How to Celebrate Shabbat…When You Miss Friday Night

Whoops! Missed lighting those Friday night candles? When the beginning of Shabbat comes and goes and you’re just happy you got something edible in your kids’ mouths and what could loosely pass as a bath, it’s OK! There’s still time to celebrate and honor the end of the week and bring in the coming week together as a family. There are tons of ways to continue celebrating this 24-hour long weekly holiday that are easy, fun and comfortable for interfaith families no matter how familiar–or not–you are with Shabbat rituals. The main thing is to take a pause in your busy lives to be together as a family.

Bedtime readingWhether you have 5 minutes, 10 minutes or one hour to spare, here are things you can still do in the spirit of Shabbat.

5 Minute ideas

  • Bless your children and each other. Mark time and pause to do this simple act.
  • On Shabbat, we mark time and say lots of blessings. But you don’t need to know any official words to note that something–a person, a rainbow, good news, bad news, an earthworm, peeing in a potty, any moment you want to mark–makes the world a better place just by being in it.
  • When you wash your hands before eating, think for a moment about all the amazing things you are able to do with them in a day – talk to your kids about it when you’re washing theirs.
  • Put all cell phones in a “sleep sack” or even a sock. Decide together as a family how long to be without electronics and just be together.
  • Ask your family to say what they are grateful for that week. Talk about gratitude and what it means for your family.

10 Minute ideas

  • Havdalah ceremony: Typically, Havdalah marks the end of Shabbat on Saturday night and can be just as nice as taking a moment to welcome the beginning of Shabbat–or even nicer. By Saturday evening, you’ve likely had a chance to catch your breath and it might be easier to enjoy these moments with your kids. Fun fact: you can do Havdalah as late as Tuesday night–even during the day. And if you do it between Sat night and Tuesday night you don’t have to use the candle or spices, so it’s even faster.
  • Read Jewish books with your kids, especially ones about Shabbat. Reading with kids brings a great sense of warmth and togetherness to Shabbat. Check out this list from the Jewish Book council–scroll down for some children’s titles.
  • Listen to Jewish music with the PJ Library Radio app which you can download from the iPhone or Google play store. Dance around and enjoy some silly time together. Check out this list from PJ Library of kid’s music that won’t drive you crazy.
  • Find a recipe for next week’s Shabbat meal. Perhaps it will be something new you can prepare together or an old favorite that reminds you of a happy memory.
  • Call/FaceTime a relative and reconnect. Connecting with, and surprising a loved one with an unexpected phone call can be a joyful experience for all.

1-hour ideas

dad and kids cooking

  • French toast challah breakfast on Saturday morning as a family. Try this recipe for challah French toast kabobs that kids can help assemble.
  • Family Shabbat dinner on Saturday. It doesn’t have to be Friday! Be creative, even with takeout.
  • Take a walk as a family and be thankful for your beautiful surroundings.
  • Bake some Pumpkin Spice Monkey Bread with Applesauce Glaze. Get a little messy and create a happy family memory.
  • Plan a nap into your day! Who doesn’t need a little nap (parents, I’m looking at you!)?
  • Play a Jewish board game like Torah slides and ladders or Jewish Apples to Apples.  Here are some suggestions from Board Game Geek.
  • Have a bedtime routine Havdalah ceremony. Wear pajamas, drink hot chocolate, make a spice box and make up a goodnight story.

Shabbat doesn’t need to be time-consuming or difficult to plan. Taking time to acknowledge each other and the world around you and give gratitude for those things can be a simple way to bring this moment into our lives, while still being present in our daily activities. Take that time to breathe for yourself and for your family.

And if you need a little help or want to do more, our cheat sheet can help you through.


18Doors is here to support interfaith couples and families exploring Jewish life. We offer educational content; connections to welcoming organizations, professionals and programs; resources and trainings for organizations, clergy and other program providers; and our Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship provides offerings for couples in cities nationwide. If you have questions, please contact


Author: 18Doors