אַשֶׁר קִדְשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶל שַבָּת

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who sanctified us with the commandment of lighting Shabbat candles.

Blessings over the children:

In households with children, it is traditional to offer a special blessing on Friday night after candle-lighting. There are two versions, one for boys and one for girls.

For girls, the introductory line is:

יְשִׂימֵךְ אֱלֹהיִם כְּשָׂרָה רִבְקָה רָחֵל וְלֵאָה

Yesimech Elohim k’Sarah Rivka Rachel v’Leah

May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.

For boys, the introductory line is:

יְשִׂימְךָ אֱלֹהיִם כְּאֶפְרַיְם וְכִמְנַשֶּׁה

Yismech Elohim k’Ephraim v’chi-Menashe.

May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe.

For both boys and girls, the rest of the blessing is:

יְבָרֶכְךָ יהוה וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ

יָאֵר יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ

יִשָּׂא יהוה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם

Yivarechecha Adonai v’yishmerecha

Ya’er Adonai panav eilecha vichuneka

Yisa Adonai panav eilecha v’yasem lecha shalom

May God bless you and protect you.

May God show you favor and be gracious to you.

May God show you kindness and grant you peace.

Blessing over the wine or grape juice (Kiddush):

The Kiddush marks Shabbat as sacred time. Recite the blessing before sipping the wine or grape juice. The Shabbat evening Kiddush is often preceded by a paragraph called Vayechulu, taken straight from the Hebrew Bible, which recounts the moment God completed creation and decided to rest.

Condensed version:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei p’ri hagafen.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Full version:

וַיְהִי עֶרֶב וַיְהִי בֹקֶר
יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי. וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאָם
וַיְכַל אֱלֹהִים בַּיּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי מְלַאכְתּו אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה. וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיּום הַשְּׁבִיעִי מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּו אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה
וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתוֹ. כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים לַעֲשׂוֹת

סַבְרִי מָרָנָן וְרַבָּנָן וְרַבּותַי [לחיים!]

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְרָצָה בָנוּ. וְשַׁבַּת קָדְשׁוֹ בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְרָצוֹן הִנְחִילָנוּ זִכָּרוֹן לְמַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית. כִּי הוּא יוֹם תְּחִלָּה לְמִקְרָאֵי קדֶשׁ זֵכֶר לִיצִיאַת מִצְרָיִם. כִּי בָנוּ בָחַרְתָּ וְאוֹתָנוּ קִדַּשְׁתָּ מִכָּל הָעַמִּים וְשַׁבַּת קָדְשְׁךָ בְּאַהֲבָה וּבְרָצוֹן הִנְחַלְתָּנוּ
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ מְקַדֵּשׁ הַשַּׁבָּת

(Quietly: Va-y’hee erev, va-y’hee boker.)

Yom ha-shishi. Vay’chulu hashamayim v’ha-aretz v’chol tz’va’am. Vay’chal Elohim
bayom hash’vi’i milachto asher asa. Vayishbot bayom hash’vi’i mikol milachto asher asa.
Vay’varech Elohim et yom hash’vi’i vay’kadesh oto. Kee vo shabbat mi-kol m’lachto
asher bara Elohim la’asot.
Savri maranan v’rabanan v’rabotai. (L’Chaim!)

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei p’ri hagafen.

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’ratza vanu,
v’shabbat kod’sho b’ahava uv’ratzon hinchilanu, zikaron l’ma’aseh b’reishit. Ki hu yom
t’chila l’mikra-ay kodesh, zaycher l’tziat mitzrayim. Ki vanu vacharta v’otanu kidashta
mikol ha’amim. V’shabbat kod-shi-cha b’ahava uv’ratzon hinchal tanu. Baruch ata
Adonai, mi’kadesh ha Shabbat.

(Quietly: There was an evening, there was a morning.)

The sixth day: And the Heavens and the Earth and all they contained were completed, and on the seventh day God desisted from all the work that God had done. And God rested on the seventh day from all the work that God had done. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, for on that day God rested from all the work which God had done in creating the world.

[Leader:] By your leave, rabbis, masters, teachers!
[Diners:] To Life! (L’Chaim!)

Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with God’s commandments and favored us, and given us in love and favor his holy Shabbat as an inheritance, as a remembrance of the act of creation. For this day is the beginning of all holy days, a remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt. For you have chosen us and you have blessed us from among all the nations. And you have bequeathed us your holy Shabbat in love and favor. Blessed are you, Lord, who sanctifies Shabbat.

Blessing over hand washing:

Following Kiddush, it is customary to wash one’s hands prior to continuing the meal. After washing the hands with water from a cup — often twice on the right hand and twice on the left, though precise practices vary — the following blessing is recited:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvotav vitzivanu al n’tilat yadayim.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments, and command us concerning the washing of the hands.

Blessing over the bread (Hamotzi):

After the washing of hands, some people have the custom of remaining silent until bread is eaten. Prior to eating the bread, the following blessing is recited.

בָּרוּך אַתָּה ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם הָמוֹצִיא לֶחֶם מִן הַאָרֶץ

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, who has brought forth bread from the earth.



In addition, watch OneTable’s interview with Chef Michael Solomonov about cooking for Shabbat dinner.



  • Listen to famous Israeli musician David Broza’s 2022 album Tefila that showcases new melodies for traditional Friday night prayers.
  • Check out this group of Israeli singers, who joined together to produce a new composition of Lecha Dodi, a traditional Friday night prayer.
  • Experience Israeli hip-hop music group Hadag Nahash and their song Yom Shishi (Friday) about the Friday night experience in Israel.


“A Poem for Friday Night”
By Yehuda Amichai

Will you come to me tonight?
The washing has already dried in the yard.
The never-ending war,
Is somewhere else right now.

Roads return unceasingly
By themselves, like a riderless horse
And the house is closes up at night
Upon the good and the bad within.

We well knew that the border is
Close by, and forbidden there.
Father prayed: “And they were completed –
The earth and all its hosts.”

“שיר ליל שבת”
מילים: יהודה עמיחי

התבואי אלי הלילה
.כבסים כבר יבשו בחצר
,מלחמה שאף פעם לא די לה
היא עכשיו במקום אחר

וכבישים שבים בלי הרף
לבדם כסוס בלי רוכבו
והבית נסגר בערב
,על הטוב והרע שבו

.וידענו היטב
כי הגבול הוא
.קרוב, ואסור לנו שם
אבי התפלל: ויכולו


The custom for Shabbat lunch is to eat hot foods – or meals cooked before Shabbat and served cold (i.e. fish). Since some Jews don’t cook on Shabbat, meals made in the Crockpot/Instapot or kept warm throughout the holiday are often served.


A shorter version of the Kiddush, blessing over the wine, preceded by a prayer called V’Shamru, is recited.

And we say haMotzi (the blessing over the bread).


Cholent, also referred to as Hamin, has a wide range of varieties, from Ashkenazi, Sephardic and Mizrachi traditions. Most Hamins include meat, potatoes, beans and barley. Some traditions replace the barley with rice or chickpeas. Sephardic customs typically add whole eggs to the pot, which turn brown overnight. The slow cook allows the flavors to blend together amazingly for a true treat on Shabbat!

Tabit is the Iraqi version of Hamin, featuring chicken and rice. The chicken is typically stuffed with rice and slow cooked together with flavored rice, tomatoes and pine nuts. The rice turns soft and packed with flavor, perfect for a Shabbat afternoon.

There are many versions of cholent: meat based, vegetarian, “the classic”, Iraqi and more!


Seudah Shlishit, literally translated as “the third meal,” is a lighter, casual Shabbat dinner on Saturday, often including cold salads, breads and spreads. The general mood of the third meal is also, generally, quieter and more introspective as Shabbat is starting to come to an end. 


  • Recite haMotzi, the blessing over the challah.
  • After eating, sometimes softer, quieter songs are sung and words of Torah shared as the mood is shifting towards the end of Shabbat.




On Saturday evenings, many families say goodbye to Shabbat with a short ceremony that includes ritual objects to help us remember the beauty of Shabbat as the new week begins.

Havdalah, literally “separation” in Hebrew, is Shabbat’s closing ritual, when three stars appear on Saturday evening. In a simple multi-sensory ceremony, with blessings over lights, wine or grape juice, and spices, Havdalah is an inspiring way to end Shabbat and start the new week as a family.


The three ritual objects needed for the ritual of Havdalah are a wine cup, a multi-wick candle and a spice mix (cinnamon, cloves and anise are popular for Havdalah but any will do!).

Each symbol relates to our senses: wine is for taste; the spices are for smell; the candle is for sight; the blessings are spoken, sung, and heard. We use our sense of touch when we pass around these ritual objects, tangible reminders of separation, and when we join hands or link arms as a family and/or community.


Special Havdalah Reading:


My soul longs for the candle and the spices.
If only you would pour me a cup of wine for Havdalah.
O angels on high, pave a way for me,
clear the path for the bewildered [daughter of Zion]
and open the gates that I may enter.
My heart yearning,
I shall lift up my eyes to the Lord,
who provides for my needs day and night.
From the treasures of your goodness,
give me the minimum I need,
for your goodness has no end nor limit.
Rejuvenate my joy, my bread and my blessing,
Remove all sorrow, pain and darkness.
Now the days of activity begin once again
May they be renewed in peace and in goodness.

Click here to hear this poem sung.


  • Eli Eliyahu is a traditional Iraqi Havdalah poem and song for Havdalah.
  • Poetry for Havdalah is a collection of Israeli Poetry, moderated by Dr. Rachel Korazim.







  • Explore “To Each Their Own Shabbat,” a collection of poetry by Israeli poets.
  • Visit Dr. Rachel Korazim’s website, which hosts lectures and poetry source sheets from Israeli poets. She has a section for Shabbat, all of which would enhance your Shabbat experience.
  • Here is a collection, which includes poems about visiting and being in Israel by Yehuda Amichai and other Israeli poets. The collection includes thoughtful discussion questions.



These channels/playlists can help you to get ready for Shabbat. Depending on your use of technology, you may want to play for your guests before Shabbat begins or have it on in the background.

Musical Compare and Contrast:

Here are two songs about the experience of Israel:

Listen, read the lyrics and discuss:

  • What strikes you about the messaging?
  • How does the genre of each song play into their meaning?
  • As a Diaspora Jew, which connects more to your understanding/connection to Israel?


  • For young children: Read your favorite PJ Library books about Israel!
  • For tweens: Learn the fun card game Taki, created by Israeli inventor Haim Shafir, and play with your friends!
  • For teens: Read and act out a short play about Israeli heroes Hannah Senesh and/or Yitzhak Rabin from the collection Extraordinary Jews.
  • For adults: Share photos and memories of experiences in Israel – or, for those who haven’t yet visited, hopes for what you’d like to see and do there. Share: “What place in Israel inspires you the most and why?”


These activities relate to the parsha (Torah portion) for the week, Acharei Mot-Kedoshim (Leviticus: 19:1-37), focusing on the text in which God issues a variety of commandments, instructing the Israelites on how to be a holy people. Read the parsha and find commentary here.

  • For young children: Kedoshim includes many of the laws that are part of the 10 commandments, including the law about keeping Shabbat. Invite children to share ways that Shabbat is special for them and things that they like about Shabbat. Explain that Jewish people in Israel and all over the world celebrate Shabbat!
  • For tweens: Read and act out the parsha play (available here) about Kedoshim.
  • For teens: Read and discuss the laws in Kedoshim that guide human beings about how to respect and get along with each other. Ask teens to share which laws resonate with them today. What laws would they add or create to help humans get along better in their communities?
  • For adults: Discuss the meaning of this famous sentence in the parsha:

Adonai spoke to Moses saying: Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them, “You shall be holy, for I, Adonai your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:1-2).

What does it mean to be part of a holy community? In what ways do you feel connected to Israel as part of your community? What are the challenges for American Jews in feeling that we are in community with Israeli Jews?


Ahad Ha’am, author and founder of Cultural Zionism said: “More than the Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.” What do you think this means and how does it apply to your connection with Shabbat?

Reasons to Love Israel – Can you add more?:

Conversation Starters

  • What do you think Israel will be like 50 years from now?
  • What things about Israel do you think Israelis are proud of?
  • What would you like to ask an Israeli about Israel?
  • What images come to mind when you hear the word Israel?
  • What is Israel most famous for?
  • What has Israel given the world?
  • If you have been to Israel, where is your favorite place? If you haven’t been to Israel, where would you want to visit in Israel?
  • What is your favorite Israeli food?

Check out these photos and questions guide from Makom Israel that can be printed out in advance and lead to interesting conversations.


Here are some interesting numbers as found in Guttman Center of the Israel Democracy Institute for the Avi Chai Foundation’s 2009 “A Portrait of Israeli Jewry — Beliefs, Observances and Values Among Israeli Jews.”

  • Sabbath Observance and Customs Approximately one-third of respondents report that they observe the Sabbath “meticulously” or “to a great extent”.
  • Half said that tradition is “very important” or “important” for what they do on the Sabbath.
  • More than 80% state that they “always” or “frequently” make an effort to be with their family on the Sabbath.
  • More than two-thirds say this about eating a special dinner on Friday night.
  • Only about 10% say that they “always” or “frequently” work for pay on the Sabbath.
  • Only about 15% report that they go shopping on the Sabbath.



Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia

Since 1901, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has served as the hub of the region’s Jewish communities, providing an infrastructure of support for Jewish people and organizations in need. Through the various grants, emergency funding, restricted gifts, endowments and our partnership with the Foundation for Jewish Day Schools, we distribute more than $40 million each fiscal year to care for those in need and build a thriving and vibrant Jewish community locally, in Israel and around the world.

jkidphilly of the Jewish Learning Venture

Jewish Learning Venture‘s mission is to inspire and empower people to make Jewish life, learning, and community relevant and meaningful. We envision individuals and families engaged in dynamic, connected Jewish life in Greater Philadelphia and beyond. Our initiatives, including jkidphilly, Whole Community Inclusion and Jewish Education and Leadership Development, guide families as well as leaders of Jewish organizations to see Judaism as a means to a thriving life.


Download Printable Resource Guide