Holidays / Shabbat / Shabbat Readings

Blessing For Anyone Who Wasn't Born Jewish ('Cause We Know This Is A Lot)

-Rabbi Janet Marder

So here is the thing, half of the Jewish families that we know are headed by a couple where one of them is not Jewish. And we think eureka! That is great! Why isn’t there a blessing for that person who is not Jewish but participating in a Jewish home/life! And… there is! And we love it and hope you do too!

First line: May everyone who shares in a Jewish life feel welcomed and integrated. Last line: We pray with all of our hearts that the gifts and blessings you have given to your family, to the community, and to the Jewish People, will come back to you and fill your life with joy and fulfillment…

A Blessing For The Intermarried

-Rabbi Daniel Zemel

David Gregory from CNN, NBC, MSNBC, etc. wrote a book called How’s Your Faith? where he writes about finding his. Gregory’s wife, Beth, is not Jewish, but they are raising their kids as Jews. Anyway, the point of all this is that this relevant blessing is in his book and you are gonna love it!

First line: Many of you have made the historic and unprecedented decision to raise Jewish children. Last line: Your presence here makes us stronger and wiser…

Some Instructions For Life

-Jackson Brown and H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

We love this reading! One look will tell you why.

First line: 1. Give people more than they expect and do so cheerfully. Last line: 30. Share your knowledge, it’s a way to achieve immortality…

The Sabbath Renews Us

-Mordecai Kaplan

Taking time to rest on Shabbat doesn’t make us lazy. It’s a time for renewal, which we all need at the end of a busy week.

First line: An artist cannot be continually wielding a brush. Last line: This applies to the individual and to the community alike…

The Pause Between The Notes

-Author Unknown

A life well-lived requires rest. If this is news to you, you’ll thank us once you catch on!

First line: A great pianist was once asked by an admirer, “How do you handle the notes as well as you do?” Last line: And it is to Shabbat that we look to restore to our lives the sense of serenity and sanctity that Shabbat offers…

Between Memory And Hope

-Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel, a well-known Jewish writer, activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor shares his memories of the feeling Shabbat evoked in him as a child in this short reading. It’s the same feeling we want for our children today.

First line: I shall never forget Shabbat in my town. Last line: As it enveloped the universe, the Shabbat conferred on it a dimension of peace, an aura of love…

Unconditional Love

-Rabbi Joshua Loth Liebman

The kids that really flourish are often the ones who have been given real unconditional love by their parents. Beautiful lesson, beautiful reading.

First line: Give your children unconditional love, a love that is not dependent on report cards, clean hands, or popularity. Last line: Out of these laws will be built the Declaration of Independence that, in turn, will make the world free, democratic, safe, creative…

To The Creation Of The World

-Abraham Joshua Heschel

Abraham Joshua Heschel, a well-known Rabbi and Jewish thinker, shares the idea that Shabbat is a time to celebrate time. After a week of back-to-back meetings, school pick-ups, soccer games and more that’s an idea we can get behind.

The Mayonnaise Jar And Two Cups Of Coffee

-Author Unknown

A short story about a mayonnaise jar, which is actually about the things that we choose to fill our lives with.

A Simple Smile

-Barbara Hauck

A smile for a stranger started with a chain reaction that saved the life of a would-be President, and other reasons why smiling is a mitzvah (good deed).

First line: She smiled at a sorrowful stranger. Last line: All this because of a simple smile that hadn’t cost a cent…

The Story Of The Guarantors

-Author Unknown

This reading is often recited at baby namings, B mitzvahs, etc because it points out the future of everything, even Judaism, lies in the next generation.

First line: When Israel stood to receive the Torah, God said to them: “I am giving you my Torah. Give to me good guarantors that will guard it, and I shall give it to you.” Last line: God said: “They are certainly good guarantors. For the sake of your children, I give you the Torah.”… 

Prayer For Our Country

-Robert F. Kennedy

Beautiful and famous reading by Robert Kennedy. A real crowd pleaser because the truth is beautiful.

First line: Let no one be discouraged by the belief that there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world’s ills, misery, ignorance and violence. Last line: Crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples can build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance…

Another Prayer For Our Country

-Rabbi Ayelet Cohen

Chances are, if you are reading this for your family’s reunion or Thanksgiving celebration, you are living in the US and to be honest, your country could use a prayer right now. But, this reading is not specifically for the US, in fact, there probably isn’t a country in the world that could not use a little or lot of prayer right now. This one is a beauty.

First line: Our God and God of our ancestors, bless this country and all who dwell within it. Last line: Let justice well up like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream…

Visions Of Peace

-Yehuda Amichai

So short and beautifully eloquent.

First line: Don’t stop after beating the swords into ploughshares, don’t stop! Last line: Whoever wants to make war again will have to turn them into ploughshares first…

The Guest House

-Rumi

You know how sometimes we still teach children to be cheery and happy? Well, that is bulls*#t and simply not normal. All emotions are significant and should be respected. Rumi knew this in the 13th century.

First line: This being human is a Guest House. Last line: Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond…

The Invitation

-Oriah Mountain Dreamer

We use this reading so often! Weddings, Shabbat… you name it. It never fails to please. We love all of the readings on JewBelong, but we love this one a little bit extra.

First line: It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. Last line: I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments…

The Final Analysis

-Mother Teresa

This is a sweet reading by the famous Mother Teresa. If you don’t believe in God, just drop the last verse and it’s still strong.

First line: People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. Last line: You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway…

Teaching Your Children About God

-Rabbi David J. Wolpe

Might be our favorite reading. Not kidding.

First line: There was once a man who stood before God, her heart breaking from the pain and injustice in the world. Last line: God responded, “I did, I sent you.”…

Restoring Ourselves Through Shabbat

-Author Unknown

This reading is great for anyone who feels lazy or even a guilty twinge at the idea of a rest day. It’s the opposite. Resting on Shabbat helps us do the hard work the rest of the week. Don’t cheat yourself!

First line: The concept of a day of rest was alien to many ancient people. Last line: Shabbat should free us to spend more time with our families, and to savor small moments that usually pass unnoticed; restoring the body as well as the soul, freeing us to reflect on what matters most…

Shabbat Brings Peace

-Author Unknown

One of the best Shabbat readings. Please do not miss this one.

First line: Help us to feel peaceful this new Shabbat. Last line: We break open the gates of goodness and kindness in ourselves and in others…

Preparing To Welcome Shabbat

-Rabbi Daniel Zemel

Rashi, known as the most important commentator on the Torah, was known for his ability to explain the text in simple language. His take on Shabbat is that there is more work to do each week than we can possibly finish, so when it’s time to rest, just rest. Amen!

First line: According to tradition, Shabbat is not simply a good idea, but a mitzvah. Last line: The Shabbat Queen has arrived!…

A Time For Reflection

-Author Unknown

So the best way to do this readings is as follows. Ask everyone to close their eyes and think about the week. Ask if they can remember where they were last Friday night at this time and then think about the week that just passed. Here’s what will happen: Most people won’t remember where they were last Friday night. A lot of times they will want to go check their phones to look at their calendars. I don’t love this because it can ruin the moment but go ahead if you don’t mind. Then, ask them to them to close their eyes and think about the week they just had. Maybe they had a great week at work, maybe it was awful. Maybe CNN had only happy news, but more than likely, it was challenging. Maybe they had big projects to finish, or tests at school. Think about the whole week until this very minute as everyone is now sitting at the Shabbat table. Give a few seconds for everyone to think. Then, say that it is now time to release this week. Say goodbye to it, because it is now part of our own personal history. By releasing the past, we can open ourselves up to the new possibilities in this brand-new week to come. This reading isn’t exactly sad, but the relief of letting go makes us a little weepy sometimes, especially after one-of-those-weeks.

First line: Everyone take a minute to really think about what you were doing last Friday evening. Last line: Let me be ready to look for new happiness and bring the best of me to new experiences during the week to come…

Love Like It's The Only Thing You Know

-Rupi Kaur

Wow. Perfect for when your priorities are a mess. And whose aren’t?

First line: Most importantly love like it’s the only thing you know how. Last line: How you touched the people around you and how much you gave them…

Honey From The Rock

-Rabbi Lawrence Kushner

This reading is so sweet. The idea that we make each other better and sometimes more whole. Love it.

First line: Each lifetime is the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Last line: And when you present your piece which is worthless to you, to another, whether you know it or not, whether they know it or not, you are a messenger from the most high…

The Key to Love

-Anon

The reason we put this reading in Shabbat as well as in Wedding is because at a wedding, it’s actually rather easy to think about love. The whole ceremony is about love. But, if a couple says this to one another on just a regular Shabbat, maybe that is when it’s actually more important. Anyway, no matter when you read it, it’s beautiful.

First line: The key to love is understanding… Last line: And that is the key to love…

Shabbat Short But Sweet

-Multiple Authors

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