The following letter submitted to Women in Judaism, is an inspiring expression of the beauty of Jewish ritual and a perfect way to introduce our class on lighting candles for Shabbat…
Dear Mrs. Kohn:
I cannot tell you how I have enjoyed your classes in the past five months. As a young Jewish woman in a mostly gentile community, you have helped me define my place not only in my spiritual country, but my immediate one as well.
Since being blessed three years ago with a beautiful daughter, Jael, I have felt the need to become more involved and attached to my roots. First, that meant reading books, and then attending synagogue. Gradually, I have felt myself becoming more and more of what some would call a true-blue Jew. Somehow, I neglected the very important ritual and renewal of lighting the Shabbat candles.
Please, help me get started. I’m very eager and willing to learn.
PREPARATORY GUIDELINES AND INSTRUCTIONS:
- Place candles on the table where you plan to eat dinner, or in a prominent place where you can see them from the dinner table.
- Single women may prepare either one or two candles. A married woman generally prepares two candles. She may add an additional candle for each of her children. (Young girls of three or older, who are capable of understanding the concept of Shabbat, can be provided with a candlestick and taught to kindle Shabbat lights.)
- Some have a custom of putting a few coins in a charity box (“pushke”) prior to lighting.
- It is important to light your candles on time. Candles are lit 18 minutes before sunset every Friday. Young girls should light just prior to this time.
- For a yearly chart of candle lighting times in the New York area, please call the Jewish Educational Program at (914) 425-7556. Leave a clear message with your mane and address. For candle lighting times outside of New York, please contact Mrs. Esther Sternberg of the Lubavitch Women’s Organization at (718) 774-2060.
PROCEDURE FOR LIGHTING SHABBAT CANDLES
- Light the candles. Next, spread your hands in a circular motion around the candles, drawing your hands inward towards yourself each time to indicate the acceptance of Shabbat.
- Cover your eyes and recite the following blessing, in Hebrew or in English:
“Blessed are You, Hashem Our God, King of the Universe, who sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the light of the Sabbath”
“Boruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Melech Ho-olom A-sher Ki-de-sha-nu Be-mitz-vo-sov Vi-tzi-vo-nu Le-had-lik Ner Shel Sha-bos”
- Uncover your eyes and look at the Shabbat lights. At this time, you may wish to add your own words of prayer or thanksgiving.
We received many requests for Shabbat candle lighting instruction, and hope that our class will help in observing this special practice. Please feel free to email “[email protected]” us with any further questions.
Women in Judaism, Copyright (c) 2000 by Mrs. Leah Kohn and ProjectGenesis, Inc.