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13 Steps to a Holy Day

Lessons from one family’s Shabbat ritual

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Illustration Credit: Shabbat Shalom by Joani Rothenberg

Our family welcomes the Sabbath on Friday night after sundown with several friends. I’ve done the same thing more than a thousand times. But it doesn’t feel repetitive. It feels grounding. Over time I’ve learned the power of adopting practices and doing them consistently.1. Winding Down: During the day at work, I know I’m heading toward the Shabbat sundown deadlines. So I finish up whatever I can, and I communicate with colleagues on my progress. If something’s not done, I commit to finishing it the next week. Because at sundown, it’s all going to stop.2. Tidying Our Space: I’m already feeling overwhelmed by then, and housework is always at the bottom of my priority list, so this is no deep clean. There is a semblance of order and calm that descends on our space. It soothes all our nerves.3. Cooking for the Sabbath: This does much to assuage my guilt that I’m not creating dinners worthy of Martha Stewart all week long. I always make plenty of food. Often we host another family or a gaggle of guests.4. Wearing White: As sundown approaches, we put on our whites, or “Shabbat shirts,” and look sharp. This s …

Adapted from Secrets of the 7th Day: How Everyone Can Find Renewal Through the Wisdom and Practices of the Sabbath, White Cloud Press.

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