Shabbat is the seventh day of the week. G-d created the entire creation in six days and rested on the seventh day – Shabbat. Therefore, we work the first 6 days of the week, and on Shabbat, the seventh day, we rest.
In Hebrew the word "week" – שבוע - is derived from the word "seven"– שבע - the week has seven days.
A month as 30 days, which cannot be divided equally by seven. That's why there are some nations that tried to change the week: after the French Revolution in 1789, the French tried to change the calendar and count the days according to the decimal system. They wanted to make a ten-day week. But the new calendar did not last long. In 1929 the Russians declared a five-day week. Instead of names, the days were called by numbers and colors (yellow, orange, red, purple and green). Every person was assigned a day of rest. But this plan did not hold, too.
Only a 7-day week lasts - because this intrinsic of the creation!
Shabbat is the root and foundation for the sanctity of time. In contrast to the holidays - which were dependent on the declaration of the beginning of the month (Rosh Chodesh) by Beit Din, the Shabbat is repeated every seventh day. When the holidays are listed in the Torah, "These are the festivals of the Lord, holy Scripture" "אלה מועדי ה' מקראי קודש" (ויקרא כ"ג ד). The list starts with Shabbat: "Six days shall you do work ..."
The Holy one, blessed be he, said to Moses: "I have a precious gift in my treasure house, call the Shabbat, and desire to give it to Israel; go and inform them". (Tractate Shabbat 10). The nations of the world were envious of the Jewish day of rest and emulated them. Some declared Sunday as the day of rest, others – Friday. Today a day of rest is self-understood throughout the world!
But not everyone who has a day of rest can know what Oneg Shabbat is: "An emperor asked Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananiah: "Why does the Sabbath dish have such a tantalizing smell? Rabbi Yehoshua answered: "We have a special spice, and Shabbat is its name. " the emperor demanded: "Give it to us!" but Rabbi Yehoshua explained, "Whoever observes the Shabbath experiences its pleasure, and who does not observe the Sabbath – cannot ..." (Shabbat 119: 1)
"It shall be a sign for all time between Me and the people of Israel" (Exodus 17:17) - Shabbat is the symbol of the people of Israel, and those who rose to destroy the Jewish people – issued decrees against the observance of the Sabbath! This was the case in Greece, as it was during the Holocaust, and in Soviet Russia. Many Jews sacrificed their lives to observe the Shabbat. We decided not to tell those stories to the young children.
Every child sees the preparation for the Shabbat in his home. Ask the children: How do you help? Try developing a conversation about it.
It is worthwhile to include the children in the preparations. Many things are done at home for Shabbat! Everyone, whether young or old, can find a suitable task: shopping, cooking, baking, cleaning, washing, folding, ironing, setting the table, taking out the garbage, etc.
The preparations for the Sabbath should be performed out of joy and in a good atmosphere.
At the beginning of Jewish settlement in America there were many Jews who were Shabbat observant. The absence from work on the Sabbath led to their losing their job. They lived in poverty and deprivation, as they went from one job to another. Unfortunately, many of their children did not follow in their footsteps. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt"l said the reason is because when a Jew was fired on Sunday he returned home, and said with a broken heart: "Oh, Seiz shver tzu zain a yid!" (Oh, how difficult it is to be a Jew! – Yidish). The father's devotion did not carry over to the next generation, because of the sorrow that accompanied his devotion. They associated Shabbat observance with sorrow rather then with joy - and they abandoned Father's path.
Therefore, it is very important for the children to absorb and experience the joy and beauty of Shabbat.
"And you shall call the Sabbath pleasure - עונג" (Isaiah 13:13) - Delight and respect the Sabbath with delicious foods (meat, fish, wine, special dishes). Eating 3 meals, Shabbat clothing, singing Zmiros, etc.
In order for the children to enjoy the Sabbath, it is worthwhile to designate some treats for children on this day. Such as special sweets that are kept for Shabbat, or a fun game reserved for this day.
Every kindergartens has a "Shabbat party", which the children are waiting for. On Friday, before going home, to Shabbat, an hour is devoted to this party. The program is fixed: songs, kids having their ritual jobs – as Shabbat abba and Shabbat Ima, giving treats, etc. Every child is waiting for his turn, and the party leaves children expecting the next week's party.
Why should not we celebrate the coming of Shabbat in school, in a more mature way?
We can spend an hour, or at least 10 to 15 minutes, during which we will prepare our students for Shabbat. This a plan is for the whole year. Every Friday it will be the role of another child to present material. The Sabbath was preserved throughout the Jewish Diaspora - east and west. Everywhere has its unique tradition, its special food, etc. Let's shar them and learn from each other!
Here are some ideas for this time.
1. Object related to Shabbat
Each family has items related to Shabbat: the kiddush cup, the challah cover, the challah knife, and so on. Some objects carry an interesting story: They have been in the family for several generations. / They came from this land. / We received it as a gift from ... / an interesting event that happened with it. / Something is engraved on it, special meaning ... and so on.
You may hear some fascinating stories!
Of course you have to look after the object and you have to be responsible and see that it arrives home safely - it may be somethings of value!
2. Recipe for Shabbat
Every home has its special delicacies reserved for Shabbat. Each week a child will bring a printed recipe, tell a little about its uniqueness and will hand out the page to all the children in the class. You can even ask the kids to prepare this dish for their friends! Here is an opportunity to taste different kinds of dishes.
It is possible to dedicate a special folder for this, and each week the kids will get another page with a recipe to add in the folder. On each page will be written the name of the child that brought the recipe. This way, at the end of the year, the children will have a "Shabbat recipe book" from our class!
3. Song for Shabbat
One of the special things of Shabbat is the Zmirot - which we sing together around the Shabbat table.
just like the Shabbat food comes to us from different countries - so do the Zmirot...
We can learn a different tune every week from another child. Melodies also have stories - where they came from, under what conditions it was composed, where we have learned this melody, and more. But even a child who does not know the special story behind of his song - can teach us a melody sung in his home.
In the first week the teacher will teach a special melody with an interesting story - to create the right atmosphere. For example, you can teach the melody of the Baal Shem Tov - an ancient and exalted melody, wrapped in stories and mysteries.
When we finish learning a melody, the whole class sings the song together - while the teacher records it.
At the end of the year, each child will receive a CD, with all the Shabbat songs we have learned together this year!
4. Shabbat Newsletter
This newsletter can be a class project, or a newsletter for the entire school.
The preparing of the newsletter should be fun and enjoyable - not a burden!
Each week, 3 children will be chosen to prepare the leaflet. There will be three different subjects in your newsletter. Here is an example of 3 subjects: an idea from the Parsha (Dvar Torah), a story for Shabbat, a recipe. Each child will be responsible for the part that he chooses.
If it's the school's newsletter - every week the newsletter will be prepared by another class. In this case, the newsletter will have more pages. See that every child will take part - by writing, drawing or decorating.
These projects will add excitement to the upcoming Shabbat. It will also fill the children with anticipation to hear and enjoy the ideas of their friends about Shabbat, or to proudly present their own family tradition in their turn.
Here there are 5 beautiful posters for decorating the class for Shabbat.
In the att. file there are 5 pages for print, each one the size of A4 paper.