Work week is over. Breathe deeply. Tune in. Turn off distractions. Light candles together. 

We mark the beginning of Shabbat by lighting candles just before sunset.


What reasons are given for lighting Shabbat candles? 

  • Spiritual ... When we light Shabbat candles, we reenact God’s opening act of Creation, when God said “Let there be light” and illuminated the dark world. As we remember the creation of the world through lighting candles, we also celebrate the creation of our own homes, as we spread light and warmth, both physically and emotionally.  

  • Practical ...The mitzvah (commandment) to light Shabbat candles is prescribed in the Mishnah (the earliest compilation of rabbinic law edited by 200 CE) in order to provide light at the Shabbat dinner table. During the week, our ancestors ate before sunset since they could not regularly afford expensive oils and candles to light their homes. However, the Shabbat meal is traditionally eaten once Shabbat begins - which is always after sunset - and our ancestors needed candlelight to see the meal and their Shabbat guests.


Why two candles?

While rabbinic law prescribes lighting only one candle, over time Jews began to light two candles to symbolize the commandments to shamor (keep) and zachor (remember) Shabbat each week. Other traditions include lighting seven candles to represent the seven days of the week, or lighting one candle for each member of the family.


Why do we cover our eyes?

Candle blessing initiates the Shabbat and, thus, should be said after the candles are lit and not before as the Jewish law generally requires. Therefore, we cover our eyes in order to see the light as new after we say the blessing. 


Why are Shabbat candles traditionally lit by women?

Traditionally, women have performed this mitzvah, since it’s an act that sanctifies the home, which has been the sphere of Jewish women for generations. Lighting Shabbat candles also links women from one generation to the next, as they may light candlesticks that have been passed down from mother to daughter through the ages. Today, however, in our egalitarian world, some men light Shabbat candles as well. Children can also be involved - they can set up the candles, light their own candles, and even make candles and candlesticks to use each week.  

Lighting Shabbat Candles

Track 3: The melody Cantors Natasha Hirschhorn and Maria Dubinsky recorded for this project is the most familiar melody of the candle blessing in America today.  The melody was composed by Abraham Binder (1895-1967) - an American-born synagogue composer, conductor, and scholar of Jewish music.  


Step-by-step guide

  1. Prepare the candles and matches, and a fireproof surface for the match.  

  2. Light the candles. Place the lit match on the fireproof surface.

  3. Extend your hands over the candles, draw them inwards 3 times in a circular motion, and then cover your eyes.

  4. Say the blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה אַדֹנָ-י אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל שַׁבָּת


Transliteration: Baruch a-ta A-do-nay Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-o-lam a-sher ki-di-sha-nu bi-mitz-vo-tav vi-tzi-va-nu li-had-lik ner shel Sha-bat.


Translation: Blessed are you, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the light of Shabbat.


Blessing Over The Children

Track 4: Traditional blessing of the children on Friday night brings together our wish for them to be inspired by their illustrious ancestors, both male and female, as well as a more universal hope that they always feel the light of God’s presence and protection. The second text, a direct quote from the Torah, is set to music by a great Jewish American composer Max Helfman (of Eastern European descent), who distinguished himself both as a master liturgical composer and an inspired teacher of Jewish Youth. 


1) Parents gather your children together, and place their hands on the children's heads.

2) Recite the blessings in the language of your choice.

3) Everyone gets a kiss!



For Girls: 

יְשִׂימֵךְ אֱלהיִם כְּשָׂרָה רִבְקָה רָחֵל וְלֵאָה. 

Y'simeich Elohim k'Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel, v'Leah.

May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah.


For Boys:

יְשִׂימְךָ אֱלהיִם כְּאֶפְרַיְם וְכִמְנַשֶּׁה.

Y'simcha Elohim k'Efrayim v'che-Menasheh.

May God make you like Ephraim and Menasheh.


For All Children:


יְבָרֶכְךָ יְהוָה וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ 

Y'varechecha Adonai V'yish'm'recha.


May God Bless you and guard you.


יָאֵר יְהוָה פָּנָיו  אֵלֶיךָ וִיחֻנֶּךָּ 

Ya'er Adonai panav eilecha vichuneka. 


May the light of God shine upon you, and may God be gracious to you.



יִשָּׂא יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלום

Yisa Adonai panav eilecha v'yasem l'cha shalom.


May the presence of God be with you and give you peace.

WELCOME Shabbat into your home

What are some ways families welcome Shabbat?

Our grandparents may have welcomed Shabbat by tidying up their house, wearing special clean clothing, praying at the local synagogue, and inviting friends and family to share a meal. We too can welcome Shabbat in these ways, and in new ways as well. Here are some ideas:

  • Clear out our inbox and voicemail before Shabbat;

  • Meditate and prepare our bodies by stretching;

  • Play Shabbat music aloud in our homes;

  • After lighting candles, spend a few minutes looking at old family photo albums and share memories;

  • Go around the Shabbat dinner table and talk about good memories from the past week;

  • Each week, a different family member can pose a probing “Shabbat question” which everyone can answer;

  • Just like our grandparents did, we too can hug, kiss and bless our loved ones.


Charitable giving on Shabbat

Another way we can welcome Shabbat is by giving “tzedakah” money to worthy causes, such as people who are poor or ill, or to organizations that help repair our broken world. The Hebrew word “tzedakah” literally means “justice” or “righteousness.” Giving tzedakah is not just an act of benevolent charity - by giving tzedakah we do our part to pursue justice in the world.  Here is how you can give Tzedakah with your family: Keep a tzedakah box or piggy bank next to your Shabbat candlesticks. Before you light Shabbat candles, each family member can drop a few coins in the Tzedakah box. After you have filled the box, count the money and decide as a family where you should donate the money. You can choose a new cause every few months.


Why is Shabbat sometimes described as the Queen? 

The Talmudic sage, Rabbi Chaninah, would wrap himself in his prayer shawl as the sun was setting on Friday evening, and declare, “Come let us go meet the Shabbat queen!” (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Shabbat). Metaphorically, we describe God as king, Shabbat as God’s queen, and the people of Israel are their faithful servants who welcome, embrace and honor them in ways befitting royalty. In the 1500’s, the Jewish mystics of Safed, Israel built on Rabbi Chanina’s custom. They would dress up in their finest white clothing and go to the fields to welcome the majestic Shabbat bride. As the sun set, they would say to each other, “Lekha dodi likrat kallah” - “Let us go greet the Shabbat Queen!”

Shalom Aleichem

(I. Goldfarb, arr. by N. Hirschhorn)

Track 6: This hymn is traditionally chanted on Friday night upon returning home from the synagogue. Based on a passage from the Talmud, Shalom Aleichem was first introduced by the Kabbalists of the 17th century. Two ministering angels accompany us on Friday night on our way home from the synagogue, a good angel and an evil one. When the house is neat and ready for Shabbat, the good angel will say: "May the next Shabbat be as this one!"  If, however, the house is in disarray, the evil angel will claim the next Shabbat to be the same as this one.

The setting by an American composer and conductor, Rabbi Israel Goldfarb, gained such outstanding worldwide popularity that it is often mistakenly considered a traditional Hassidic melody.  

שָלוֹם עֲלֵיכֶם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָרֵת מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן 
מִמֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְלָכִים הַקָדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא 

בּוֹאֲכֶם לְשָׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָׁלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי עֶלְיוֹן 
מִמֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְלָכִים הַקָדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא 

בָּרְכוּנִי לְשָלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָׁלוֹם מַלְאָכִי עֶלְיוֹן 
מִמֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְלָכִים הַקָדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא 

צֵאתְכֶם לְשָלוֹם מַלְאֲכֵי הַשָׁלוֹם מַלְאָכִי עֶלְיוֹן 
מִמֶלֶךְ מַלְכֵי הַמְלָכִים הַקָדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא

Shalom Aleychem

Shalom aleichem

mal'achei hasharet

mal'achei elyon.

Mimelech mal'achei ham'lachim

Hakadosh baruch Hu.


Bo'achem leshalom

mal'achei hashalom

mal'achei elyon

Mimelech mal'achei ham'lachim

Hakadosh baruch Hu. 


Bar'chuni leshalom

mal'achei hashalom

mal'achei elyon

Mimelech mal'achei ham'lachim

Hakadosh baruch Hu.


Tzetchem leshalom

mal'achei hashalom

mal'achei elyon

Mimelech mal'achei ham'lachim

Hakadosh baruch Hu.




Peace to You

Peace to you messengers, 

angels of the service, 

messengers of most high, 

messengers of the King, 

the holy one blessed be He.


May you come for peace , 

angels of the service, 

messengers of most high, 

messengers of the King, 

the kings of the kings ,

the holy one blessed be He.


May you bless me for peace, 

angels of the service, 

messengers of most high, 

messengers of the King, 

the kings of the kings ,

the holy one blessed be He.


May you depart to peace, 

angels of the service, 

messengers of most high, 

messengers of the King, 

the kings of the kings ,

the holy one blessed be He.



Мир вам

Здравствуйте, ангелы, ангелы мира, Ангелы Всевышнего,

Царя Царей,

да будет благословен Он!



Придите с миром,

ангелы мира,

Ангелы Всевышнего,

Царя Царей,

да будет благословен Он!



Благословите меня, Ангелы мира, 

ангелы Всевышнего,

Царя Царей,

да будет благословен Он!




Удалитесь с миром, Ангелы мира,

ангелы Всевышнего,

Царя Царей,

да будет благословен Он!



Lecha Dodi

(M. Zeria and Yerushalmi/Ashkenazi)


Track 7: This mystical hymn was written by the prominent Safed Kabbalist of the 16th century, Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz. The opening letters of the first eight stanzas form the acrostic of the name of the author - Shlomo HaLevi. Lecha Dodi opens with the words: “Come, my friend, to meet the bride; let us welcome the presence of Shabbat.”  The Kabbalists of Safed viewed Shabbat as the marriage of the Shekhinah – the Divine presence, and the Jewish people.


Traditional poem is nine verses long, of which we chose to record only the last one. It is customary to change the melody of Lecha Dodi in the middle, usually after the fifth stanza. Our recording introduces two melodies: a tune composed by an Israeli songwriter of a Russian origin, Mordechai Zeira and a folk version of the hymn.

לְכָה דוֹדִי לִקְרַאת כַּלָּה. פְּנֵי שַׁבָּת נְקַבְּלָה: 

שָׁמוֹר וְזָכוֹר בְּדִבּוּר אֶחָד, הִשְמִיעָֽנוּ אֵל הַמְּיֻחָד. 
יְיָ אֶחָד וּשְמוֹ אֶחָד. לְשֵׁם וּלְתִפְאֶֽרֶת וְלִתְהִלָּה: 

לְכָה דוֹדִי לִקְרַאת כַּלָּה. פְּנֵי שַׁבָּת נְקַבְּלָה: 


בּֽוֹאִי בְשָׁלוֹם עֲטֶרֶת בַּעְלָהּ. גַּם בְּשִׂמְחָה וּבְצָהֳלָה. 
תּוֹךְ אֱמוּנֵי עַם סְגֻּלָּה. בּֽוֹאִי כַלָּה, בּֽוֹאִי כַלָּה: 
לְכָה דוֹדִי לִקְרַאת כַּלָּה. פְּנֵי שַׁבָּת נְקַבְּלָה:

Lechah dodi likrat kalah,

Penei shabat nekablah.


Shamor  vezachor bedibur echad,

Hishmianu El hameyuchad.

Adonai echad ushemo echad,

Leshem uletiferet velitehilah.


Lechah dodi...


Boi  veshalom, ateret baelah,

Gam besimchah uvetsoholah,

Toch emunei am segulah .

Boi chalah ! Boi chalah !

Come, my friend, to meet the bride;

let us welcome the presence of Shabbat! 


"Obse​rve" and "Remember​ the Sabbath day," God said those words to us.

God One, and God's name is One, renowned and glorious and praiseworthy! 


Come, my friend, to meet the bride...


Come in peace, holding your beloved's crown, with rejoicing​ and with happiness. In the midst of the faithful of the chosen people: come, O bride; come, O bride!

Russian translation coming soon

(Melody by B. Okudzhava, adopted by N. Hirschhorn)

Track 8: This paragraph from the Torah (Exodus, Chapter 31: 16-17) describes Shabbat as an eternal sign of covenant between the Children of Israel and God, who made Heaven and Earth in six days and rested on the seventh. It occupies an important part among the Friday night prayers and serves as an introduction to the Kiddush on Shabbat morning. We were inspired to use a melody for “Grape Seed,” a song by Bulat Okudzhava, beloved by our generation of Russian immigrants – a time honored tradition of borrowing inspired secular melodies to match prayer texts – because of how well its meaning resonates with this Shabbat prayer: “I will cover the grape seed with warm earth, kiss the vine and take off the ripe grapes; I will call all my friends and tune my heart to love; otherwise, why do I live on this Earth?”

וְשָׁמְרוּ בְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּת, לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת־הַשַּׁבָּת לְדֹרֹתָם בְּרִית עוֹלָם

 בֵּינִי וּבֵין בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל אוֹת הִיא לְעֹלָם,

כִּי־שֵֽׁשֶׁת יָמִים עָשָׂה יי אֶת־הַשָּׁמַֽיִם וְאֶת־הָאָֽרֶץ, וּבַיוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי שָׁבַת וַיִּנָּפַשׁ.

Ve'shamru b'ney Israel
et ha'shabbat,
laasot et ha'shabbat
l'dorotam brit olam: 

Beyni u'veyn bney yisrael,
Ot hi l'olam
Ki sheshet yamim asa hashem
Et hashamaim v'et ha'aretz, u'vayom ha'shvi'i shabbat va'yinafash.
And the children of Israel

Shall keep the Sabbath,

To observe the Sabbath throughou​t their generatio​ns, for an everlasti​ng covenant.​


It is a sign between me

and the children of Israel for ever,

that in six days the Lord made

the heavens and the earth,

and on the seventh day he rested,

and ceased from his work. 

Russian translation coming soon
Yedid Nefesh

Track 10: Yedid nefesh (Beloved of the Soul) is a Sabbath piyyut, a poetic-musical genre that emerged as early as in the 4th century, C.E. In some communities it is customary to sing Yedid nefesh between Friday Minchah (afternoon prayer) and the beginning of Kabbalat Shabbat (Greeting of Sabbath). But it is also customary to sing this piyyut on Se’udat shlishit, the third Sabbath meal on Saturday afternoon.

Yedid nefesh av harachaman, 

meshoch avdecha el retzonecha.
Yarutz avdecha kemo ayal, 
yishtachaveh el mul hadarecha.

Ye’erav lo yedidotecha, 

minofet tzuf vechol ta’am.


Hadur, na’eh, ziv ha’olam, 
nafshi cholat ahavatecha.
Ana el na refa na lah, 
behar’ot lah no’am zivecha.
Az titchazek vetitrape, 
vehayetah lah simchat olam.


Vatik, yehemu na rachamecha, 
vechusah na al ben ahuvecha.
Ki zeh kammah nichsof nichsafti, 
lir’ot meherah betif’eret uzzecha.
Eleh chamedah libi, 
vechusah na ve’al tit’alam.



Higaleh na ufros chavivi alay, 

et sukat shlomecha.
Ta’ir eretz mikevodecha, 
nagilah venismechah bach. 
Maher ehov ki va mo’ed,
vechonnenu kimei olam.

Lover of my soul, merciful God, 
bring​ your servant close to Your will. 
Your servant will run like a gazelle, to prostrate​ before Your glory. 
For Your companion​ship is purer than any fine taste or flavor. 

Perfe​ct, pleasing,​ radiance of the world,
my soul desires Your love. 
Pleas​​​e, God, heal her now,
as You show her the pleasantn​ess of Your light. 
Now, strengthe​n and heal her, and she will be for You an eternal servant. 

Ancie​nt one, many your mercies be made manifest,​ 
And have compassio​n on the child of Your lover. 
For it is so long that I have faithfull​y waited, to see the glory of Your strength.​ 
Pleas​​​e, my God, the desire of my Heart, hurry and do not hide! 

Pleas​​​e, my beloved, reveal yourself and spread over me the shelter of Your peace. 
Fill the world with the light of your glory, so that we may rejoice and be happy in You. 
Be quick, my lover, for the time has come, and have mercy on me for all time. 

(Tran​slation - Gabe Seed,

יְדִיד נֶפֶשׁ, אָב הָרַחְמָן 
מְשךְ עַבְדָךְ אֶל רְצונָךְ 
יָרוּץ עַבְדָךְ כְמו אַיָל 
יִשְתַחֲוֶה מוּל הֲדָרָךְ 
כִּי יֶעְרַב לוֹ יְדִידוּתָךְ 
מִנּפֶת צוּף וְכָל טָעַם 

הָדוּר, נָאֶה, זִיו הָעולָם 
נַפְשִי חולַת אַהֲבָתָךְ 
אָנָא אֵל נָא, רְפָא נָא לָהּ 
בְּהַרְאות לָהּ נעַם זִיוָךְ 
אָז תִתְחֵזֵּק וְתִתְרַפֵּא 
וְהָיְתָה לָךְ שִפְחַת עולָם 


וָתִיק, יֶהְמוּ רַחֲמֶיךָ 
וְחוּס נָא עַל בֵּן אוֹהֲבָךְ 
כִּי זֶה כַּמֶה נִכְסף נִכְסַף 
לִרְאות בְּתִפְאֶרֶת עֻזָךְ 
אָנָא אֵלִי, מַחְמָד לִבִי 
חוּסה נָא, וְאַל תִּתְעַלָם 

הִגָלֵה נָא וּפְרשׂ, חָבִיב 
עָלַי אֶת סֻכַת שְלומֶךְ 
תָּאִיר אֶרֶץ מִכְּבוֹדָךְ 
נָגִילָה וְנִשְׂמְחָה בָךְ 
מַהֵר אָהוּב, כִּי בָא מועֵד 
וְחָנֵנִי כִּימֵי עולָם

Russian translation coming soon