Imagine looking forward to Fridays, not only because it’s the start of the weekend, but because you can make challah and light candles to welcome Shabbat. This built-in way to unwind from the week and mark the passing of time can make such an impact on our wellbeing, but it takes a little groundwork to learn how to celebrate Shabbat at home as part of your weekly routine with your partner.
Celebrating Shabbat is an opportunity to connect with your significant other and bring a sense of spirituality into your home. This holiday is also celebrated at synagogue and through events in the Jewish community, but there are lots of easy ways to partake on your own. Give it a try and hopefully you’ll quickly feel the benefits of this weekly holiday.
Here are some things you can try to feel more connected to the holiday magic and have the best at-home Shabbat with your partner:
Bread-baking has been a highlight of many people’s quarantine hobbies lately, so why not give challah a try? There are so many unique recipes you can try, and if you’re feeling fancy, you can practice a challah with a seven-strand braid! (And here’s a classic recipe if you want to start there.)
We spend a lot of our week in front of a computer screen or on endless Zoom calls—take this chance to do something together that doesn’t involve zoning out in front of Netflix for the hundredth night in a row. Whether you start a new tradition of Shabbat game night or cozy up against books, you’ll be glad to take some time without the buzz of a cell phone or the ping of your email. Make a list of games you want to try, and see how many of them you can get through!
Meet other couples from all across the country as you get together to celebrate the end of the week. You can sign up to be a OneTable host and you’ll have access to all of their amazing resources around Shabbat. Not comfortable hosting? That’s OK! Search for virtual dinners, and once we’re socializing in person again, you can get together with new friends for Shabbat at your homes.
It can be really helpful to create a physical separation between the work week and the weekend. When you’re done with work on Friday, grab your partner and take a stroll through your neighborhood. Notice the smell of the air with the changing seasons and unwind from the long week. Check out your local Audubon’s sites and sanctuaries—they’ll have plenty of trails to explore and you might even get to see some wildlife in their natural habitat.
One of my favorite things about being Jewish is practicing tikkun olam, or repairing the world. Choose a local charity to support or work on a project that will impact your community. We love finding projects from Repair the World, a nonprofit that mobilizes young adults all over to make an impact on their communities.
Havdalah is a service on Saturday evening that marks the end of Shabbat and the start of the week. You can do it on your own using this easy how-to and a two-wick Havdalah candle which can be purchased at a Jewish gift store or online. Use this time to practice mindfulness, set intentions for the week ahead, or just enjoy the smell of the spices traditionally inhaled during Havdalah. Traditionally, Shabbat ends when we can count three stars in the sky. Why not grab some dessert, find a field or somewhere with less light pollution and stargaze with your partner? Talk about a romantic date night. Too cold? You can gaze from the warmth of your car, or take a brisk walk.
Spend your Friday night cooking up something fun with your partner. Put a new spin on a traditional Shabbat meal (like this Ethiopian schnitzel with hot honey!) or try a mash-up of the many cultures we see reflected in the Jewish community (like these brisket tacos with pickled onions). We have recipes that highlight flavors from many cultures and traditions and range from quick and easy to ones that allow you to flex your culinary skills together.
In Judaism, we have blessings for just about everything, including a blessing for your partner or spouse. Spend your Shabbat evening writing each other a new version of that blessing each week, until you have enough to fill a book! In no time, you’ll have a perfect gift or keepsake that will remind you of how grateful you are for your partner and how restorative Shabbat can be.