- Bake Challah with your children
- Make a Shabbat item with your children
- Light Shabbat Candles with your children
- Recite blessings together at the table
- Sing songs together at the table
- Discuss together at the table
- Play board games and/or read books together
- Do an outside activity together
- Make Havdalah together
- Watch a family movie together
There is nothing like the smell of freshly baked challah to usher in the Shabbat mood and make everyone want to sit down to eat a festive meal together. And there is nothing that makes children so proud as when they can can bring food they made to the table. If challah isn't your thing, children are great at helping to prepare salads and desserts.
How to Make Challah
Challah covers, Havdalah candles, Havdalah spice holders and Tzedakah boxes are fun Shabbat items for children to make.
Children love rituals. And rituals with fire are the most exciting. Enabling your child to participate in the Shabbat candle lighting ritual is a simple way to give your child the feel of Shabbat. A child who is allowed to experience Shabbat first-hand, rather than to watch it being experienced by the parents, is more likely to feel positively connected to the Jewish celebration.
How to light Shabbat candles
Friday Night Dinner
Children love to recite the blessing over the bread, HaMotzi, or over the wine, Kiddush. It gives them the opportunity to show what they have learned and, again, to experience Shabbat first-hand rather than as a spectator.
Aren't the dining hall song fests some of your fondest memories of summer camp? You can create that same feeling of belonging and fun simply by singing at your own table. We find the time between clearing the dinner dishes and bringing in the dessert to be the best time for some cheerful Shabbat songs. The singing always leads to laughter.
The Sabbath marks the end of one week and the beginning of a new week. The Shabbat table is the perfect place to ask your children about last week's highs and lows and next week's plans and hopes. Some families like to discuss current events and others the weekly Torah portion. As long as the children are talking and the parents are listening, I believe the discussions will be a great success.
Friday Night After Dinner
If the rule is "no screens allowed" (at least for a couple of hours), the children will be much more likely to focus on and enjoy an after dinner family activity. And in the long run, the children are more likely to remember and be positively affected by a fun game of monopoly or charades they played with their family than by another computer game played or television show watched alone.
Saturday is the perfect day for a family walk, ball game, or park outing. Errands can be put off a day and the kids' sports activites can be worked around, so that at least an hour of the day can be devoted to a family Shabbat activity.
Havdalah, the brief ceremony that marks the end of the Sabbath, is short, simple, sweet and spiritual. Havdalah is definitely one of my children's favorite religious rituals.
How to make Havdalah
Our Havdalah "Shavua Tov" song usually flows right into a chorus of "video time" cheers. For my younger children, the television most clearly symbolizes the movement from spiritual back to mundane. If you can find the time, watching a Saturday night family movie with your children is a great way to move into the new week together.