Elevate Your Shabbat:
Transforming Your Friday Night Meal

Sometimes people apologize to me for not attending Shabbat services more regularly, as if I’m taking attendance. I know every family has their own Friday night ritual, and rather than apologies, I want to hear about your Shabbat meal instead!

Sharing a meal brings people together like no other activity. Whatever else is on the agenda, the food is where the real bonding happens. This is the essence of the Year of Renewal Oneg Challenge. A generous donor sponsored half of the regular Friday night onegs for the past year and challenged the congregation to host the other half. The Challenge’s purpose is to bring people together after services so they can get to know each other, share stories, and make future plans. We are so grateful to this visionary donor and to the motivated Temple Sinai membership who stepped up to create a year of delicious friendship.

So, if you’re not schlepping to Temple for Friday night Shabbat services, then I hope you are luxuriating over a delicious meal with friends or family. But maybe you’ve just been having, y’know, dinner. With a few tweaks, we can elevate your Friday night nosh to something Shabbat-worthy.

Tip 1: Bring Out the Good Stuff
A Shabbat meal should feel a little more special than a mid-week dinner. This is the perfect time to open up one of those special-occasion bottles of wine, try a new recipe, or revive an old favorite. Whatever the indulgence, big or small, it’s never wasteful because we are celebrating the abundance of Shabbat.

Tip 2: Reach Out to Others
Invite friends over for a potluck meal. Pick up the phone and call or text a friend just to say Good Shabbos. Put down your phone and focus on your family. Sharing Shabbat with others enriches the experience and strengthens community bonds.

Tip 3: Be Intentional
If you’re uncertain of the blessings that are traditionally said over Shabbat, all your bases are covered by blessing the candles, wine, and bread. Another way to start your meal is to take some deep, calming breaths and set a spiritual intention for the evening. These small rituals can transform an ordinary meal into a meaningful celebration.

As our Year of Renewal Oneg Challenge continues at Temple Sinai, I also challenge you to celebrate Shabbat at home. I would love to hear about your experiences, or even better, receive an invitation to join you. 😉 Let’s make every Friday night a moment of joy, connection, and renewal.

Tova McGilvray