Jewish Holidays

How to Set the Perfect Shabbat Table

Whether you’re new to observing Shabbat or already a pro, here are our top tips for a festive and beautiful Shabbat table!

The Jewish Sabbath, or Shabbat in Hebrew, is a special holiday that comes once a week and has been beloved by Jews all over the world for generations. No matter your personal practice or how strictly you follow the “no work” thing, Shabbat meals are a wonderful opportunity to gather with your family or friends in a timeless Jewish tradition.

Brush up on Shabbat traditions here, and shop Shabbat essentials and beautiful tableware straight from Israel right on our site!

And read on below for our breakdown of everything you need for a beautiful and traditional Shabbat table.

 

 

1. Shabbat Candlesticks & Candles

 

Traditionally, lighting Shabbat candles is the first ritual to welcome Shabbat in one's home on Friday evening, and Shabbat candlesticks have become important and iconic pieces of Judaica. Some Jewish families set up the Shabbat candles on the table where the meal will be eaten, while others keep them elsewhere and out of the way for safety reasons - but it's considered ideal to have them near where you'll be eating, in order to add light and beauty to your dinner atmosphere.

Jewish artists make Shabbat candlesticks in all styles and price points, so pick your favorite that you'll love lighting every week, and make sure to get the appropriate candles too!

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2. Kiddush Essentials: Kiddush Cup, Wine Glasses, Wine

 

Once you're ready to sit down for your Shabbat meal, one of the most important rituals will be Kiddush - a special prayer over wine or grape juice to sanctify Shabbat.

You'll need:

  • A Kiddush cup, a special cup or glass for the prayer leader (usually the head of the household, but can also be an honored guest) who will recite the Kiddush prayer - choose your perfect style, the more beautiful the better!
  • Wine glasses or individual Kiddush cups for the other guests - you may consider a special set or fountain with matching Kiddush cups to really tie the whole table together
  • Wine or grape juice

 

The importance of the Kiddush ritual means that the Kiddush cup gets a prominent role at the Shabbat table, and should be set next to the place setting of the person who will lead the prayer.

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3. Challah with Challah Serving Essentials: Challah Board, Cover, Knife, Salt

 

Jewish tradition dictates that a formal Shabbat or holiday meal should have two loaves of bread, and for many families that means challah! Whether you prefer the classic braided bread, pitas, rolls, or something else, your loaves will be an important centerpiece on your Shabbat table.

For serving your challah, you'll need:

  • A challah board or tray
  • A challah cover to keep the bread covered until you're ready to recite the Hamotzi blessing and serve - this is often a beautiful, decorative piece
  • A knife to cut it (unless your tradition is to tear the bread); some families have a dedicated challah knife that is only used for this purpose
  • Once cut, the challah pieces are traditionally sprinkled or dipped in salt before serving - so don't forget your saltshaker, which can also be a special one just for Shabbat

 

Check out our challah recipe roundup if you're up for baking your own, and get all your challah serving essentials from Israel!

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4. Prayer Book and/or Benchers

 

A traditional Shabbat meal features several special prayers and blessings, so don't forget a siddur or prayer book for the person who will be leading them!

Many families use smaller, dedicated prayer booklets at meals called benchers in Yiddish or birkonim in Hebrew. These may also be bought in sets and passed out to guests for the grace after meals prayers (known as benching or birkat hamazon), or for singing songs if that's your family's tradition.

Don't get caught emptyhanded when it's time for the Shabbat meal blessings - get a Hebrew or Hebrew-English prayer book from one of Israel's top publishers!

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5. Special Table Settings for All, with a Beautiful Tablecloth & Yummy Food!

 

Now that we've got the traditional Jewish essentials down, you'll of course need the place settings and the food for all your guests!

 

Check out our favorite Shabbat essentials and everything else you need for Shabbat, straight from the top Israeli artists.

Wishing you wonderful and joyous Shabbat meals to come!

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