How to Bless Your Children on Shabbat

Maybe you grew up with your parents blessing you every Friday night or maybe you’re ready to start a family tradition of your own. Read on for a simple format and how-to to bless your children on Shabbat and holidays and how you can personalize this age-old tradition to be just right for you. 

Related: Why Do Parents Bless Children on Shabbat?

Watch the full video for “Laila Tov” 

Getting Started

People bless their children in a variety of ways. Some parents place their hands on the head of the child they are blessing, while parents of very young ones often hold them in their arms. Some parents prefer to cup the face of their child in their hands or cuddle together. The blessing is almost always sealed with a hug or kiss. The best part about this tradition is that you can customize it to what works best for your family. 

The more generations the merrier. Grandparents and other relatives can join in, too whether in person or over Facetime or the phone. Many parents whisper a “secret blessing” to their child – something they’ve admired about their child in the past week or something private or funny they want to share.

Some families use a traditional text – the oldest Jewish blessing, spoken in ritual settings and homes for more than 3,000 years. Others improvise. Anything you say is correct.

Traditional Blessing

The traditional Blessing of the Children begins with a warm-up:  “May God make you like...” (or alternatively, “May you be like...”) to express the wish that our children will embody the best qualities of those who came before them. Then it continues with a three-part blessing, a timeless wish for well-being and peace.

Opening

May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe / May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah

Three-Part Blessing

May God bless you and keep you.
May God shine light on you and be gracious to you.
May God turn toward you and grant you peace.

Here’s how to say it in Hebrew

Yesimcha Elohim ke’Ephraim v’che’Menashe / Yesimech Elohim ke’Sarah, Rivka, Rachel, ve’Leah
Yevarechecha Adonai veyishmerecha
Ya’er Adonai panav eilecha viyechuneka
Yisa Adonai panav eilecha veyasem lecha shalom

Pronunciation: 

Alternative Blessing Ideas:

May you be like… (Choose a person whose  qualities will inspire your child).

May you:
Always be safe.
Shine light in the world.
And feel truly at peace with yourself.

Or give your child your own personal blessing or wishes. For example, “this week I was proud of you for doing ____. Next week I hope you will _____.”

More:

Why Do Parents Bless Children on Shabbat?
Blessings for Everyday Situations