What is Shabbat?

By InterfaithFamily


Shabbat is the Jewish Sabbath. The English word Sabbath came from the Hebrew word, Shabbat. It’s pronounced “shah-baht.” An alternative more Yiddish spelling is Shabbos and is pronunced “shah-biss.” Shabbat lasts from sundown on Friday until three stars are visible on Saturday night. The greetings for Shabbat are “Shabbat shalom” (Sabbath peace) or the Yiddish “gut Shabbos” (“good Sabbath”).

Shabbat features in the Ten Commandments, and the commandment to keep Shabbat is repeated in the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew scripture that provides the foundation for Judaism.

Shabbat is a day of rest and enjoyment for us at the end of the work week, just as God did at the end of the week of creation. Traditional Jews avoid doing any work, reserving the time for friends and family, pleasant walks and naps, prayer and study.

Shabbat is a day of peace, rest, reflection, and hospitality for the entire community. The Torah invites all to share in the blessing of rest and explicitly includes those who are not Jewish to take a day of rest as well. Jews were the first community to establish this healthy custom of a day off from work.

The gift of Shabbat is part of God’s covenant with the Jewish people. Honoring the Sabbath is one way Jews have of maintaining that agreement.


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


About InterfaithFamily

InterfaithFamily is the premier resource supporting interfaith couples exploring Jewish life and inclusive Jewish communities. We offer educational content; connections to welcoming organizations, professionals and programs; resources and trainings for organizations, clergy and other program providers; and our new Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship will provide offerings for couples in cities nationwide. If you have suggestions, please contact network@interfaithfamily.com.