A Humanistic Shabbat & Havdalah

A Humanistic Shabbat Celebration for the Home

People of the Mountain

For Humanistic Jews, Shabbat is a time of joy, a celebration of our connections to Judaism and to family, friends, and community. It is an affirmation of our Jewish identity, an expression of solidarity with the Jewish People. It is a chance to relax from the busy week, a space for self-exploration and discovery.

Shabbat allows opportunities for both home and community celebrations, featuring candlelighting, wine, and the eating of braided bread (challa), with blessings that express human power and responsibility.   (from the Society for Humanistic Judaism)

A Humanistic Havdalah, at the End of Shabbat

Havdala (distinction/separation), celebrated at home or within a community, marks the end of Shabbat. It offers us an opportunity to reflect on the past week, to examine the meaningfulness of our experiences, and to use the insights gained to help us prepare for the coming week. The symbols of the Havdala celebration – wine, spices (cinnamon and cloves, which remind us to savor the sweetness of Shabbat), and the light of the braided Havdala candle – help us mark the distinction between Shabbat and the rest of the week.

A Humanistic Havdala is a celebration of unity, just as Shabbat is a time of reflection and peace.           (from the Society for Humanistic Judaism)

In the service shown here, there are a few differences from the traditional format.  We fill our cup with wine, but not to overflowing.  In place of the large, braided candle, we use the two candles from the previous night’s Shabbat – the first use for the rest of the week.  This links our Shabbat with the days in the week that follows.


Printable files are available for download on our Facebook Page. Please feel free to copy and use these texts as they are, or as an inspiration for your own celebrations.

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