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The Best Shabbat Gifts for Your Shabbat Meal Hosts!

Shabbat (Shabbos or the Sabbath) is the Jewish day of rest that brings a welcome break from all the stress and pressures of the working week. Shabbat begins on Friday evening a few minutes before the sunset and continues until Saturday evening when the first three stars are visible in the sky. 

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Most Jewish families still celebrate the arrival of Shabbat with a special family dinner. There are many religious and traditional cultural rituals associated with Shabbat and there is sometimes confusion about what items you need for Shabbat and whether you can bring gifts on Shabbat. 

 

The rules vary across different Jewish communities, so we’ll give a broad overview of Shabbat etiquette. At the end of the day, how you honor Shabbat is a personal matter. If you’re invited to a Shabbat dinner, or you’re visiting people from a different tradition on Shabbat, the best thing to do is to ask them if they observe any particular rules or conventions. 

 

Can you Bring Gifts on Shabbat?

 

You can absolutely bring gifts on Shabbat! If you’ve been invited to a Shabbat dinner, it’s a mark of respect to honor your host’s hospitality with a gift. The only caveat is that some people will prefer to receive the gift before the actual start of Shabbat. It’s a simple matter of making sure you arrive at their home before the candle lighting. 

 

Can you bring food gifts on Shabbat?

What are Three Items Needed for Shabbat

Good food is a big part of Shabbat, and food gifts are often welcome. It’s best to coordinate with your host (and with other guests first). Your host might appreciate it if you ease the burden off cooking by preparing some of the Shabbat dishes at home and bringing them over. Other Shabbat hosts will be touched by a gift of challah or wine, or even chocolates for after the main meal. If you’re not sure what to bring, you’ll seldom go wrong with a gift of flowers. 

Can you bring Judaica gifts on Shabbat?

Can you bring food gifts on Shabbat?

Judaica Shabbat items are an amazing gift. A handmade Kiddush cup set from Jerusalem, or a challah board and knife can be a really special present. If your host already has the basics, try an embroidered challah cover or a wine fountain. Shabbat candlesticks, a candle lighter and a match cover are also great options. If you want to bring a Judaica gift for Shabbat, you’re not limited to items from the traditional Shabbat set. Modern Judaica collections include Israeli art prints and all kinds of home decor items. 

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What Items do you Need for Shabbat?

 

Traveling Jerusalem Candlesticks

People have their own ideas about what items you really need for Shabbat. The very basics are Shabbat candles and candlesticks, challah bread and some wine or grape juice. If you have those, you can create a special Shabbat atmosphere wherever you are. Perhaps the most important thing that you need for Shabbat is a sense of peace and the feeling that you worked hard and did your best to be a good person during the week.

 

Even the most secular Jewish men will often wear a kippah for the Shabbat blessing, although it’s usually taken off when the meal begins. If you’re attending a Shabbat dinner and you don’t normally wear a kippah, it’s definitely polite to put one on when the other men do. That aside, probably the only other thing you’ll need for a typical Shabbat is a big appetite. Friday night at least, is all about food. 

 

Do you Wish Someone a Happy Shabbat?

 

The typical Shabbat greeting is “Shabbat Shalom”. You’re wishing the recipient peace on Shabbat or a peaceful Shabbat. It’s a very simple greeting that is also very profound. Almost everybody in Jewish communities feels a lightening of the spirit and is in a better mood as Shabbat approaches. If you’re working or studying on Friday, you know that it’s a half day and everybody is usually more relaxed and cheerful.

 

Even in Israel – the international capital of stress, impatience, and rudeness – everybody takes life a little easier as Shabbat approaches. The opportunity to wish someone a happy Shabbat or Shabbat Shalom usually brings out the best in people. 

 

What is Forbidden on Shabbat?

 

Defining exactly what is forbidden on Shabbat is a thorny question. There’s a whole spectrum of opinions that range from the strictest Haredi interpretations of Shabbat observance, all the way to hardware atheists who view Judaism as an odd cultural inheritance and Shabbat as just another day. They’re probably happy to work or party on Shabbat if it suits them. 

 

Generally speaking, most people prefer not to work on Shabbat. Some people will try to avoid making any financial transactions, driving a vehicle or even handling fire and cooking food, and completing electrical circuits e.g., turning lights on and off, watching TV, or using the elevator in their building.

 

Most modern American Jews (and secular Israelis) observe a few basic Shabbat traditions of Friday evening at the Shabbat dinner and then enjoy their Saturday as a rest day or leisure day. What is usually forbidden on Shabbat – at least as much as possible – is ill feeling, quarreling, and discord. 

 

What are the Symbols of Shabbat?

silver Shabbat candlesticks

The most iconic symbols of Shabbat are lit Shabbat candles on silver Shabbat candlesticks. Candle lighting (or lamp or oil pot lighting) to welcome the arrival of Shabbat is an ancient ritual. A similar ritual was probably even observed by our polytheistic ancestors long before the founding of Judaism. 

 

If you were living in a wilderness or a prehistoric village where the night could mean total darkness – and danger – lamp lighting was both a necessity and a deeply reassuring ritual. Even today, candlelight is atmospheric and comforting, and almost everybody loves the moment of Shabbat candle lighting. 

 

Other symbols of Shabbat are the Kiddush wine and the blessing. Wine is another connection to our ancient past. The Israelites valued their vineyards and wine production was an important part of their economy. Thousands of years later, the Israeli wine industry is thriving and it’s possible that some modern vineyards are growing on exactly the same plots where grapes were harvested during the reigns of biblical kings like David and Solomon.  

To view our entier collection of Shabbat gifts

Celebrate Shabbat with Handmade Gifts from Jerusalem

anodized aluminum tableware

You can celebrate Shabbat in style, or honor a Shabbat host with handmade Shabbat Judaica from our Jerusalem workshop. You can choose from traditional and modern Shabbat silverware or modern anodized aluminum tableware. We’ll be happy to personalize your Shabbat gifts with blessings, names or dedications in any style, or even with colored enamel inlay. Talk to us about a personalized Shabbat set, or even about commissioning a unique handcrafted item to your own specifications. 

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Common Questions and Answers - FAQ

Shabbat is a special time to celebrate with family and friends, and giving a thoughtful gift is a great way to show your appreciation. Whether you’re looking for something special for your host or just want to give something meaningful, there are plenty of options when it comes to Shabbat gifts. From traditional Judaica items like candlesticks and challah covers to more modern gifts like art prints and puzzles, there are plenty of great Shabbat gift ideas that will make the recipient feel appreciated. With these ideas in mind, you can find the perfect gift that will be enjoyed for years to come.

Some inexpensive Shabbat gifts include:

  • A set of Shabbat candles
  • A challah cover
  • A kiddush cup
  • A small mezuzah for a doorpost
  • A book about the customs and traditions of Shabbat
  • A box of homemade Shabbat treats (such as challah or rugelach)
  • A potted plant (such as a small herbs or flowers)
  • A painting or print of a Shabbat-related image.

Some unique Shabbat gifts include:

  • A personalized Shabbat cand holder
  • A handmade challah board
  • An ornate kiddush cup
  • A unique mezuzah case
  • A Shabbat-themed piece of art, such as a painting or sculpture
  • A custom-made set of Shabbat cand sticks with special design
  • A subscription box for monthly Shabbat-themed items
  • A unique challah recipe book
  • A Shabbat themed game or puzzle
  • A gift certificate for a Shabbat or Jewish cooking class

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