The home is the centre of Shabbat celebration. It may be the one time in the week when the family can eat and spend time together.

When Shabbat begins it is customary for the Mother to light two Shabbat candles, recalling the two commandments to remember and observe the Sabbath, and recites a blessing. The men of the household may be at synagogue for the first service of Shabbat. On his return home, the father may bless the children.

At the beginning of the meal Kiddush the blessing over the wine is said and the cup shared - it is said that there is no joyful occasion without wine in Judaism. Two Challot loaves of plaited bread are blessed, seasoned with salt and shared. These recall the two portions of manna provided by God in the wilderness when their ancestors were escaping from slavery in Egypt.

Food is prepared before Shabbat starts and may be kept warm with the use of a 'blech' - a metal sheet laid over the cooker hob with one ring on a low flame, providing variations in heat.

On Saturday evening, at the end of Shabbat, the havdalah ceremony takes place and the children are blessed.

During Shabbat the melachot are interpreted for today's circumstances so that nothing creative is done. The commandment not to create fire (even a spark) means that nothing electrical may be used and a car's ignition may not be started and no telephone used (and for the student who asked, they may remove or loosen the fridge lightbulb). Some Jews use timers on their heating and lighting appliances to avoid switching them on or off.

      © Mr.B at Woodford County High School