During Shabbat, we learn to take time: time to slow down, time to consider our role in the world, time to rest. Below, you’ll find suggestions for Shabbat activities for families with tweens and teens, but we want to know: How do you make Shabbat meaningful for your kids? Leave a comment on this post to let us know!
- Use our Jewish Parent Page resources to start a conversation with your teens about (an on!) Shabbat. These conversation topics and discussion questions. On this page, you’ll also find blessings, historical background, recipes, family activities and other creative ways to celebrate Shabbat.
- Learn the blessing (b’rachah) for children that is traditionally said on Friday nights and take the time bless your teens. While they may find it silly at first, it can become profoundly meaningful if you add your own thoughts and wishes for them to the traditional words.
- Set aside one Shabbat each month as “nature Shabbat” and take time to be outdoors together — hike in a local park, go to the beach, or relax in the yard together for a period of time to appreciate creation.
- If being outdoors is not of interest to your family, look for other opportunities to experience quiet and serenity together like meditation, massage, reading aloud or individually in the same room, doing a jigsaw puzzle together or attending services.
- Listen to Jewish music. Browse the selection at URJ Books and Music (start with the Ruach collections), tune into JewishRockRadio.com, or ask your teens if they’re familiar with any websites from which it can be downloaded. Ask them to play a favorite song for you and talk about why it’s a favorite or their memories of when they first heard it.
- Identify cultural events that family members all enjoy and make a commitment to experience them together. A museum, play, or concert can provide opportunities for time together and conversation on Shabbat.
- Cook together! Teach your teens to make classic Jewish foods like kugel, challah, and matzah ball soup with these recipes or your family’s traditional recipes.
- Take off your watch and put down your phone. Spend a day feeling less concerned about where you and your teens need to be and when, and try to just be!
- Encourage your teens to change their sheets on Friday morning as a reminder that care of the body is important (and may also encourage them to take a nap on Shabbat!).
- Consider a green Shabbat. Ask your teens to help you identify ways you can minimize your impact on the earth each week (such as eating vegetarian food or refraining from using appliances) on Shabbat. Visit the URJ’s Greening page for additional resources and ideas.
- Choose a family justice (tzedakah) project which you can change periodically. Learn about the issue you’ve chosen together and discuss ways your family can jointly engage in repair of the world (tikkun olam).
- Talk as a family about ways to prevent parental work, homework, athletics, chores and other obligations from taking over the whole weekend, by setting aside time on Shabbat that is free from these types of activities. Consider making a family commitment to everyone being home for Shabbat or having all family members eat Shabbat dinner together before going out with friends.
This post was adapted from The Jewish Parent Page, Vol. 12, No. 13