Shabbat Shalom: A laid back morning
The best thing about Shabbat morning is that, whether you wake up too late or too early, there is not much you can do about it. No need to set an alarm clock. No Facebook feed to mindlessly thumb through. The morning has a peaceful air to it. It is yours for the taking.
If you’re an early riser, there might be time to read that book that has been looking at you from your bedside table for the good part of a year, or channel your inner child and play with your kids.
If not, it’s time to throw on some clothes and head off to the synagogue. But either way, every decision you make today will be the right one, as it truly is a day of peace and serenity. This is why you’ll hear people greeting you on your way with a hearty “Shabbat Shalom” – it means: “May peace be upon you.” And you can respond in the same way, offering up a Shabbat Shalom in return.
Don’t panic if you’re not within walking distance to a synagogue. Use this time to relax some more (you’ll be surprised at just how much relaxing you can do, given the chance), thank G-d for the positive things in your life or read an excerpt of the weekly Torah portion. The weekly Torah portion is read aloud, or chanted, from the Torah scroll as part of the Torah service on Shabbat day. The same portion is read aloud in every single synagogue around the world. Take time to embrace this unifying moment together with the rest of Am Yisrael.
The synagogue basics: Morning services
There are special Shabbat prayer services at every synagogue. They usually take 2-3 hours and are conducted in Hebrew, but you can follow along in your siddur/prayer book in English. Services include a combination of individual prayers, song and joint prayers.
The dress code for synagogue is generally formal – men in slacks or suits, and women in skirts or dresses. Modest attire is recommended for synagogue.
The service often includes a programme for kids, where they will sing and learn with other youth in the community. Many places also host a mid-morning meal, where members can hear the Kiddush prayer for Shabbat day, have a snack and catch up on the week’s news.
Not sure you’ll be attending shul? Pre-print your at home copy of the Kiddush day text, so you can recite it at home.
Attending a service is a great way to spend the morning as a family and connect with the community and G-d. If synagogue is not an option, then staying at home and relaxing or walking to the park can be just as enjoyable!
Depending on where you live, you may be surrounded by people out and about, dressed for Shabbat and on a mission. Little girls with bows in their hair. Boys who say no to their shirts being tucked in. Or you might pass just one other Shabbat keeper who you’ll greet with an awkward and muffled “Shabbat Shalom”, enjoying the fact that you’re in on a secret. Either way, Shabbat day has its own unique hustle and bustle. A relaxing day of peace. Shabbat Shalom.