Shabbat B’ Bayit (in the Home)


Subject: Shabbat in the Home

Target: The Entire Congregation

Time Frame: A Friday Evening

Congregation: Shaare Emeth

Contributor: Ronnie Brockman


Shabbat B’Bayit means Shabbat in the home.  On 3 different Friday evenings,  congregants throughout the community join together in small neighborhood groups to celebrate Shabbat.  Shabbat gatherings consist of 5-8 families, with no more than 20 people at each home. Each Shabbat gathering is hosted, led by and organized by members.


Families learn how to celebrate Shabbat and continue in some manner in their home.  Also, by meeting new people in the congregation the hope is that families will celebrate Shabbat together.


Families enjoy a relaxed Shabbat dinner, service and social gathering which provides a warm, personal, supportive learning environment for them.

Target Population

The entire congregation


This program takes place in members’ homes within the community.

Staff and Specialists

The Family Educator and a committee of volunteers plan, organize and execute this program. It helps to keep the same coordinators, a volunteer committee, for one year.  Have one volunteer become the overall chairperson, another to be in charge of the creation of a short family service, and someone to be responsible for the families hosting the Shabbat dinner.

Staff Responsibilities:

  1. Rabbi to help write service or create a D’Var Torah for the portion of the week for families to study and makes a Shabbat music tape for the Shabbat Bags
  2. Family Educator Responsibilities include:
    a) Oversee the entire project
    b) Meet with temple staff
    c) Find Chairpeople
    d) Meet with Chairpeople to go over responsibilities
    e) Organize publicity and mailings
    f) Proof all publicity, services, etc.
    g) Make phone calls
    h) Budget (including grants)
    i) Get new member list
    j) Call people to host and invite


Shabbat bags which include:  challah, candles, wine/juice, flowers, blessing cards, services for adults and children, an educational piece about Shabbat, Shabbat music cassette tape which can be made or purchased

Invitations, postage, envelopes


Once the chairpeople  are in place, this program requires preparation and coordination starting about 2 months before the actual event.

The following are an integral part of a successful program.

The Service
Ahead of time the Rabbi creates two 20-30 minute services and discussion questions.  One service is for adults and older children and another for families with young children.  One person/family/couple meet with the Rabbi to go over the service which they then lead on the Friday night.  There is also an educational piece about Shabbat.  One source for this is from Family Talk, Union of Reform Judaism website.

Shabbat Bags
The Congregation supplies these bags which include a challah, candles, wine/juice, flowers, blessing cards, educational piece about Shabbat, Shabbat tape that can be made or bought.

Families are made aware of the program through the Temple bulletin, congregational flyers and invitations, calls, explanations to Religious School families at open house.

Hosts offer their homes for the evening.  They set up for dinner, and coordinate who will bring what for the pot-luck dinner.  They also organize activities for the younger children.

Program Activites

On the night of Shabbat, families gather in homes around the community to celebrate Shabbat.  They have a dinner, study, participate in a service, and if there are children – a family activity.


Major expenses are for the Shabbat bags and publicity.

References and Resources

Fields, Harvey J, A Torah Commentary for Our Times, UAHC Press, 1990

Loeb, Sorel Goldberg, Barbara Binder Kadden,  Teaching Torah. ARE, 1997

Shapiro, Mark Dov,  Gates of Shabbat:  A Guide for Observing Shabbat  Central Conference of

American Rabbis, 1991