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These Shabbat dinner rituals, cultivated by our ancestors, invite you to go deeper and connect with Divinity, queer community, and your highest Shabbat intentions. Just as the Shabbat evening service brings together multiple aspects of Divinity, you are here invited to gather in community, with chosen family, beloveds, or even with different aspects of your own self.
On Shabbat, we let go of whatever has occurred in the past week, and open to all the possibilities of rest. It is said that Shabbat is a taste of Olam haBa, the world to come. May our rest revitalize us for queer resistance in the week to come, and may we also sample the queer joy of Olam haBa through these rituals.
This booklet uses a gender-expansive Hebrew grammatical system developed by the Nonbinary Hebrew Project. For more information, please visit www.nonbinaryhebrew.com.
Take a moment to think about what you most want to receive this Shabbat, and then consider that which you would most like to let go of. Inhale, inviting that which you want to receive, and exhale, releasing that which no longer serves.
Light a pair of candles, then draw the light towards you with your hands by circling the flames three times. Recite the blessing while covering your eyes, and then take in the beauty of the Shabbat lights.
בְּרוּךֶ אָתֶה ײַ, אֱלֹהִימוֹתֵינוּ מַלְכֶּת הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְשֶׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתֶיהֶ וְצִוֶנוּ לְהַדְלִיק נֵר שֶׁל שַבָּת
Bruche ateh Adonai Elohimoteinu Malket ha’Olam asher kidshenu b’mitzvoteihe, v’tzivenu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.
It is traditional for husbands to bless their wives after candle lighting, but this tradition doesn’t often resonate for queer couples, let alone straight couples who don’t necessarily fit standard gender roles.
The following blessing can be used by couples of any gender, regardless of their marital status.
As day turns to night,
And afternoon light fades into inky black,
May we recognize the love bringing us together
Like the twin flames of the Shabbat candles,
Soft and luminous
May we appreciate and give thanks for this love,
And for the blessings that accompany it,
Just as fruit ripens on the vine
May we remember, always, to listen
To the music in ourselves and each other
That which points us towards harmony
And may we continue forward on the path
Of a beautiful and just future
For ourselves, for each other, and for the world.
As the traditional Shabbat children’s blessings are gendered, here is an alternative blessing to use with children of any gender.
We give thanks for the blessing that is you,
Every day we witness your growth,
And we give thanks
For every new lesson
As you become,
More and more each day,
The person you are meant to be.
Our communities include people who are not in long-term partnered relationships, whether by choice or circumstance. If this is you, take a moment to celebrate yourself this Shabbat with this blessing for the solo person.
This Shabbat, amidst the growing twilight,
I affirm myself in my full dignity,
In my truth,
And in my lived experience
I celebrate my resilience
And my wholeness,
My fortitude and my strength
And I name and bless myself
As a sovereign being
Under a canopy of stars
My aliveness is my own
Having blessed each other or ourselves, we now bless the wine or grape juice, pausing to recognize the holiness of this moment and the beauty of sanctification. Feel free to whisper into the cup something that you’re yearning for before you say the blessing and take the first sip.
בְּרוּךֶ אָתֶה ײַ, אֱלֹהִימוֹתֵינוּ מַלְכֶּת הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרָאת פְּרִי הַגָּֽפֶן
Bruche ateh Adonai Elohimoteinu Malket ha’Olam, borat p’ri hagafen.
Before we eat, we wash our hands. It is customary to sing a nigun, or wordless melody, in place of speech while you are waiting for everyone to finish washing. Pour water three times onto each hand, and recite the blessing. Is there anything from this week that you’d like to wash away in preparation for the Shabbat meal?
בְּרוּךֶ אָתֶה ײַ, אֱלֹהִימוֹתֵינוּ מַלְכֶּת הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְשֶׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתֶיהֶ וְצִוֶנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדַיִם
Bruche ateh Adonai Elohimoteinu Malket ha’Olam asher kidshenu b’mitzvoteihe, v’tzivenu al nitilat yadayim
Once everyone has assembled back at the table, it’s time to bless the challah. First, take a moment to close your eyes. Feel the line of your body against the chair and your feet on the floor. See if you can sense the earth beneath the floor beneath your feet, and remember that we are a part of nature. Spend a moment or two feeling the support of the earth beneath you, and then open your eyes.
בְּרוּךֶ אָתֶה ײַ, אֱלֹהִימוֹתֵינוּ מַלְכֶּת הָעוֹלָם, הַמּוֹצִיאֶה לֶחֶם מִן הָאָרֶץ
Bruche ateh Adonai Elohimoteinu Malket ha’Olam, Hamotzi'e lechem min ha'aretz.
While you enjoy your Shabbat meal, here are some questions to prompt reflection and discussion at your table.
What are some different approaches to rest and play we can try and indulge in this Shabbat? Bonus points for going beyond Netflix on the couch!
We might think of our queer communities as sacred spaces. What makes them sacred?
What feels alive for you this Shabbat? What possibilities for connection and creativity are unfolding for you and/or your community?
How can we nurture ourselves and each other so that we can keep fighting for the world we want to live in?
As dinner winds down, it’s time to give appreciation for the meal and the abundance of nature.
We give thanks for the earth and its sustenance,
For this food and drink, and this Shabbat rest,
May we one day see a coming of time when all is Shabbat.