In a world dominated by computers, smart phones, tablets and all sorts of other kinds of media Shabbat is truley a G-d send. For 25 hours each week we can unplug from the crazyness and celebrate a more simple kind of life. Some of the amazing things that happen on Shabbat are families sit down and enjoy a lesiurly dinner together and actually talk to each other undistracted by emails and text. Teenagers willingly and happily spending time with their families. Kids magically spend 25 hours happily playing with out the aid of electricity and they are not bored! Husbands and wives find time to be together uninterrupted by the demands of work and their kids normally busy extra curricular activities. J and I actually take a nap together almost every Shabbat afternoon. Honestly it seems like a modern day miracle to me.

I know that many people can clearly see the wisdom of Shabbat but they also think that it would be impossible for them to actually observe Shabbat. I am here to say that anyone can observe all of Shabbat. J is an investment banker and he manages to as do all 25 hours of it as do many, many others who also have demanding careers.

I think what stops people from observing what is to many is an obviously brilliant way to spend their time is that they feel like they just don't know where to start. I think that the best place to start is by starting with just one part of it. Maybe it's Friday night dinner or maybe your family is Media free all day on Saturday. Below are some ideas of how to start and how to add on. This can be done in the order that works best for you and your family.

The easiest place for many to start is by having a family and/or friends dinner.  Yes I know that even this can seem overwhelming but I have a few tips for beginers. You should invite friends over and if you have teens or kids invite your friends who have kids the same age as yours. Make sure that you serve a meal that your family will find special. This means that you might make your spouse/special someone a dish that they really like or that you serve your kids a special dessert. Last but not least try your best to ban cell phones at the Shabbat table. It is not an unreasonable request to ask your family to spend an hour or two with their cell phones off. Though I am one who is loath to bribe children you might want to consider letting the kids know that their having dessert is contingent on them not using their electronica at the table (make sure that it is a crazy good dessert!).

There is a possibility that your first dinner may not be as succesful as you want but keep trying. You know your family best and you are the one who is best equipped to figure out what you need to tweek to get it right. Before J and I became observant we used to listen to music when we ate. For us our first step was only listening to Jewish composers while we ate Shabbat dinner.

The next step would be to begin to incorporate Shabbat into Saturday. One way to do this is to find a Synagogue that you like and attend Shabbat Morning services. I know that for many people it seems like Friday night is the best time to attend services but when you are trying to incorperate Shabbat into your life it is really important to go on Shabbat morning. If you have kids find a Synogougue that has a good kids program. If you are interested in trying a more traditional Synogougue many of those have special services called begginer minyans. A lot of it is in English with lots of explanations to boot. Most importantly everyone is new at the service so they tend to be super friendly and super supportive.

Even if you are checking out a synogouge that everyone walks to please don't worry about how you get there. We took the subway up to the Upper West side for almost a year before we moved there. There were just no Synogogues in our neighborhood that we connected to and the most important thing to do when you are trying to incorporate Shabbat into your life is to find a community that you feel connected to. By the way you might want to check out a few Synogougues alone until you find one that you think will work best for you and your family.

It is quite possible that you will have some resistance from you older kids and spouses when it comes to Saturday observnces. This is normal. You might find that your husband is fine with Friday night dinner but uts his foot down on Saturday morning services. Even in the observant community spouces are not alway at the same level when it comes to different obsevances. There were a few years when I was completely Sabath observant and my husband was not. He began Shabbat when ever he came home and if something urgent was going on at work he dealt with it. Though I would have obviously preffered to have him on the same page as I was at the time we made it work with out too much effort.

For some families after synogouge it's time to get back to their regular programing but for others services morf into Shabbat lunch

When I was growing up we often went to Synogogue on Shabbat and holidays but then we went to the pool club or  went shopping in the afternnon. I consder this all part of my religious continum and a legitimate way to celebrate Shabbat.


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