Enduring Understandings:

You will understand that...

  • Jews build community through holiday observance and ritual celebrations.

  • Jewish life is best lived in community.

  • The Jewish holidays teach us to appreciate the many cycles of renewal and rebirth.

Essential Questions:

What do you think?

  • What are some of the important lessons from these Jewish holidays?

  • How does the idea that Jews everywhere celebrate these same holidays connect me to the Jewish community?

I can explain the meaning and significance of the Shabbat symbols and ritual items

Let's dig even deeper. By now you know all of these holiday symbols and how to use them. You also know the blessings that go along with them. But why are they important? What is their significance to us today? 

We're going to focus on two ritual items - the נֵרוֹת and the חָלָה.



The way we light the שַׁבָּת נֵרוֹת is a little weird. Usually, we say a בְּרָכָה and then do the act. For example: If you're about to eat a sandwich, first you say הַמּוֹצִיא and then you take a bite of your sandwich. 

But when we light the שַׁבָּת נֵרוֹת we do it backwards. First we light the candles and then we say the בְּרָכָה. 

Why do you think this is?

Here's one answer: When we say the בְּרָכָה for the שַׁבָּת נֵרוֹת we are actually also beginning שַׁבָּת. Since we're not supposed to light a fire on שַׁבָּת we find ourselves in a bind: We want to say the בְּרָכָה and then light the candles, but we can't light the candles since we just started שַׁבָּת. 


To get over this bind, we light the candles and then cover our eyes while saying the blessing. When our eyes are opened, the already lit candles are enjoyed for the first time. This way we've said the בְּרָכָה and then done the act (of seeing the burning candles) without breaking שַׁבָּת.

Do you think it's important to not light a fire on שַׁבָּת? Since most of us don't light fires all the time - what might this rule mean for us in our lives?


There is a tradition that two whole challot should be used on שַׁבָּת. There are two possible reasons for this:


1. To remind us that when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness and eating the manna that fell from heaven - a double portion of manna would fall on Friday so no one would have to collect manna on שַׁבָּת. 


2. To remind us of the two commandments about שַׁבָּת: To remember and to observe. Did you know that the 10 Commandments are actually in the תּוֹרָה twice and they are a little different each time. The first set in the book of שְׁמוֹת tells us to "Remember Shabbat" and the second set in the book of דְּבָרִים tells us to "Observe Shabbat."

Which of these reasons makes the most sense to you? Why do you think we have two challot for שַׁבָּת?

Create an infomercial about one of the symbols of Shabbat. Imagine you are trying to sell this symbol. You'll need to talk all about its function, when it is used, how it is used and why it is valuable.

I can describe the big ideas of Shabbat and can draw connections to my life

There's a famous story about a great rabbi who lived about 2000 years ago named Hillel. He is challenged to teach the entire תּוֹרָה while standing on one foot. Since it's hard to balance on one foot for a long time Hillel had to sum up the most important lessons of the תּוֹרָה really quickly. In other words, he had to figure out what the BIG Ideas of the תּוֹרָה were. 


We're giving you the same challenge - but not for the whole תּוֹרָה, just for שַׁבָּת. Using all you've learned about these holy days - what would you say are the BIG ideas of שַׁבָּת?

Once you've got some BIG ideas think about what they have to do with your life. 

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I can recognize patterns amongst the holidays of the Jewish calendar and express the holidays' relationships to one another

Jewish חַגִּים are important and meaningful on their own but they are even more special when we see each Jewish חַג as part of a larger whole. Use the interactive Jewish calendar below to figure out what some of the connections are between different Jewish חַגִּים.

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Click above to visit our interactive Jewish Holiday calendar

I can use appropriate Shabbat vocabulary in proper context and demonstrate comprehension of their meanings

You've learned a whole bunch of Hebrew words for שַׁבָּת. You know the names of שַׁבָּת in Hebrew, the names of the symbols and the שַׁבָּת greetings. When you speak about שַׁבָּת with your family and friends, can you use all of these Hebrew words? Here are some of the Hebrew words you know related to שַׁבָּת:

Holiday Greetings

שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם - A Peaceful Shabbat
גוּט שַׁבָּת - Have a good Shabbat

Holiday Greetings

שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹם - A Peaceful Shabbat
גוּט שַׁבָּת - Have a good Shabbat

Holiday Symbols

כּוֹס יַיִן - Kiddush cup
חָלָה - Challah
נֵרוֹת - Candles
פָּמוֹט - Candle sticks

Write a children's book complete with illustrations using the holiday vocabulary above. If you do your best work - we might just read your book in our Pre-School program!

I can express the meaning of each b'racha associated with the Shabbat symbols and of selected t'tillot

Let's take a closer look at some of the בְּרָכוֹת and תְּפִלּוֹת we say on שַׁבָּת

Blessing over נֵרוֹת:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל שַׁבָּת.

This בְּרָכָה, tells us that it is a מִצְוָה to light candles for שַׁבָּת. Light is an important symbol in Judaism. We have the lights of the מְנוֹרָה the lights of the חֲנֻכִּיָּה and lights of remembrance. Why do you think we light candles for שַׁבָּת?


Blessing over כּוֹס יַיִן:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ. אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם בּורֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן:

When we say the בְּרָכָה over wine or grape juice (or any other food for that matter) we thank God for creating that food. But, wait, I thought the grape juice I'm drinking came from Publix? Why would we thank God for creating something that we can buy in any supermarket?


Blessing over washing hands:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעולָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְותָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיּם:

When we celebrate שַׁבָּת and sit at our dining room table, we imagine that table like the altar in the ancient Temple where the priests would make sacrifices. Since the priests would always wash their hands before working in the Temple, we wash our hands before eating at the table. But here's the weird part - we don't wash our hands with soap - just water. Why would we be washing our hands, like the priests did, with just water? What's the significance of that?

Blessing over חָלָה:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמּוֹצִיא לֶחֶם מִן הָאָרֶץ

The הַמּוֹצִיא blessing is said anytime you eat any kind of bread, but something is different on שַׁבָּת. We don't eat just any bread - we eat חָלָה a braided, egg bread made especially for שַׁבָּת and holidays. What do you think is the significance of the braided, egg bread? Maybe its just more delicious - or maybe it's something else.

Pair up with another student who is still learning these b'rachot and t'fillot and teach them how they are said and what they mean.

I can draw connections between the mitzvot and minhagim of Shabbat and the Shabbat narrative and big ideas

Think about all of the מִצְווֹת and מִנְהָגִים that we do on שַׁבָּת. How do these rituals tell the story of these holidays? Here's an example:

Lighting שַׁבָּת candles reminds us of the light that God created on the first day of Creation. When we see that light after uncovering our eyes, it's like seeing the very first light that filled the world when God said, "Let there be light." Lighting these lights reminds us that just as God made light in a dark world, we can also bring light where there is darkness.

Think of some of the other symbols and rituals of שַׁבָּת. Can you make connections between these symbols and rituals and the big ideas of the holidays?

I can express how the holiday values are lived through the ritual practices of Shabbat

There are some specific Jewish values that we learn from שַׁבָּת. Here is one of them: 



קְדֻשָּׁה means "holiness." The very first day in the that is called קוֹדֶש (holy) in the תּוֹרָה is שַׁבָּת. The rabbis explain that "holiness" means "separate" or "set apart." שַׁבָּת is a day that is "set apart" from all the other days of the week in how we behave and what we focus on. 

Ahad Ha’am was a Hebrew writer and Zionist. He famously said: “More than Jews have kept Shabbat, Shabbat has kept the Jews.” (And by the way, Ahad Ha'am wasn't a religious Jew. He was a secular Zionist! You can learn more about that here.)


Anyway - back to שַׁבָּת and קְדֻשָּׁה. There are lots of ways we make שַׁבָּת holy. We don't work on שַׁבָּת, we make קִדּוּשׁ over wine or grape juice (did you notice that the words קִדּוּשׁ and קְדֻשָּׁה have the same root of ק.ד.ש (holy)?), and we focus on the Creation of the world instead of the world of creation (that's a famous teaching by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.)

How do you, or could you, bring קְדֻשָּׁה into your שַׁבָּת? What things would you need to change or add to your שַׁבָּת celebration to make it more holy?

© 2019 by Rabbi David Paskin

JPaL is a program of Temple Sinai of North Dade
Call Us: 305-932-9012   /   rabbi.david@tsnd.org   /  18801 NE 22nd Ave, Miami, FL 33180