How You Can Make Shabbat: Making the Blessings Before the Meal

By InterfaithFamily



Before both the Friday evening meal and lunchtime on Saturday, there is an opportunity to affirm the holiness of Shabbat through the blessing over wine. This blessing is called Kiddush in Hebrew. The blessing combines the acknowledgment of God’s role in feeding people with a blessing for Shabbat and remembering creation and liberation. If you are not yet comfortable saying the blessing in Hebrew, you can recite an English translation of all or part of it.

Many Jews grow up drinking a very sweet wine for Kiddush. Sweet wine isn’t necessary, however. Kosher wine makers, who make wine according to Jewish law, have created every variety of wine for those who prefer a good table wine to the sweeter alternative. The same blessing that is used for wine can also be made over grape juice.

The Friday evening Kiddush has three parts: a reading of Genesis 1:31-2:3, a short blessing over the wine itself, and a longer sanctification of Shabbat. Some families have the custom of saying the shorter version, which is just the blessing over the wine itself. Others have the custom of saying all three parts. We’ve included both here:


Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha’olam boray p’ree hagafen.

Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the universe, who created the fruit of the vine.


Va’y’hee erev va’y’hee bo’keir yom ha’shee’shee.

Va’y’chu’lu ha’shamayim v’ha’aretz v’chol tze’va’am. Va’ye’chal Elohim ba’yom
hash’vee’ee m’lach’to asher asa, va’yeesh’bot ba’yom hash’vee’ee me’kol m’lach’to
asher asa. Va’y’varech Elohim et yom hash’vee’ee by’kadeish oto, key vo sha’vat
mee’vat mee’kol m’lach’to asher bara Elohim la’asot.
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha’olam boray p’ree hagafen.

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha’olam asher key’d’sha’nu b’mitz’vo’tav v’ratza
vanu. V’Shabbat kod’sho b’a’ha’va uv’ratzon heen’chee’lanu zee’kron l’ma’aseh
v’ray’sheet. Key hoo yom t’chee’la l’meek’ra’ei ko’desh ze’cher lee’tzee’at
Meetz’ra’im. Key vanu va’charta v’otanu key’dash’ta mee’kol ha’a’meem v’Shabbat
kod’sh’cha b’a’ha’va iv’ratzon heen’chee’lanu. Baruch ata Adonai m’ka’desh ha’Shabbat.

And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

The heavens and the earth were finished, the whole host of them. And on the seventh
day God completed the work that He had done and he rested on the seventh day
from all his work that he had done. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it
because in it He had rested from all his work that God had created to do.
Blessed art you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Blessed art you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe, who sanctified us with
commandments. Lovingly You have willingly given us Your holy Shabbat as an
inheritance, in memory of creation, a day for holy assembly and for recalling the
exodus from Egypt. Because You have chosen us, making us holy among the people
and have willingly and lovingly given us Your holy Shabbat as inheritance.
Blessed are You, who sanctifies Shabbat.


Hand washing

Traditionally, this ritual washing is done with a two handled cup. The cup is filled and the water is poured over first one hand and then the cup is held in the wet hand and poured over the other hand. The hands are dried on a towel while reciting the blessing. It is customary to stay silent until the bread is blessed to maintain the Shabbat mood.

For the ritual washing, the blessing is:

Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha’olam asher kid’shanu b’mitz’votav
vitz’ivanu al n’ti’lat ya’dai’im.

Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with thy
commandments, and commanded us to concerning washing of hands.



A special braided loaf of egg bread is used for Shabbat. In Europe, plain black bread was the daily bread and a loaf made of white flour with eggs was a treat saved for Shabbat. The blessing over the challah or any bread is often called Ha’Motzi, which means “who brings forth” because it acknowledges God bringing forth bread from the earth by giving us the gift of wheat.

There are a lot of small customs associated with performing this blessing. The challah is covered with a decorative cloth when the table is set and it is kept covered until you are ready to bless it. There is a sweet story that maintains that we cover the challah so that it will not be jealous that we blessed the wine first! Some lift the loaf or loaves, others place their hands on the bread while reciting the blessing.

After you’ve made the blessing you can slice or tear the bread into pieces, and distribute it to your guests (some people salt it first). There’s also a custom of throwing a piece of bread to each person at the table. Another, newer custom is for everyone to say the blessing together while touching the loaf, and pull off a piece at the same time.


Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha’olam hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz.

Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth.


The blessing for the bread covers all the food in your meal.

All these prayers are in every siddur, or prayerbook, which will also have traditional songs for the Shabbat table. You can also purchase a bencher (the Yiddish word for a a short booklet containing the Shabbat blessings and songs, often distributed to guests at weddings or bar or bat mitzvahs) from a Jewish bookstore.

The blessing for the bread covers all the food in your meal.


Return to the Guide to Shabbat and Havdalah for Interfaith Families Resource Guide.


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