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How to Have a Shabbat Workshop in Hebrew School

By Edited Jul 13, 2016 0 0

Having a Shabbat workshop in Hebrew School is a fun way to teach Jewish children about this important weekly Jewish holiday. It is one thing to read about how to celebrate Shabbat from your textbooks, it is another to bring Shabbat to life and celebrate it together as a culminating unit activity.

When I taught second grade Sunday School, my two colleagues and I, along with three teen helpers, ran this very lively Shabbat workshop. This workshop can be held successfully with any grade, and you can expand this to include the parents if your curriculum has family workshops.

Our Shabbat workshop ran approximately one hour and fifteen minutes during Hebrew School. While our synagogue hires teen assistants for each grade, if you do not have the extra help, you can ask parents to volunteer. One volunteer is needed for the first two stations and two are needed for the third station.

In order for the Shabbat workshop to run smoothly during the parameters of your Hebrew School time frame, you will need to make sure that all of the materials are purchased and prepped ahead of time. Everything needs to be set up and ready to go when your students enter the room. It is also a good idea to make up groups ahead of time, especially if you are combing classes. Parent volunteers or teen assistants can help put the children in the appropriate area when they arrive.

The three stations for the Hebrew School Shabbat workshop are:

1. Shabbat prayer and a Shabbat story

2. Making challah covers

3. Baking challah

You will rotate stations every 20-25 minutes.

Station One: Shabbat Prayer and Shabbat Story

Materials needed:

1. One copy of the Shabbat prayers for each child

2. Shabbat story of your choice

3. You can have a word search or coloring page run off as something to do if you have extra time

It is a good idea to do this station in a separate classroom, as you will need quiet so the children can recite the prayers without interruption from the other more vocal groups. During this Shabbat workshop station, you will concentrate on the three Shabbat prayers-the candle lighting prayer, the kiddush (prayer over the wine) and the motzi (prayer over the challah).

Depending on the age of the group and how familiar they are with the Shabbat prayers, this portion of your station can take ten to fifteen minutes. If it is possible, ask your synagogue's cantor if she can record the prayers the exact way she wants them to be learned. After you have practiced the blessings, it is time for a Shabbat story.

Some books you may want to read during this Shabbat workshop station are:

Sammy Spider's First Shabbat by Sylvia Rouss

The Shabbat Box by Lesley Simpson

Where Shabbat Lives by Jan Goldin Fabiyi

Dinosaur on Shabbat by Diane Levin Rauchwerger

The Littlest Candlesticks by Sylvia Rouss

Too Much of a Good Thing by Mira Wasserman

The Seventh Day: A Shabbat Story by Deborah Cohen

Ellie's Shabbat Surprise by Beverly Mach Geller

Station Two: Making Challah Covers

Materials Needed:

Muslin squares precut between 9" x 9" to 12" x 12"

Sharpie markers in assorted bold and pastel colors

Jewish stencils or templates (nice to have)

Begin this station of the Shabbat workshop by asking the children why they think the challah needs to be covered while saying the blessing over it. Explain to the children the traditional story of why the challah is covered (to keep it from being embarrassed because the motzi is said last).

Before the children begin their creative work in this part of your Hebrew School's Shabbat workshop, make sure their name and the date is on the bottom right corner of the muslin square. These will be treasured keepsakes! (I use my teenager's cover every week and cannot wait until my twins make their own this year).

Ask for ideas of what to draw on a challah cover. After listing and listening to the ideas, let the children get to work. Since you are using permanent markers, be sure that all sleeves are rolled up.

Station Three Make Your Own Challah

In the third station of the Hebrew School Shabbat workshop, the children will be making their own challah to eat. If you have any children with food allergies, be sure their parents can provide an alternative snack for them.

Materials Needed

Aluminum foil

Baking sheets

Plastic knives

Pillsbury Grands biscuits

Egg whites

Pastry brush

Paper plates


Have the children wash their hands before beginning this station of the Shabbat workshop. Keep a biscuit for yourself you can demonstrate how to braid a challah. It might be a good idea to have two extra helpers at this station, depending on the size of the group.

Give each child their own Grands biscuit and have them cut it into thirds with the plastic knife. Then they roll it out into a snake shape and braid it. Have the children brush their challah with the egg white so it will glisten after baking. If money and time permit, each child can make another challah. As the children place them on the baking sheet lined with foil, write their name below their challot, so they know which ones are theirs.

Have your teen helpers or parent volunteers bring the baking sheets into the kitchen and have them in charge of making sure they get cooked properly and not burned.

While you are having your Shabbat workshop in Hebrew School, you can have a CD of modern Shabbat music playing in the background to set the mood.

If you have extra time, at the end of the workshop you can come together as a group. At this time you can say the Shabbat prayers together, eat your challah and drink some sweet grape juice. Talk about what they have learned at the workshop and during your course of study during the Shabbat unit. If she or he is able to, ask the rabbi to come and visit at the end to talk about Shabbat or tell a Shabbat story.

Having a Shabbat workshop during Hebrew School is a fun and tasty way to learn about this weekly Jewish holiday.



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