Havdalah is one of the most overlooked Jewish celebrations that should get more attention. It’s short, it has cool props, and it has wine. Havdalah marks the space in time when Shabbat is over, which might sound sad at first. Havdalah (from the Hebrew word for separation) occurs on Saturday evening when the sun goes down. So, depending on the time of year, because the days are a lot longer in the summer, Havdalah is often done right before people head out to meet friends, go out for ice cream, head to the bar, check email… whatever their plans are. Which makes it not so sad, right?

Havdalah. Sort of like Burning Man without the dust.


Easing Back Into the Real World

In the days before people had Apple watches, Havdalah took place when people could see three stars in the night sky. These days people generally celebrate Havdalah about an hour after sundown. The idea is that you’re spiritual during Shabbat. If you’re observant, you might not use electricity and refrain from lots of mundane tasks… no shopping, no driving, no use of money, etc. When done according to tradition, Shabbat really is a totally restful day. But it’s so restful we need Havdalah to help us ease out of it and get us back to the real world. We use all five of our senses to help bring us back. We taste the wine, smell the spices, see and feel the candle flame, and hear the blessings.

Havdalah has helped more people transition than the gender assignment team at The Cleveland Clinic.

Things To Have On Hand

It Makes A Lot of Sense (Literally)

Here’s a list of things that you’ll need. (You can also buy a Havdalah kit from Etsy.com or on Amazon.com.)

  • Kiddush cup (or a regular cup) and wine (or juice or whatever you have)
  • Spices (Lots of people use cloves and/or cinnamon – the more fragrant the spice the better. Some people use a special Havdalah spice box.)
  • Havdalah candle (A Havdalah candle is braided and has two or more wicks. If you don’t have one, you can use two regular candles held together so that the flames merge. Or just use a regular candle if that’s what you prefer. TBH, there’s no one answer for why we use more than one wick. Some people say it’s to represent the multiple ways we use fire, others say it’s to make the fire look more like a torch, and some people use six wicks to represent the days of the week until Shabbat.)

If you like big flames get yourself a Havdalah candle!

Havdalah Prayers And Blessings

Kiddush (Blessing Over The Wine)

The blessing recited over wine or grape juice. Some families just do the first line (up to “Amen”) and others do the full blessing. As always, do whatever feels right to you!

First line: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei p’ree hagafen. Amen. Last line: Blessed are You, God, Spirit of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. Amen…

Blessing Over The Spices

First line: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei minei v’samim. Last line: You just take a sniff and pass it to the next person…

Blessing Over The Flames Of The Havdalah Candle

-Author Unknown

First line: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei m’orei ha-eish. Last line: Seriously, don’t burn yourself…

Concluding Blessing

First line: Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, ha-mavdil bein kodesh l’chol, bein or-le’choshekh, bein Yisrael la-amim, bein yom ha-shevi’i l’sheshet y’mai ha-ma’aseh. Last line: The last step is to wish everyone Shavua Tov, which means have a good week!…

See All 4 Havdalah Prayers And Blessings

The shortest Jewish service of the year! And it happens every week.

Havdalah Readings

A Reading For Havdalah

-Marge Piercy

Havdalah, which comes at the end of Shabbat, is a time to bask in the beauty of renewal, and a reminder to take the peaceful feeling into the week we are about to begin.

First line: The sun slides from the sky as the sparks of the day are tamped out. Last line: Let us take it home to shine in our daily lives…

Havdalah Ritual

-Author Unknown

First line: The Havdalah service marks the end of Shabbat. Last line: Blessed are You, God hamav’dil bein kodesh l’chol (Amen) who separates between sacred and secular (Amen)…

See All 2 Havdalah Readings

It's a little sad to say goodbye to Shabbat, but who doesn't like Saturday night?

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