What is Shabbat?

Shabbat is the Jewish Sabbath. The English word Sabbath came from the Hebrew word, Shabbat. It’s pronounced “shah-baht.” An alternative more Yiddish spelling is Shabbos and is pronounced “shah-biss.” Shabbat lasts from sundown on Friday until three stars are visible on Saturday night. The greetings for Shabbat are “Shabbat shalom” (Sabbath peace) or the Yiddish “gut Shabbos” (“good Sabbath”).

Shabbat features in the Ten Commandments, and the commandment to keep Shabbat is repeated in the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew scripture that provides the foundation for Judaism.

Shabbat is a day of rest and enjoyment for us at the end of the work week, just as God did at the end of the week of creation. Traditional Jews avoid doing any work, reserving the time for friends and family, pleasant walks and naps, prayer, and study.

Shabbat is a day of peace, rest, reflection, and hospitality for the entire community. The Torah invites all to share in the blessing of rest and explicitly includes those who are not Jewish to take a day of rest as well. Jews were the first community to establish this healthy custom of a day off from work.

The gift of Shabbat is part of God’s covenant with the Jewish people. Honoring the Sabbath is one way Jews have of maintaining that agreement.

The Guide to Shabbat and Havdalah for Interfaith Families is available as a PDF and our booklet Shabbat: What to Expect in the Synagogue, Shabbat Made Easy, and Havdalah Made Easy are available for download.

Return to the Guide to Shabbat and Havdalah for Interfaith Families.

Author: 18Doors


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 info@18doors.org.