Minnesota Mamaleh: 11 Kid Friendly Shabbat Ideas By 11 Fab Jewish Bloggers

Shabbat is, by far, my favorite way to “do Judaism” with my family.

The candles, the challah, the wine, the singing- all warm my heart and help me turn off the noise, the mess, and the busy from the rest of the week.

Just between you and me, Summertime Shabbat holds an extra space in my heart.

Why? Because Minnesota Winters are long. And harsh. And my transplanted-from-California skin is thin. And whiny.

So when the days lengthen and the sun shines, the challah tastes better and the wine flows freer. And Shabbats are happier than ever.

Last year I shared the ways my family does Summer Shabbat in one of my all time favorite posts Summer Days, Summer Nights. And this year? Some of my absolutely favorite and hippest, creative and pure fabulous Jewish bloggers are sharing their family Shabbat traditions.

I promise that you will adore these ideas. And if you don’t already know these writers, then go follow them right now. I guarantee that you will love them as much as I do.

So in no particular order, but compiled with love from me to you-

11 Kid Friendly Shabbat Ideas By 11 Fab Jewish Bloggers

1. Ciao Mom {@CiaoMom} Together time defines our shabbat. Whether we are at home or at temple, we are together on Friday night. No tv, Music on, singing aloud (we love Rick Recht and Debbie Freidman) cooking (even if it is just pasta) together.

2. Miriyummy {@mirj} My best Shabbat tip actually happens before Shabbat, and it’s cooking with the kids. You should see how much they kvell when you serve up to the table what they’ve cooked. Especially if you serve it up to guests.

3. Erin Margolin {@ErinMargolin} Shabbat at home: get the kids involved. I let mine help light the candles and they say the prayers along with us. When I make challah, I let them help—and have even made mini challahs with/for them. We don’t do shabbat as often at home as I’d like, must work on that. As for at services? I pack books, crayons, and CANDY. We are reform, so while services aren’t long, the girls do get bored, so I bribe them to behave sometimes. It helps that they love our rabbi and our congregation is small and very relaxed.

4. The Rebbetzin Rocks When my kids were little, we had a special “shabbat box” of toys that were ONLY for shabbat. when the day got a bit long, especially in the summer, we would bring this out and it worked like a charm to keep them occupied for a couple of hours while the adults either chatted or, you know, NAPPED!!! We made sure to stock it with special “shabbat toys” that they then did not get during the week, like sparkle markers, stickers, shiny paper, one or two unique board games, their favorite TV character stuffed animals, etc. At the bottom of the box was a “treasure map” that they had to figure out to find a special shabbat snack we had hidden. Not shockingly, they always went for that first :-)

5. Renee Ghert Zand After we light the candles, we always say “Shabbat Shalom l'(to…) every person in the family, and we include the dog and guinea pig, as well. And when my husband and I put our hands on our 3 boys’ heads as we bless them, the boys put their hands on the dog’s head.

6. Ima on and off the Bima {@imabima} Shabbat is all about “special.” Having dessert, wearing a fun outfit, doing a special family activity, even watching a movie if that’s something that we don’t do the rest of the week. Anything that defines the day as special. When my first-born was really little, he was only allowed to watch tv on Shabbat…it made it special. Then he would visit my parents’ house and they coined the phrase “It’s always Shabbat at Bubbie and Zeyde’s house,” a phrase that still applies to the way that they generally say yes to every fun thing!

7. Elissa Freeman {@elissapr} As Reform Jews, DD11 leads our blessings on Friday night. Then we all sing a rousing rendition of “We give thanks to G-d for bread” in our best operatic voices! Plus we use handmade yamulke’s, kiddush cup – and it’s DD’s job to set the Shabbat table.

8. Frume Sarah {@FrumeSarah} I have a friend who only permits sugar cereal and other treats on Shabbat. I am continuing with a tradition from my childhood by declaring Shabbos a homework-free day!!!! I go off-grid. I do it for me AND for my kids. So that I can be fully present for and with them. Later bedtime on Shabbos.

9. Holly Fink {@theculturemom} Every Friday my son and I buy the challah together and prepare the table for Shabbat. We use a homemade challah cover, they each have kiddush cup and they each are responsible for saying one of the brachot. We just incorporated the prayer for children into our tradition, to make the experience more meaningful.

10. Midianite Manna We like backyard picnics in the summer, with stories out on the picnic blanket or hammock afterwards. It’s a great way to really appreciate all the growing things around us without the gardener’s compulsion to weed or pick or trim… Shabbat is very different for us, in summer, because the big rituals our son is used to (erev Shabbat blessings, havdallah) don’t really happen until after he’s in bed. So we also let him have cookies for breakfast, sometimes.

11. The Jack B {@TheJackB} In our house we make a very big deal out of blessing our children on Shabbat. It has become a ritual that they ask for on days where they are not feeling well or have a test in school. It definitely has become one of my favorite moments. I love looking down and seeing their smiling faces look back up at me.

And with that, Shabbat Shalom my dear friends.

May you have challah for dinner tonight, and cookies for breakfast tomorrow!

Galit Breen is an Israeli freezing her tuchus in Minnesota. She’s a Mama of three currently working on her first book about finding spirituality outside of religion. You can find her regularly at These Little Waves or here at TCJ on the first Friday of each month.



About Galit Breen

Galit Breen was a classroom and reading teacher for ten years. She has a master's degree in education and a bachelor's degree in human development. In 2009, she launched a career as a freelance writer entrenched in social media. Since then, her work has been featured in various online magazines including Brain, Child, The Huffington Post, TIME, and xoJane. Breen lives in Minnesota with her husband, three children, and a ridiculously spoiled miniature golden doodle. Her book, Kindness Wins, is a simple no-nonsense guide to teaching our kids how to be kind online. You can learn more about Galit by visiting TheseLittleWaves.com.

Comments. Add Yours!


  1. What a great list, and thanks for the links, because some of them really rock! Shavu’a tov!

  2. Wonderful ideas here! Shabbat is such a great opportunity to reconnect with the family and just be present together. I look forward to it every week! 🙂

  3. Hey Galit- thanks so much for including me. We may have to incorporate some of these into our family traditions.

  4. Great list! Guess I’ll have to wait a few years for the TEEN-friendly list… because we do a lot of this and it still doesn’t appeal to that crowd, I’m afraid. 🙁

  5. These are fantastic! My husband and I carve out the 26 hours of Shabbat with our 4 sons now, while they are little. No sports practices or other commitments, no media or work. We are lucky to live in Pittsburgh in a fantastic community with other families who just hang out on Shabbat so we get to hang with friends. A few summers ago we joined a roving Seudat Shlisheet that someone thought of – everyone has a potluck from about 4pm to Havdallah in their yard once or twice during the summer. That way everyone has something to do if they want it when Shabbat gets long. I highly recommend!