Step 1: Why bless and what do we bless?

The blessing over wine combines the regular acknowledgment of God's role in feeding people with alonger blessing onremembering creation. Many Jews grow up drinking a very sweet sacramental wine for Kiddush. Some people likethis wine, either because they like sweet things or because itmakes them nostalgic. Sweet wine isn’t necessary, however. Kosher wine makers, who make wineaccording to Jewish law about food and drink, are doing their best to improve the quality and varietyof kosher wines, so that people who only make Kiddush on kosher wine can choose a dry wine if theylike. The same blessing that is used for wine can also be made over unfermented grape juice. The point is to sanctify a symbol of joy and relaxation. From the Guide to Shabbat for Interfaith Families

Remember, you are not actually blessing the wine; however, you are blessing what the wine represents – holiness.


The blessing over wine comes after the candle lighting and blessing over the children. Kiddush is recited both on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon (Shabbat lasts until Saturday night whenyou see three stars in the sky, and it is traditional to have a Saturday afternoon meal with Kiddush).


1. Find a cup for the blessing. Some people use a Kiddush cup, which is a special cup used only on Shabbatand other Jewish holidays when you intend to recite a blessing over the wine. It might be decorated in aspecial way or made of silver. You can find one online or at any Judaic shop. If you don’t have one, youhave 2 options: use a regular cup or make one! (instructions below) 2. Pour the wine/grape juice. Some people pour one cup of wine. After the blessing, the cup is passedaround and everyone shares in the joy from the same cup. Others pour one cup of wine, say the blessing,and then pour that wineinto many smaller cups so each person can have their own cup. (HELP! What if Idon’t have wine or grape juice inthe house...what do I do? Well, the point is to elevate the celebration andmake Shabbat special and unique. Drinksomething you don’t usually drink, as long as you don’t do theblessing over water). 3. Do you stand or sit during the Kiddush? Both! Some people sit and some people stand. Some people riseto showhonor (kavod) to the celebration and sanctification/blessing. Some people sit to honor the dinneras a whole. Weare to relax on Shabbat and include wine in our meal. 4. Lifting the cup. Some people life their cup of wine during the blessing with their hand underneath the cup,fist open.The openhandedness is a sign of generosity and trust (Deuteronomy 15:7‐8). 5. Blessing. You can either sing or recite the blessing. The words of the blessing declare Shabbat as a holyday,celebrating God’s partnership with human beings. You can all recite the blessing together, or oneperson canrecite the blessing and everyone can respond, AMEN!

The Friday evening Kiddush has three parts: a reading of Genesis 1:31‐2:3, a short blessing over the wine itself andalonger sanctification of Shabbat.

Read the following before reciting the blessing:

And it was evening and it was morning, the sixth day. The heavens and the earth, and all they contain, were completed. By the seventh day, God had finished the work which God had been doing, and rested from all work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, for on it God rested from all the works of creation. (Genesis 1:31­2:3)

The blessing is: If you don't feel comfortable saying the blessing in Hebrew, you can recite an English translation of all or part of it

בָּרוּך אַתָּה אַדָנָי אֱלהֵינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha‐olam, borei pe‐ri ha‐gafen. Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, who has made us holy with your commandments. Lovingly you have favored us with the gift of your holy Shabbat as our inheritance, a reminder of creation, first among the sacred days, recalling our liberation from Egypt. You have chosen us and given us a holy purpose from among all the peoples. In loving favor, you have given us your holy Shabbat as a heritage. Blessed are you, God, who makes Shabbat holy

Step 2: A Conversation

“Judaism does not divide life into holy and profane, but into the holy and the not yet holy.” Martin Buber, Jewish Philosopher

Don’t run the other way – holiness is an accessible concept – even if you’ve never approached it before. If youcome from a Christian background, holiness is basically understood as being separate from worldly influences. InEastern religions the concept of holiness also entails separation from the world and meditation in an environmentthat promotes peace and tranquility. In Judaism we focus on the charge in the Torah (Leviticus 11:44) to be “holybecause I [God] am holy.” To be holy, we often have to remove ourselves from the mundane tasks of everyday lifeto find what we can elevate to ahigher level. defines holiness as the state of separationfrom, and elevation above, thingscommon. The word in Hebrew for holiness is Kadesh, which is where we derivethe word Kiddush.


Please share the answers to these questions as a group. Take no more than ten minutes on this piece: Everyone is encouraged to share, but if someone does not feel comfortable, they can refrain. You can choose to answer all or some of the questions below.

• With the kiddush, we sanctify the day of Shabbat over wine. What does it mean to sanctify something? How hard is it for you to bless something that represents something else (the wine represents holiness)? • Think about something uniquely special in your life. What makes that person/thing special? Do you think this person/thing has an element of holiness (refer to the definition of holiness above). • Why would you want to find holy aspects/instances in your life? Why would you want others to find holy aspects to their lives? • Are there things you elevate in your life that you feel you shouldn’t? • What do you think has the potential to be holy in your life? In the life of your children? • How do you interpret the quote from Martin Buber above? Can you expand this idea to support a particular way of life?

Step 3: Activities

Craft – Create your own Kiddush cup

Part of celebrating Shabbat is having ritual items that make the holiday celebration special. This is a Jewishconceptcalled hiddur mitzvah, the beautification of a mitzvah (commandment). While you can use any glass torecite theblessing and drink the wine/grape juice, having a special glass used only for Shabbat and the Jewish holidayselevates the celebration to a higher level.

Purchase plastic wine glasses (you can find them at party stores). You can also use regular wine glasses that areheavy duty – nothing fancy needed! Place a thin layer of tape at the top of the glass. This will ensure that yourdecorations willnever touch your lips! Suggested decorations: (remember in Judaism ritual items do not havepictures of people)permanent markers, foam craft paper, beads, stickers, ribbon, etc. Make designs using flowers,fruit, geographicimages, or free form. You can even print out a copy of the blessing and attach it to the glass soyou always have it together!

Type of Custom: Kiddush, Motzi & Handwashing, Psalms, Poetry & Songs, Commentary/Meditations


Source: A Shabbat Experience For Your Group of Friends (and Family)