(Shah – BAHT, translation: Sabbath)

Shabbat is a time in which we celebrate the end of the week by beginning a time of rest, a time of focusing on gratitude, and a time of welcoming Shalom (Peace and wholeness) in our lives.

McGillis Celebration

At McGillis we light candles to wonder at the joy of letting light, goodness, optimism and hope into our lives. Lighting candles separates school work from weekend rest on Fridays, near the end of the school day. Lighting candles is a hopeful and definitive act, as "It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness". At McGillis we reflect on moments during the week when we "gave light" by sharing of ourselves, or "received light", by learning something new.

We drink grape juice with a blessing of gratitude for the sweet things in our lives, to remember the gifts from the earth, and celebrate with anticipation the joyful things to come.

We eat challah bread to marvel at the miracle of baking bread: taking the earth's resources and working with them to create something warm, soft to eat, and delicious. The braided bread also calls to mind the connectedness of each of us with one another, we are a "braided" community of many different religions, races, and belief systems, all coming together.

By saying (and singing) that we are grateful for these things that sustain us before we eat them, we are teaching our students to get into the habit of expressing gratitude for the earth's gifts and for the people who prepare food for them.

It is our tradition at McGillis to avoid scheduling events on Friday evenings or Saturday mornings in honor of Shabbat. Guests are welcome to attend our Shabbat celebration, please check with out front office.

Traditional Celebration

Shabbat marks the separation between the first six days of creation in the Bible and from a period of rest. The importance of Shabbat is emphasized in the Ten Commandments, "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy." It is considered the most cherished of all Jewish holidays, and established the idea of the weekend.

Traditional families do not work on Shabbat. They light candles, bless wine and bread to welcome Shabbat, they may also wash their hands in a ceremonial way and offer blessings to their children and to guests. Many celebrate a special meal with family and friends on Friday night, and go to synagogue on Saturday. Many people plan special time with their families on Shabbat.

Traditional foods common to all Shabbat celebrations are wine or grape juice, and bread, usually challah. The Shabbat meal begins with special blessings over these foods, but during the course of the meal, a Traditional family would make additional blessings over other foods. Every blessing honors the food and where it came from, the bread and wine do not have the symbolic meanings held in Christian communion or sacraments. Some foods remind the Jewish People of traditions and history, and so have a special place in our celebrations.

The conclusion of Shabbat on Saturday night is celebrated with the Havdallah (separation) ritual at sundown. Havdallah encompasses thanks for Shabbat and wishes for a sweet week to come with a special multi-wick candle, juice or wine, sweet spices, blessings, and song.